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American Football League playoffs

"AFL Championship" redirects here. For the championship game of the Arena Football League, see ArenaBowl. For the championship game of the Australian Football League, see AFL Grand Final.

From 1960 to 1968, the American Football League determined its champion via a single playoff game between the winners of its two divisions (although ties in the standings during the 1963 and 1968 seasons necessitated a divisional playoff game).

In 1969, the final year of the independent AFL, a four-team playoff was held, with the second-place teams in each division playing the winner of the other division in what were called the "Interdivisional" playoffs. These playoffs were not, and are not considered to have been, "wildcard" playoffs since the two best non-division winners did not automatically qualify. (Had the 1969 playoffs been true wildcard playoffs, the Western Division's third-place team, San Diego, would have qualified while the Eastern Division's second-place team, Houston, would not have.) The 1969 playoffs were only the second time a major professional football league allowed teams other than the first place teams to compete in post-season playoffs (the other instance being the All-America Football Conference's 1949 four-team playoff).

Prior to the advent of the Super Bowl for the 1966 season, the AFL went to great lengths to avoid scheduling its playoffs head-to-head with the NFL. In 1960, the NFL's game was held on Monday, December 26; the AFL had that week off, and played its title contest on Sunday, January 1. In 1961 and 1962, the AFL played its game during the off-week between the end of the NFL's regular season and its title game (thus resulting in the AFL holding championship games on December 24, 1961 and December 23, 1962, a week before the NFL's games of December 31, 1961 and December 30, 1962). In 1963, the AFL held its Eastern Division tiebreaker playoff on Saturday, December 28, 1963, thereby avoiding the Sunday, December 29, 1963 NFL playoff (the AFL then held its 1963 Championship Game a week later). In 1964, pro football had a championship weekend, with the AFL's title game held on Saturday, December 26, 1964 and the NFL's championship contest being held on Sunday, December 27, 1964. For 1965, the AFL tried to return to the practice of playing its game on a Sunday during the off-week between the NFL playoff, slating its championship contest for December 26, 1965 while the NFL's game wasn't held until January 2, 1966; unfortunately, the Colts and Packers required a Western Conference tiebreaker on the December 26, 1965 date --- and since that game went overtime, the TV audience for the Bills-Chargers game in San Diego was diminished considerably. Even in 1966, the AFL originally scheduled its championship game for the off-week, planning to hold its playoff on Monday, December 26, 1966, six days before the NFL's scheduled playoff of January 1, 1967.

Negotiations prior to the first Super Bowl, during early December 1966, resulted in the two leagues agreeing to have championship doubleheaders for the next four years, with each league holding its title game on the same day but at a different time that day. Thus the final four AFL playoffs were held on the same day as the NFL championship game was (January 1, 1967; December 31, 1967; December 29, 1968; and January 4, 1970).

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Football League include AFL playoffs in their statistics for the NFL playoffs.

1960 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1960 American Football League season.
1 2 34Total
Chargers 6 3 7016
Oilers 0 10 7724

at Jeppesen Stadium, Houston, Texas

  • Date: January 1, 1961
  • Referee: John McDonough

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  • LA - Field goal Agajanian 38 LA 3-0
  • LA - Field goal Agajanian 22 LA 6-0
  • HOU - Smith 17 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick) HOU 7-6
  • HOU - Field goal Blanda 18 HOU 10-6
  • LA - Field goal Agajanian 27 HOU 10-9
  • HOU - Groman 7 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick) HOU 17-9
  • LA - Lowe 2 run (Agajanian kick) HOU 17-16
  • HOU - Cannon 88 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick) HOU 24-16

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1961 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1961 American Football League season.
1 2 34Total
Oilers 0 3 7010
Chargers 0 0 033

at Balboa Stadium, San Diego, California

  • Date: December 24, 1961

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  • HOU - Field goal Blanda 46
  • HOU - Cannon 35 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick)
  • SD - Field goal Blair 12

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1962 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1962 American Football League season.
1 2 34OT2OTTotal
Texans 3 14 000320
Oilers 0 0 7100017

at Jeppesen Stadium, Houston, Texas

  • Date: December 23, 1962

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  • DAL - Field goal Brooker 16
  • DAL - Haynes 28 pass from Dawson (Brooker kick)
  • DAL - Haynes 2 run (Brooker kick)
  • HOU - Dewveall 15 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick)
  • HOU - Field goal Blanda 31
  • HOU - Tolar 1 run (Blanda kick)
  • DAL - Field goal Brooker 25

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1963 Playoffs

For more details on this topic, see 1963 American Football League season.
A tie in the Eastern Division standings necessitated an Eastern Division playoff game

Eastern Division Playoff

1 2 34Total
Patriots 10 6 01026
Bills 0 0 808

at War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

  • Date: December 28, 1963

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  • BOS - Field goal Cappelletti 28
  • BOS - Garron 59 pass from Parilli (Cappelletti kick)
  • BOS - Field goal Cappelletti 12
  • BOS - Field goal Cappelletti 33
  • BUF - Dubenion 93 pass from Lamonica (Tracey pass from Lamonica)
  • BOS - Garron 17 pass from Parilli (Cappelletti kick)
  • BOS - Field goal Cappelletti 36

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1963 Championship

1 2 34Total
Patriots 7 3 0010
Chargers 21 10 71351

at Balboa Stadium, San Diego, California

  • Date: January 5, 1964

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  • SD - Rote 2 run (Blair kick)
  • SD - Lincoln 67 run (Blair kick)
  • BOS - Garron 7 run (Cappelletti kick)
  • SD - Lowe 58 run (Blair kick)
  • SD - Field goal Blair 11
  • BOS - Field goal Cappelletti 15
  • SD - Norton 14 pass from Rote (Blair kick)
  • SD - Alworth 48 pass from Rote (Blair kick)
  • SD - Lincoln 25 pass from Hadl (Pass failed)
  • SD - Hadl 1 run (Blair kick)

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The Chargers championship win is noted for being the only and most recent major sports championship won for the city of San Diego. No other city with at least two professional sports teams has a championship drought as long, as of 2013 (50 years). This is also the only time that the Chargers have beaten the Patriots in a postseason game.

1964 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1964 American Football League season.
1 2 34Total
Chargers 7 0 007
Bills 3 10 0720

at War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

  • Date: December 26, 1964

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  • SD - Kocourek 26 pass from Rote (Lincoln kick)
  • BUF - Field goal Gogolak 12
  • BUF - Carlton 4 run (Gogolak kick)
  • BUF - Field goal Gogolak 17
  • BUF - Kemp 1 run (Gogolak kick)

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Mike Stratton's hit on San Diego Chargers Running Back Keith Lincoln set the stage for the Buffalo Bills and their first AFL championship.

1965 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1965 American Football League season.
1 2 34Total
Bills 0 14 6323
Chargers 0 0 000

at Balboa Stadium, San Diego, California

  • Date: December 26, 1965

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  • BUF - Warlick 18 pass from Kemp (Gogolak kick)
  • BUF - Byrd 74 punt return (Gogolak kick)
  • BUF - Field goal Gogolak 11
  • BUF - Field goal Gogolak 39
  • BUF - Field goal Gogolak 32

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This was the last AFL Championship Game before the Super Bowl era began the following season and the last time a final pro football championship game was played in December. It was also the most recent championship won by a Buffalo-based professional sports team.

1966 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1966 American Football League season.
1 2 34Total
Chiefs 7 10 01431
Bills 7 0 007

at War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

  • Date: January 1, 1967

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  • KC - Arbanas 29 pass from Dawson (Mercer kick)
  • BUF - Dubenion 69 pass from Kemp (Lusteg kick)
  • KC - Taylor 29 pass from Dawson (Mercer kick)
  • KC - Field goal Mercer 32
  • KC - Garrett 1 run (Mercer kick)
  • KC - Garrett 18 run (Mercer kick)

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The Bills went into the 1966 AFL Championship having already won the game the previous two years. Though the game was to be played in Buffalo, the visiting Kansas City Chiefs were three-point favorites, mainly because of their explosive and innovative offense led by Head Coach Hank Stram. The Bills were a more conventional team with a solid defensive line and a running mindset on offense.

A Bills fumble on the opening kickoff gave the Chiefs a short field to work with, and Quarterback Len Dawson immediately took advantage of it, hitting Fred Arbanas for the game's first score. Jack Kemp's first pass for the Bills was a 69 yard score to Elbert Dubenion. Late in the second quarter and trailing 14-7, Kemp led the Bills to the Kansas City 10. Bobby Crockett was open in the endzone, but Kemp's pass was intercepted by Johnny Robinson, who returned the ball 72-yards, setting up a Mike Mercer field goal to close out the first half.

Buffalo found no offensive rhythm in the second half, and the Chiefs closed the game out in the fourth quarter with Dawson found Chris Burford for a 45 yard gain, setting up a one foot touchdown run by rookie Mike Garrett. Garrett scored his second touchdown less than two minutes later following another Bills fumble.

This was the first AFL Championship Game to determine which team would represent the league in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs lost 35-10 to the NFL champion Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.

1967 Championship

For more details on this topic, see 1967 American Football League season.
1 2 34Total
Oilers 0 0 077
Raiders 3 14 101340

at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California

  • Date: December 31, 1967
  • Referee: John McDonough

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  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 37
  • OAK - Dixon 69 run (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Kocourek 17 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Lamonica 1 run (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 40
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 42
  • HOU - Frazier 5 pass from Beathard (Wittenborn kick)
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 36
  • OAK - Miller 12 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)

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The Oakland Raiders were ten and a half point favorites over the Houston Oilers in the 1967 AFL Championship Game. Quarterback Daryle Lamonica, acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills in the offseason, led the Raiders to a 13-1 record, throwing 30 touchdown passes in the process. The Oilers went from last place in the Eastern Conference in 1966 to first in '67, beating out the New York Jets by a game. Most of the Oilers' offense centered on big fullback Hoyle Granger, and a midseason quarterback trade for the shifty Pete Beathard (sending their own starter, Jacky Lee, to the Kansas City Chiefs) proved to be the spark that turned Houston's season around.

The previous meeting between the two teams had been a close game won 19-7 by the Raiders, with Lamonica struggling offensively. This was not the case in the rematch. Oakland took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter on a 69 yard run down the left sidelines by Hewritt Dixon, and on a fake field goal attempt Lamonica passed to Dave Kocourek for the 17-0 halftime margin. Former Oilers quarterback George Blanda, who had led Houston to the AFL's first two championships, kicked four field goals for the Raiders. Houston did not score until the fourth quarter, when they already trailed 30-0.

Oakland lost Super Bowl II to the NFL champion Green Bay Packers.

1968 Playoffs

For more details on this topic, see 1968 American Football League season.
A tie in the Western Division standings necessitated a Western Division playoff game

Western Division Playoff

1 2 34Total
Chiefs 0 6 006
Raiders 21 7 01341

at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California

  • Date: December 22, 1968

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  • OAK - Biletnikoff 24 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Wells 23 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Biletnikoff 44 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • KC - Field goal Stenerud 10
  • KC - Field goal Stenerud 8
  • OAK - Biletnikoff 54 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Wells 35 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 41
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 40

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1968 Championship

1 2 34Total
Raiders 0 10 31023
Jets 10 3 7727

at Shea Stadium, New York City

  • Date: December 29, 1968
  • Referee: Walt Fitzgerald

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  • NY - Maynard 14 pass from Namath (Turner kick)
  • NY - Field goal Turner 33
  • OAK - Biletnikoff 29 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • NY - Field goal Turner 36
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 26
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 9
  • NY - Lammons 20 pass from Namath (Turner kick)
  • OAK - Field goal Blanda 20
  • OAK - Banaszak 4 run (Blanda kick)
  • NY - Maynard 6 pass from Namath (Turner kick)

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The Jets went on to win Super Bowl III to become the first AFL Super Bowl champion.

1969 Playoffs

For more details on this topic, see 1969 American Football League season.

Bracket

Interdivisional Playoffs AFL Championship Game
      
W2 Kansas City Chiefs 13
E1 New York Jets 6
W2 Kansas City Chiefs 17
W1 Oakland Raiders 7
E2 Houston Oilers 7
W1 Oakland Raiders 56

Interdivisional Playoffs

1 2 34Total
Chiefs 0 3 3713
Jets 3 0 036

at Shea Stadium, New York City

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  • NY - Field goal Turner 27
  • KC - Field goal Stenerud 23
  • KC - Field goal Stenerud 25
  • NY - Field goal Turner 7
  • KC - Richardson 19 pass from Dawson (Stenerud kick)

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1 2 34Total
Oilers 0 0 077
Raiders 28 7 14756

at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California

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  • OAK - Biletnikoff 13 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Atkinson 57 interception return (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Sherman 24 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Biletnikoff 31 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Smith 60 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Sherman 23 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • OAK - Cannon 3 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick)
  • HOU - Reed 8 pass from Beathard (Gerela kick)
  • OAK - Hubbard 4 run (Blanda kick)

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1969 Championship

1 2 34Total
Chiefs 0 7 7317
Raiders 7 0 007

at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California

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  • OAK - Smith 3 run (Blanda kick)
  • KC - Hayes 1 run (Stenerud kick)
  • KC - Holmes 5 run (Stenerud kick)
  • KC - Field goal Stenerud 22

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This was the final AFL Championship Game, as well as the final game played between two AFL teams before the merger with the National Football League. The Chiefs won Super Bowl IV as the last AFL champion.

AFL Championship Game appearances 1960-69

Num Team W L PCT
5 Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers 1 4 .200
4 Houston Oilers 2 2 .500
3 Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs 3 0 1.00
3 Buffalo Bills 2 1 .667
3 Oakland Raiders 1 2 .333
1 New York Jets 1 0 1.00
1 Boston Patriots 0 1 .000

See also

References

External links