by Brendon Rosenau, Patriots Daily Staff
September 9, 2009
It was just their fourth year in existence, but in 1963 the Boston Patriots showed they were not a typical expansion team. Led by five future Patriot Hall of Famers – Nick Buoniconti, Gino Cappelletti, Bob Dee, Jim Lee Hunt, and Vito “Babe” Parilli – and featuring a roster stacked with 10 Pro Bowlers, the Patriots finished the season 7-6-1 and won the AFL East conference.
Boston finished the regular season tied atop the conference standings with Buffalo. The tie forced a playoff duel between the two teams at the old War Memorial Stadium. It would be the Patriots first playoff appearance and, more importantly, their first postseason win. The road to the playoffs wasn’t easy, but what did come easy to those early-day Pats?
On Nov. 10 the Pats lost a heartbreaking 7-6 decision to the San Diego Chargers, a team that would cause further damage later in the year, dropping to 5-5. After that, though, the Pats started to play their best football of the year. A tie with the Chiefs was followed by riveting victories over both Buffalo and Houston. The Patriots moved to 7-5-1 and in sole possession of first place.
All they needed to do was beat the Chiefs in the regular season finale to advance to their first AFL title game. However, the Pats were manhandled by an upstart Chiefs team 35-3. Meanwhile, Buffalo, who two weeks ago were occupying the cellar, rallied from a 10-3 halftime deficit to beat New York 19-10 and create a deadlock.
Two weeks after blowing their first chance, the Patriots took full advantage of their reprieve. Boston drew first blood on a 28-yard field goal from Cappelletti (3 F.G.’s, PAT, 109 receiving yards). Larry Garron then hauled in a 59-yard pass from Parilli to put the visitors ahead 10-0. Cappelletti added two more field goals for a 16-0 halftime lead. The Bills cut the lead to 16-8 in the third, but Garron (120 yards receiving) caught a 17-yard strike from Parilli in the fourth to put the Pats safely ahead. The Patriots stout defense limited the Bills to just seven yards rushing on 12 attempts.
The good feelings didn’t last too long as Mike Holovak’s team was waxed by San Diego 51-10 in the title game. Garron scored the lone touchdown on a 7-yard run.
1963 Boston Patriots Leaders
- Babe Parilli, 2345 yards (5th AFL), 13TD, 24INT (2nd), 52.1 rating., 5 rushing TD’s (4th).
- Larry Garron, 175 carries, 750 yards (5th), 2 TD; 26 receptions, 418 yards , 2 TD; 1168 total yards (6th).
- Harry Crump, 5 rushing TD (4th)
- Jim Colclough, 42 receptions, 693 yards , 3 TD
- Art Graham, 5 TD catches
- Gino Cappelletti ,34 receptions, 493 yards, 2 TD’s; 22-38 F.G.‘s, 35 XP 113 total points (1st)
- Bob Suci, 7 INT (4th); 277 yards led league (1st)2 TD (1st)
- All Pro: Cappelletti (SE), Charley Long (G), Billy Neighbors (G), Houston Antwine (DT), Larry Eisenhower (DE), Tom Addison (LB), Nick Buoniconti (MLB), Ron Hall (S)
- Pro Bowl: Parilli (QB), Garron (FB), Cappelletti, Long, Neighbors, Bob Dee (DE), Antwine, Eisenhauer, Addison, Buoniconti, Hall
Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to welcome Brendon Rosenau as our official Patriots Daily historian today. In celebration of the Pats’ silver anniversary this season, Brendon will spotlight the greatest teams in Patriots history with a weekly “50th Anniversary Minute”. Welcome aboard, Brendon.