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 IX RUNNER UP 1974 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Super Bowl IX!  Although the Vikings lost to Pittsburgh 16-6, this team outlasted the Rams 14-10 in the NFC Championship Game to get there.  This was the second of 3 Super Bowl appearances in a 4 year span after drafting Chuck Foreman, from The [[_]], and acquiring Fran Tarkenton in a trade from the Giants. vikingix

This was the Purple People Eaters at their best.  John Gilliam was a tremendous deep threat, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page (NFL MVP in ’71), and Gary Larsen 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.

They didn’t win the Super Bowl but still had a hell of a run and should have more Hall of Famers off of that team:  Jim Marshall and Chuck Foreman. Foreman was as dominant a RB in the mid 70s as any.  He carried the Vikings to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and was a leading receiver out of the backfield.  He was Marshall Faulk, Thurman Thomas, and Marcus Allen before they were and in a bigger body. One game that ruined his legacy was in of all places Buffalo to end the 1975 season.  super-bowl-logo-1974

In the same game where Fran Tarkenton threw for his 291st career touchdown pass to move ahead of Johnny Unitas, Chuck Foreman and OJ Simpson were putting on a clinic and were both after the NFL all time touchdown records for a season.  Well Chuck got 4 to OJ’s 3 but OJ finished with 23TDs to Chuck’s 22 to set the record.

Problem was Chuck had to leave the game after getting hit in the face with a snowball when he scored his 4th touchdown in the 4th quarter…had he scored a 5th he would have tied OJ for the single season touchdown record of 23 that would be later broken by John Riggins (24 in 1983) and an all time record may have garnered him some votes.

Yet Bud Grant’s team was aging having made their 3rd title appearance in 6 years. They were in the middle of a historic run when you look back on it. Those title losses could have reshaped history. Had they won Super Bowl IV against KC, it would have made the Jets win in the season before, a total fluke. The score would have been NFL3 to AFL1 in Super Bowl competition.

They would have kept Don Shula’s Dolphins from becoming a dynasty in VIII and would have stopped an emerging Steeler team in IX. However once they fell to the Steelers, you had to wonder if it was in their psyche to underplay in championship competition.

They had to look at Super Bowl IX and feel they gave one away.

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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!!