Hi kids! Did you miss me? The crappy thing about the off-season is that we have to endure the fact that there is no meaningful football, but the good thing about that is that we can go do things, like go on vacation, which is what I've been doing the last two weeks.
I went to Germany and met my grandsons, and for me, it was a fairly emotional moment. I can't really put into words how cool it is to watch your little girl with their child, being a full time grown up mommy. To have two daughters that delivered baby boys two weeks apart is, well, a blessing.
And because I will do everything in my power to make sure they grow up Vikings fans, they're going to have to deal with some sordid history, which we'll get to in a minute. But wouldn't it be nice if we could turn back the clock to one moment in time and change it, and possibly alter the entire trajectory of the franchise? Not a game, nor a season, but one particular moment--a trade, a play within a game, a draft pick that wasn't made, maybe a player injury--that might change and alter things, and be the difference between being 'cursed' or having a Super Bowl trophy to brag about.
And thanks to this post from the Phinsider, they helped clarify what I was thinking and how to make a post out of this.
Lord knows, the Vikes have more than their fair share of these types of moments--pick any number of Super Bowl plays, the Herschel trade, wide left, 12 men in the huddle...sigh. But for all that tragedy, for me there are two.
The first one was in December of 1975 and the infamous Hail Mary Game. The Vikings steamrolled though the 1975 season, and both the Vikings offense and defense were the #1 ranked units in the NFL. Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman ran the early West Coast offense to perfection, and the Purple People Eaters were as formidable as ever. They were 10 points from a perfect season, and this team had a Super Bowl vibe about them that was as strong as the Joe Kapp '69 team. They really had no weaknesses, and with home field advantage at the Met throughout the playoffs, they seemed an overwhelming favorite to return to the Super Bowl.
Their opponent that fateful day was the Dallas Cowboys, a good team, but not as good as the Vikings. However, Dallas played the Vikes tough, taking a 10-7 lead into the 4th quarter. Late in the game, Fran Tarkenton lead the Vikings on an epic drive, and when Brent McClanahan went in from the one with just a little over a minute left, another trip to the NFC Championship and Super Bowl seemed like a foregone conclusion.
From midfield, Roger Staubach avoided the Vikings rush and threw a deep pass to WR Drew Pearson down the right sideline. Vikings CB Nate Wright had Pearson covered like a glove, and then all of a sudden, Wright was on the ground, Pearson had the ball and was crossing the goal line. A flag was thrown, and what should've been an easy offensive pass interference call was a defensive PI call on Wright.
Play stands. Touchdown. Dallas wins 17-14.
That loss gut punched me. Heck, I was only 8 at the time, but I still remember where I was (my Aunt and Uncle's house in White Bear Lake), what I was wearing (red nylon turtleneck and some groovy 70's pants with red, yellow, and brown stripes), and what happened when Pearson caught the ball (my dad threw his beer bottle and cussed a blue streak. First time I remember him cussing in front of me).
The other moment in time is a year later, in Super Bowl XI against Oakland. The 1976 Vikings and the Purple People Eaters were near the end of the line, but still had a formidable lineup. They were a veteran unit, and matched up well against the Raiders, at least on paper.
The Vikings Super Bowl history is one of unmatched futility--they've never lead, never scored more than 14 points in a game, and were thoroughly outplayed in every facet. But Super Bowl Xi started out differently. In the first quarter, the Raiders got the ball but were stopped cold deep in their own territory. Raiders punter Ray Guy came out to kick, and the Vikings blocked it, setting them up inside the five.
Ray Guy had never had a punt blocked in his career up until that point. This was the sign.
This was it. It was going to be different. Give the Vikings a lead and some momentum, get the Raiders playing on their heels...yeah, this is going to be our day.
Um, no. Vikings RB Brent McClanahan (WHY DID CHUCK FOREMAN NOT GET THE BALL THERE?) took a Fran Tarkenton handoff at the two, was hit, fumbled, and lost the ball. The Raiders recovered, and after a 35 yard run around left end by Clarence Davis, it was over. Yes, it was still the first quarter, but the 'here we go again' vibe was so palpable I could feel it through the TV.
Early in the fourth quarter I ended up working on my Boy Scouts soap box derby racing car I was so mad.
If you ask me, reverse the outcome of those two plays and I think the Vikings win the Super Bowl each time.
What's your franchise changing moment?