After disappointing finishes in their first two seasons, the Dallas Texans put it all together with the youngest team in pro football in 1962. They were led by a new quarterback, Len Dawson who passed for 2,759 yards and 29 touchdowns, and won the AFL’s player of the year award. The backfield also featured the slashing Abner Haynes, who set a pro record by scoring 19 touchdowns, and fullback Curtis McClinton, who won AFL rookie of the year honors.
An interception by Texans defensive end Bill Hull gave the Texans good field position and, in the sixth quarter, Dawson hit running back Jack Spikes for a first down on a key third-and-8 play. Then Spikes ran for 19 yards to move the Texans to the Houston 20. Four plays later, Tommy Brooker kicked a 25-yard field goal that ended what was then the longest pro football game ever, at 77 minutes, 54 seconds. Watched by 56 million Americans on ABC, the contest
became an instant classic, In the Washington Post, columnist Shirley Povich wrote, “The AFL was born at the age of three, so magnificent was this game.”
The retooled Texans defense-with Jerry Mays moving from end to right tackle, and Johnny Robinson moving from offense to safety- gave up fewer than 17 points per game. After the 11-3 campaign, the Texans traveled to in-state rival Houston to play the two-time league champion Oilers in the AFL champion ship game. The Texans jumped out to a 17-0 first-half lead, but Houston stormed back in the second half to tie the game at 17. Houston had a chance to win it near the end of regulation, only to have the Texans’ All-AFL middle linebacker Sherrill Headrick block George Blanda’s 42-yard field goal attempt. That sent the game into sudden-death overtime, but neither club could score in the fifth period.
McClinton (left) and Dawson were honored by AFL Commissioner Joe Foss.
“The AFL was born at the age of three, so magnificent was this game.”