The Minnesota Vikings front four was one of the greatest defenses in NFL history. They were the NFL’s first super front four and it’s members were Hall of Famers Carl Eller and Alan Page. Gary Larsen was the other DT, then later Doug Sutherland, and DE and team captain Jim Marshall who should be. Although the 1968 Baltimore Colts were heralded as the greatest defense in NFL history for giving up a record 144 points on the way to Super Bowl III, it was this group that broke that record with 133 allowed in 1969. They also powered the Vikings to 12 straight wins (longest win streak in 35 years) and carried the team on it’s back to Super Bowl IV.
This defense made history as well. DT Alan Page was the first defensive player in NFL history to win the MVP of the league in 1971. No player would win that honor again until New York Giants LB Lawrence Taylor, who won the honor in 1986. What is interesting was the year Page won the award the Vikings didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. They lost to the Dallas Cowboys, who went on to win Super Bowl VI.
Yet this team was remembered for having reached the Super Bowl 4 times. Although they came up short in the big game as a team, what this defensive unit was able to do from 1968-1977 was spectacular. The team won 9 division championships on the way to 4 conference championships. It’s possible that they would have won a fifth conference championships and played in 4 straight Super Bowls had Dallas not completed the Hail Mary in the 1975 divisional playoff game. They preceded the Dallas Cowboys Doomsday Defense, the Steelers Steel Curtain, or the Denver Broncos Orange Crush. These were the super defenses of the 1970s immortalized by nicknames to accompany their fierce play. At the head of that pack for a decade of dominance wrests the Purple People Eaters.