SUPER BOWL XI RUNNER UP 1976 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

January 9, 1977 was a day that the Minnesota Vikings again fell short of the Super Bowl win they so desperately wanted.  The 32-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders was the last hurrah for a team that dominated the NFC for much of the 1970s. They almost went to 4 Super Bowls in a row.  That famous “Hail Mary” against Dallas in the ’75 NFC Divisional playoff should have been called pass interference on Drew Pearson.

vikxiThink of how rewritten the 1970s in the NFL would have been had they won those Super Bowls…

  • Had they won Super Bowl IV against the Chiefs there would still be talk of inferiority between the AFL and NFL even though they were merging the following year.
  • Had they won Super Bowl VIII in Chuck Foreman’s (The U) rookie year the Dolphins do not repeat and do not become a dynasty.
  • Had they won the next year in Super Bowl IX the Steelers dynasty does not take place.
  • Which leads to Super Bowl XI, had the Vikings won that gamevikxi.1 it would have added to Oakland’s (at that time) failed legacy and would have handed them their 8th loss in AFL or AFC Championship games including 2 Super Bowls in 10 years.

 

This team has never received their due.  They dominated the black and blue division and were the scourge of the NFC for many years.  The legacy of the players was too damaged for not winning the Super Bowl.  Come on, the length of time it took for Paul Krause, the NFL’s all time leading interceptor, to get into the Hall of Fame was ridiculous.  The fact that Jim Marshall and Chuck Foreman aren’t in the Hall is a travesty.

11This team was one of the best in the 1970s and this team was the last one to reach the Super Bowl.  Buddy Ryan coaxed a good year out of a “Purple People Eater’s” defense that was aging. Ahmad Rashad and Sammy White were decent receivers and the aforementioned Chuck Foreman (The U) teamed with Fran Tarkenton (the all time touchdown and yardage leader at the time) to form a formidable offense.

An interesting contrast in handling coming up short in the Super Bowl is between Fran Tarkenton and Head Coach Bud Grant. Tarkenton told NFL Films how those games have haunted him all these years. How it robbed the Vikings of their dignity and celebrity which cost teammates Hall of Fame votes. Where Bud Grant said he never looked at any of them on field and it doesn’t bother him one bit. Always looking ahead.

super-bowl-logo-1976Yet if you catch the end of Super Bowl XI as the cameras panned the Viking sideline, you could see a deep hurt in every Viking player’s face. It was as though you could see the last of their prime as an elite team evaporate from the players as the final moments ticked down. Unlike the Buffalo Bills 4 year Super Bowl run, this one lasted 8 years starting with their appearance in IV.

Chuck Foreman only had 1 more 1,000 yard season in 1977 before his career wound down. DT Alan Page was with the Chicago Bears in 1978, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Fran Tarkenton were gone after 1979. Even Metropolitan Stadium was gone by 1982 as the team moved indoors with the Metrodome. The end of an era for a once proud franchise. One last look back is in order:

This was the last conference championship ring the Minnesota Vikings won.  1976 NFC Champions.

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SUPER BOWL VIII RUNNER UP 1973 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

This was the bauble the Vikings won making it to Super Bowl VIII. Once there they lost to Miami 24-7 yet polished off Dallas 27-10 in the NFC Championship Game. It was the first of 3 in a 4 year run after drafting Chuck Foreman (The U) and  acquiring Fran Tarkenton in a trade with the Giants.

Bowl VIIIThis was the Purple People Eaters at their best.  They threatened to have an undefeated season until a late season upset at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons on a Monday night. The Vikings were 9-0 and the last unbeaten team.  Although they finished 12-2, Pete Rozelle’s schedule makers were trying to negate their cold weather home field advantage. They played 4 of their last 5 on the road where their 2 losses came. They were very close to going undefeated had they a more fair schedule.

Could this have been backlash against Bud Grant for saying Don Shula had an unfair advantage being on the NFL competition committee??

Chuck Foreman was rookie of the year with 1,363 total yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs.  John Gilliam was a tremendous deep threat with 42 receptions, 907 yards and 8 touchdowns. The play action was set up by the 6th best rushing attack that ran for 2,275 yards in 1973. Aside from Foreman, Oscar Reed (401 yds), Ed Marinaro (302 yds of 80’s tvHill Street Blues fame), Dave Osborn (216 yds), Bill Brown (206 yds), and even Fran Tarkenton pitched in with (202 yds) and everyone had a better than 4.0 avg per rush.

viii44Bud Grant’s ball control offense rested the NFC’s sixth best defense. Led by Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page (NFL MVP in ’71), and Gary Larsen, they were still the best front four in football and were in the midst of a division dominance that ruled the NFC Central for the better part of 8 years.

super-bowl-logo-1973They came up short in Rice Stadium vs the Dolphins but with their offense intact they would have a few more chances. Everyone was still in their prime  Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, and Chuck Foreman should ALL be in the Hall!!

Top Ten Single Season Defenses in NFL History : #8 1975 Minnesota Vikings

Much like the “dead ball” era in major league baseball when pitchers dominated the 1960’s, NFL defenses in the ’70’s were the equivalent in football. Up in Minnesota, the Vikings used a dominant front four to limit opponents to 225.2 yards per game. Far and away the best in the league that year. In fact the ’75 Steelers, #9 on this list, was ranked 4th allowing 261.5 yards for the season. They only gave up 180 points or 12.3 pts per game in the ’75 campaign.

Interestingly this team didn’t use it’s cold weather advantage to compile these statistics. They played 3 of their final 4 games on the road. One of those came in the temperature controlled Silverdome against the Lions. Within their statistics you can definitely see their dominance. They held 6 teams to 10 points or less while ranking #1 against the pass (115.8 yds / gm) and #1 against the run (109.4 yds/ gm).  This team threatened to go undefeated bolting out to a 10-0 start.

NFL's All Time interception leader with 81. Paul Krause

NFL’s All Time interception leader with 81. Hall of Famer Paul Krause

Led by All Pro and Pro Bowl DT Alan Page, this group put significant pressure on the quarterback. Free Safety Paul Krause, the NFL’s all time leading interceptor had 10 on the season. He made the Pro Bowl in ’75 along with MLB Jeff Siemon who picked off 3 more passes and CB Bobby Bryant who snatched 6. They were 3rd in interceptions with 28.

The only knock on this group is they played just 2 top 10 offenses the entire year. However they did face the #1 ranked offense in the Buffalo Bills in the season finale. OJ was threatening for 2,000 again and playing at home, was held to 57 yards rushing to finish with 1,817. They held the Bills to just 13 points and forced them to miss the playoffs.

From this group, Alan Page, Paul Krause, and DE Carl Eller all made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are many who believe DE Jim Marshall should be in as well. This team went into the playoffs with a head of steam. They lost 17-10, when Roger Staubach hit Drew Pearson in the famous “Hail Mary” with :24 left in the NFC Divisonal Playoffs.

There stellar defensive season ranks 8th in The Chancellor of Football’s list.

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The Soul Of The Game: The Purple People Eaters

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.

All four made the Pro Bowl in 1969.

All four made the Pro Bowl in 1969.

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.

Thanks for the years of great play gentlemen.vikings today