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Thread: Viking Myth

  1. #1
    Del Rio Guest

    Viking Myth

    If ever a Vikings team was fated to be NFL champions, 1975 was the year: Minnesota won its first 10 games, finished the schedule with a 12-2 record, and boasted the No. 1 defense in the NFL while outscoring their collective opponents by more than a 2-1 margin (377-180). Their divisional playoff challenger that year in a game scheduled for 28 December 1975 was the Dallas Cowboys, a 10-4 team with 12 rookies on their 43-man roster, facing a Vikings unit with more experience and a home-field advantage. Minnesota was a seven-point favorite to win that game, but a tough Dallas defense held them to a single touchdown and led the Vikings by a 10-7 score well into the fourth quarter. Minnesota then mounted a 70-yard touchdown drive that put them ahead 14-10 with 5½ minutes left in the game. What happened in the closing seconds of that contest is something most Vikings fans wish they could blot from memory.

    Dallas was facing a fourth-and-16 situation from their own 25-yard-line with 44 seconds to go. If the Cowboys failed to gain at least 16 yards for a first down on the next play, the ball would go to Minnesota, who would simply run out the clock to win the game. As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune described the ensuing play:


    . . . on what the Purple Faithful were sure would be the Cowboys' final gasp, [Dallas quarterback Roger] Staubach gunned the ball toward the right sideline. [Wide receiver Drew] Pearson went up at midfield, caught the ball and came down out of bounds. The official on the scene, Jerry Bergman, ruled the nudge Pearson had received from [Minnesota cornerback Nate] Wright took him out of bounds. The Vikings protested, but it was a first down for Dallas.
    Worse was yet to come. With time running out for the Cowboys and the Vikings only 24 seconds away from a trip to the conference finals and another shot at the Super Bowl, Roger Staubach cut loose with another bomb to Drew Pearson, this one a 50-yard touchdown completion known ever since as the "Hail Mary" pass:

    Staubach's desperation toss and Pearson's contortionist catch — the ball wound up lodged snugly between his right elbow and right hip — shocked and angered the Vikings. They argued vehemently that Pearson had been guilty of offensive pass interference because, they said, he pushed Nate Wright, the defender, out of the way so he could catch the ball. But they lost the argument . . .

    Tarkenton and the offense came back on the field after the kickoff. Tarkenton was sacked twice. Each time, the quarterback rose and raced after an official, to protest the lack of an offensive interference call against Pearson. This further incensed the spectators and a barrage of bottles, cans, Thermos jugs and other items came flying from the right-field bleachers.
    As the Vikings tried to stage a miracle rally with 14 seconds remaining, a whiskey bottle came flying out of the stands and conked field judge Armen Terzian in the head. The official lay on the ground for several minutes while the game was halted as he received medical treatment, finally walking off the field under his own power with a large white bandage wrapped around his head. (The bottle-throwing culprit was later prosecuted for his act.) There were no miracles to be had for Minnesota when play resumed, though; the Vikings failed to score and were eliminated from the playoffs in a 17-14 loss. Tight end Stu Voigt said to Minnesota quarterback Tarkenton later: "It was like a nightmare, Fran. It was a nightmare the way it ended for us."

    Sadly, the nightmare wasn't over for Fran Tarkenton. As he sat in a trailer in the parking lot of Bloomington's Metropolitan Stadium commiserating and watching the telecast of another playoff game, he learned — on what was already quite possibly the worst day of his life — that his 63-year-old father, the Rev. Dallas Tarkenton Sr., had suffered a heart attack and passed away while watching the Vikings-Cowboys game on TV with his two other sons at home in Savannah, Georgia.

    Some fans, determined to find more than coincidence in coincidences, later concluded that the infamous "Hail Mary" game had actually caused the death of the elder Tarkenton — the terrible combination of the Cowboys' last-minute comeback, the controversial officiating on key plays, the specter of a referee's being hit in the head with a bottle on national television, and yet another crushing defeat for his son's team had, they assumed, induced Dallas Tarkenton's fatal heart attack.

    But it wasn't so. If nothing else, at least Fran Tarkenton had the consolation of knowing that nothing about that fateful game had anything to do with his father's death. Dallas Tarkenton, Sr., was stricken during the third quarter — before the "Hail Mary" pass, before the controversy over the lack of an offensive pass interference call, before the bottle-throwing incident, before the Vikings' final defeat — and died without regaining consciousness. He never saw the end of the game.

    Perhaps, as a sportswriter suggested at the time, in an odd sort of way, God was looking out for one of His ministers that day by calling him home a little early.

  2. #2
    ultravikingfan's Avatar
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    Viking Myth

    Thats is really intersting Del Rio.

    I need to brush-up on my knowledge of the Vikings pre-1980.

  3. #3
    Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: Viking Myth

    I still hate Pearson.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  4. #4
    Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: Viking Myth

    "Del" wrote:
    ....As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune described the ensuing play: ...
    Trivia, the Star-Tribune didn't exist then.
    At that time the morning paper was the Mpls Tribune and the afternoon paper was the Star.
    I used to deliver the tribune as a young punk and read the sports page on my bike as I delivered the papers in the wee hours of the morning.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  5. #5
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    Re: Viking Myth

    "Prophet" wrote:
    "Del" wrote:
    ....As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune described the ensuing play: ...
    Trivia, the Star-Tribune didn't exist then.
    At that time the morning paper was the Mpls Tribune and the afternoon paper was the Star.
    I used to deliver the tribune as a young punk and read the sports page on my bike as I delivered the papers in the wee hours of the morning.
    I was 9 when that game took place and still remember two things- The feeling of joy turning to contempt for the cowboys on that final play and the empathy my 9 year old mind had for the guy who threw the bottle.

  6. #6
    erik5032's Avatar
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    Re: Viking Myth

    Wow how far did you have to go to dig this thread up?

  7. #7
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    Re: Viking Myth

    Why did you have to go and dig up this thread?
    We're bringing purple back.

  8. #8
    BadlandsVikings's Avatar
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    Re: Viking Myth

    "gregair13" wrote:
    Why did you have to go and dig up this thread?
    That's what he does best

  9. #9
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    Re: Viking Myth

    Thanks Del.. now I am depressed all over again.
    I remember that game well.
    Actually I remember all the big loss games well.
    The loss to Atlanta in 1999 is still the biggest heartache for me.


    This was the first conference championship game to feature two teams who play their home games in domes. The Falcons came into the game as 11 point underdogs, but managed to win an extremely competitive game late in overtime, making Minnesota the first 15-1 team ever to fail to reach the Super Bowl. The Vikings had set an NFL record with 556 points and won their nine previous home games by an average of 23 points, but they could not win this game despite maintaining a lead for nearly all of the time in regulation. Fox Sports ranked it the third most exciting NFC Championship Game ever.

    Atlanta took the opening kickoff and stormed down the field, scoring with Chris Chandler's 5-yard pass to Jamal Anderson. Aided by a 30-yard pass interference penalty on Falcons defensive back Ray Buchanan, Minnesota struck right back on their first drive with Randall Cunningham's 31-yard scoring strike to Randy Moss. In the second quarter, the Vikings converted an Atlanta fumble into a Gary Anderson field goal. Then after forcing a punt, Cunningham's 1-yard touchdown run increased his team's lead to 17-7 with 5 minutes left in the half. Atlanta lost another fumble on their next possession, giving the ball back to Minnesota again. The Vikings blew a chance at another touchdown when Moss dropped a pass in the end zone, but Anderson kicked another field goal to make the score 20-7. After forcing another Atlanta punt, the Vikings attempted to increase their lead more before halftime, but this time Falcons lineman Chuck Smith forced a fumble from Cunningham and Atlanta recovered the ball deep in Vikings territory, setting up Chandler's 14-yard touchdown pass to Terance Mathis to cut their deficit to 20-14 by the end of the half. It was the turning point for the Falcons, as the game's momentum began to shift their way.

    Atlanta forced the Vikings to punt on the opening drive of the second half, and two plays by receiver Tim Dwight, a 26-yard punt return and a 21-yard run, set up Morten Andersen's 27-yard field goal to cut their deficit to 3 points. The Vikings countered on their ensuing possession, driving 82 yards in 15 plays and scoring on Matthew Hatchette's 5-yard reception to make the score 27-17 with just over 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

    Atlanta responded by driving inside the Vikings 10-yard line and scoring with Andersen's 24-yard field goal, narrowing the gap to 27-20. Minnesota took the ensuing kickoff and marched down to the Falcons 30-yard line, but lost their scoring opportunity when Cunningham fumbled a snap and Atlanta recovered the ball. The Falcons subsequently marched deep into Vikings territory, but also failed to score when Chandler's incomplete pass on a fourth down and 2 attempt turned the ball over on downs with 6 minutes left in regulation.

    Minnesota then drove to the Falcons 20-yard line, setting up a 38-yard field goal attempt for Anderson, who had not missed a field goal all season. Another successful kick would have all but wrapped up the NFC title for Minnesota, but Anderson's kick sailed wide left, giving the ball back to Atlanta with 2:07 left and new life. Chandler then led his team down to the Vikings 16-yard line. Following a dropped interception by Minnesota LB Dwayne Rudd, Mathis' 16-yard touchdown catch tied the game with 49 seconds left and sent it into overtime.

    After the first 3 possessions of overtime ended in punts, Chandler, on a bad ankle, led his team 70 yards to set up Andersen's 38-yard field goal with 3:08 remaining that put Atlanta in the Super Bowl for the first time in team history.

    Chandler had one of the best games of his career, throwing for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Tony Martin caught 5 passes for 129 yards. Cunningham also had a solid performance, throwing for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also rushing for 13 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

    Numerous references to this game are made in Little Minnesota, an episode from the television series How I Met Your Mother.
    :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'(

    WWBGD

  10. #10
    Formo's Avatar
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    Re: Viking Myth

    Ouch. I thought '98 hurt.

    One thing we Viking fans can boast..

    We have heart.
    Vegans are eating the rainforests. =(

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