After losing all five preseason games, the Broncos become the first AFL victor when they defeat the Patriots in the first-ever AFL game, a 13-10 win at Nickerson Field in Boston.
The game on Friday night, September 9, 1960, was not televised. Prime-time football was a notion barely conceived, especially for a league that had barely begun to crawl. And the lights at Nickerson Field weren’t bright enough for a viable nighttime broadcast, anyway.
But the Broncos lit up the night with big plays: quarterback Frank Tripucka’s 59-yard pass to Al Carmichael for the first touchdown in AFL history, and then kicker/runner/receiver/returner Gene Mingo’s 76-yard jaunt through the Patriots’ punt-coverage team for the touchdown that eventually provided the winning points in a 13-10 triumph.
“When I caught it, I took a couple of steps to the right, back to the left and then cutting back to the right, I can see the blocking developing,” Mingo would remember decades later. “As I ran down the sideline, somebody was reaching for me and another guy took him out. As I was going down the sidelines, coaches, players and everybody were waving for me to go on. I just kept running—running scared or whatever—but I made it into the end zone. I don’t know if I ever ran that fast.”
The only problem? The multi-talented Mingo was needed for the point-after-touchdown.
“I made it into the end zone and I was out of breath, tired and rubbery-legged. It was time for me to kick the extra point,” he said. “I kicked this big divot; my leg was so dead.”
Mingo missed the kick, but his lively legs on the punt return were more than enough to get the Broncos off to a promising start.