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.
- 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 game 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.
This 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.
Yet 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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