Super Bowl IX Review: Steelers vs. Vikings
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Date: January 12, 1975
Site: Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
Point-Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers -3/Minnesota Vikings +3
Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 7
MVP: FB Franco Harris
Super Bowl IX brought in a new era, as the team of the 70’s made its first imprint. This would be the first Super Bowl win for the Steelers, who from 1975-1980 would win 4 Super Bowls. Super Bowl 1975 would kick off that dynasty. This Pittsburgh squad, led by Chuck Noll, had 9 Hall of Fame players on the team. This was the 3rd superbowl held at Tulane Stadium and the last pro game to ever be held there.
While this Super Bowl Sunday kicked off a dynasty, it only served to further cast the Vikings in the loser role. They did something right to become the first NFC team to make it to 3 Super Bowls, but they actually outdid the lethargy showed in their first two Bowls. After scoring 7 points in each of their first two appearances in the big game, they only managed 6 in Super Bowl 9.
The Steelers had been progressing in the early 70’s and by 1974 were the most talent-loaded team in the league. At 10-3-1, they had turned the corner. Legendary QB Terry Bradshaw took over for Joe Gilliam early in the season and while his stats were not great, he was beginning to exhibit the leadership and clutch play that would later become his trademark. And he had the tools to work with-- Franco Harris had 1000 yards and Rocky Bleier was doing his thing, chipping in with hard-nosed play from the fullback position.
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In the day of defenses with colorful nicknames, Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” stood above the rest. With Mean Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount and other standouts--they were one of the better defensive units of all time. They were countered by Minnesota’s “Purple People Eaters,” making Super Bowl IX sound like something out of a comic book.
Minnesota veteran QB Fran Tarkenton had another big year. RB Chuck Foreman was still serviceable and of course that beautiful defensive line--with Carl Eller and Alan Page. Minnesota finished the season 10-4. Both defenses were top-ranked in their conference. The Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills 32-14 at home in their first playoff game, before beating the Raiders in the AFC title game, 24-13, to earn their Super Bowl berth. Minnesota, meanwhile, beat the St. Louis Cardinals and the the Rams 14-10 in the NFC title game to get to their 3rd Super Bowl. The only team to ever lose the big game twice, Minnesota was eager to not drop to 0-3 on Super Bowl Sunday.
Super Bowl 9 Recap
First Half: The first half was perhaps the least-offensive opening 30 minutes in Super Bowl history. The only score of the first half was the Super Bowl’s first safety, when a bungled Tarkenton handoff put the Steelers up by the unusual halftime score of 2-0. Pittsburgh, however, showed more potential, at least getting in position for two field goal tries, neither of which were successful.
The Vikings continued their trend of squandered drives in this superbowl in the 2nd quarter. A Rocky Bleier fumble gave the Vikings the ball deep in Pittsburgh territory. Another stalled drive and a missed field goal sent the Vikings back to the sidelines empty-handed. Later in the half, Tarkenton again drove the Vikings deep, but Steelers safety Glen Edwards hit Vikings WR John Giliam as he made the catch at the 5-yard line and the ball ended up in the hands of Steelers DB Mel Blount.
Second Half: Minnesota returner Bill Brown fumbled and the Steelers recovered on the Minnesota 30-yard line. Franco Harris had a few big runs, including a 9-yard touchdown run that put the Steelers up 9-0. Minnesota continued moving the ball and kept right on having nothing to show for it. A deflected pass ended up being picked off by Mean Joe Greene. Early in the last quarter, a fumble gave the Vikings the ball and true to their form--they marched it right down the field and ended up screwing it up, when Greene forced Vikings running back Chuck Foreman to fumble.
Minnesota’s defense was resolute and after pinning the Steelers deep in their own territory, Matt Blair blocked the Pittsburgh punt and Terry Brown recovered it in the end zone. The missed extra point made it a 9-6 game. Feeling the heat, Pittsburgh answered immediately with a big drive. Bradshaw made some key connections with tight end Larry Brown, which culminated in a 4-yard touchdown pass to Brown late in the 4th quarter. Another Tarkenton interception made it all but official.
It was the beginning of an era and another gigantic Minnesota disappointment. In a trio of Super Bowls, the Vikings had managed a woeful 20 points. Fullback Franco Harris, who won the Super Bowl MVP, had 158 yards on 34 carries, including a touchdown.