The Super Bowl is just 48 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 48 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
Super Bowl IV was played in New Orleans’ ancient Tulane Stadium on January 11, 1970. The game pitted the NFL champion Minnesota Vikings against the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League. This game was historic for a number of reasons, but most significantly due to it being the last game in AFL history. The merger was all set to take effect for the 1970 season. Coming off the Jets’ victory in Super Bowl III, the AFL was confident while Vegas remained skeptical. The Vikes were installed as a double-digit favorite.
Bud Grant’s Vikings were virtually unbeatable in NFL play in 1969. They finished 1st in offense AND defense and rattled off a 12-game winning streak. The best player in all of football at the time, Alan Page, anchored their powerful defensive line. Along with future Hall of Famers Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Paul Krause, the unit was knows as the “purple people-eaters.” They yielded just 133 points over 14 games.
The offense was just as spectacular that season led by quarterback Joe Kapp. Kapp, a CFL-transplant, recorded by far his best campaign in the league in 1969 and won NFL MVP. Their offense put up over 50 points on three different occasions and were known for brute force and power. That style was on display in their frigid home playoff games. They survived despite a valiant effort by John Brodie’s 49ers in the divisional round. Then, they crushed Cleveland to earn their first NFL championship.
Their opponents from the AFL were the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs outlasted the defending world-champion Jets in the AFL Championship game after holding off Oakland in the western division. Since their appearance in Super Bowl I, they had added Willie Lanier and Curley Culp. Consequently, in addition to their wide open offense, they now possessed perhaps the greatest defense in AFL history.
Both teams moved the ball well early and were aided by turnovers and penalties. On Minnesota’s first possession, Grant decided against a 46-yard field goal attempt. The Chiefs, on their ensuing drive, decided for attempting a 48-yard field goal by future Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud. And, he nailed it giving KC the 3-0 lead. Two field goals and two fumbles later, the Chiefs were in prime position to take a commanding lead. NFL Films famously recorded Chiefs’ coach Hank Stram call the next play: “65 toss power trap!” The play worked as Mike Garrett ran through a gaping hole for touchdown giving the Chiefs a 16-0 lead.
Minnesota finally scored on their first drive of the second half when Dave Osborn powered home from the four. But, the Chiefs responded. From the Vikings’ forty-six, Len Dawson hit Otis Taylor on a short out. He broke a tackle and was gone. The scamper down the near sideline stands as one of the vintage moments of early Super Bowl history. It also put the Vikes away for good.
The AFL tied the NFL at two wins apiece. The Chiefs’ dismantling of the mighty Vikings proved that there definitely was league-wide parity.
1970 would usher in a new era of pro football. Twenty six teams were divided into 2 conferences. Each conference had three divisions. The Colts, Browns and Steelers agreed to move from the NFL to the AFC.
The Chiefs have not returned to the Super Bowl since that great victory. Meanwhile, Minnesota returned three times only to lose all of those.
Tomorrow, we will take a look at Super Bowl V aka “The Blunder Bowl.”
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills