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Similarities Dating Back to '59


Baltimore Colts legends Lenny Moore and Jim Mutscheller know a thing or two about the Ravens' current situation.

In 1959, they were just a game over .500 when they hit the road to face Green Bay. It was a make-or-break game if the Colts were going to return to the playoffs, similar to what the Ravens will face Monday night.

"I can remember things weren't going well," said Mutscheller, a tight end for nine seasons with the Colts. "If we were going to play in the championship, we were going to have to do something because we just couldn't get anything done."

The Colts won that game, then took the next five to storm into the NFL playoffs – which back then meant the championship game. It's a path that the Ravens, who currently sit at 6-5, would love to emulate.

The 1959 Colts were coming off two straight losses and had a middling 4-3 record at the time, far worse than they expected following their historic 1958 NFL championship. But as Moore remembers, the team still had its swagger.

In addition to Moore and Mutscheller, Baltimore was stocked with talent on both sides of the ball. They had quarterback Johnny Unitas, wide receiver Raymond Berry, offensive lineman Jim Parker, defensive linemen Art Donovan and Eugene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb and defensive end Gino Marchetti, just to name a few.

"We figured we were a better team than what our record showed," Moore said. "We thought we could play with anybody and beat anybody."

The Colts traveled to Milwaukee County Stadium instead of Lambeau Field, which had opened two years prior. It was the Packers' first season with a pair of future Hall of Famers, head coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr.

Green Bay jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but the Colts responded with 21 straight points before halftime. Moore kicked off Baltimore's scoring with a 26-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter and Berry caught two touchdown passes from Unitas in the second quarter from seven and 10 yards.

The Packers came to life in the second half as running back Jim Taylor scored two straight touchdowns to pull to just four points behind at 21-17.

But the Colts bounced right back, marching 80 yards in 10 plays for the eventual game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Mutscheller capped the scoring drive by snagging a Unitas pass down the middle and bulling his way across the goal line for a 24-yard touchdown.

The Packers' Taylor notched his third touchdown with less than three minutes remaining, but the Colts ran out the clock for a 28-24 victory.

Unitas finished with 19 completions for 324 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while Starr completed 14 of 40 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

"To win that game in the last quarter, that gave us a jump-start on the rest of the season," Mutscheller remembered. "Fortunately we were able to play a lot better after that."

The Colts went on to win their final four regular season games, beating the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams twice each, to reach the championship game with a 9-3 record. Once there, the Colts beat down the New York Giants, 31-16, in a rematch of the 1958 overtime classic.

Mutscheller said he doesn't think the Colts would have won the title had they not beaten the Green Bay Packers in mid-November. It was the defining point of the season, much like the position the Ravens find themselves in as they head to Lambeau Field.

While watching the Ravens practice Thursday, Moore said the Ravens have the pieces, just as the '59 Colts did – a standout quarterback in [Joe Flaccointernal-link-placeholder-0], a suffocating defense and a stout running game headed by [Ray Riceinternal-link-placeholder-0], whom he called "unbelievable."

Moore could envision the Ravens winning out, just as his team did 50 years ago.

"I don't see any problems. Everything is there," Moore said. "It's been just a little mistake here or something there that caused it to be a little different. It's not like they got beat. You just got to know you've got the ability to get the job done."

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