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51 for LI: Boom! Madden Wins Super Bowl XI

[lead align=”default”]Only 11 short days remain until Super Bowl LI between the Falcons and Patriots. Neither team appeared in Super Bowl XI, but a legendary coach did.[/lead]

The Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings faced off 40 years ago in the NFL’s championship game. Back in the days of 14 games, when the National Football League as a unified entity was still very young, the Raiders and Vikings were two of the best teams around. With John Madden at the helm, before spending many years in our living rooms with Pat Summerall, the Raiders found a way.

Super Bowl XI: 1976 Oakland Raiders

Being a one-loss team throughout the course of an entire NFL season is impressive. Even in the case of the 2007 New England Patriots, it was impressive, though it was an unhappy ending. Oakland didn’t have that problem.

Led by the indomitable Ken Stabler, the Raiders went 13-1 during the regular season. Their lone defeat was Week 4 at Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, a blowout at that. Oakland got it all out of their system early, and they closed the regular season on a ten-game win streak.

The Raiders grabbed the one-seed in the AFC, and in the Divisional Round had a tough win against New England. Their game against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship was much more orderly. For Oakland, it was their second Super Bowl appearance.

Super Bowl XI: 1976 Minnesota Vikings

While Oakland had the likes of Stabler, Gene Upshaw, and famous head coach John Madden, Minnesota had the Purple People Eaters. The Vikings defensive line had Alan Page, a Hall of Famer in his last season in Minnesota. You may know Page as a former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, which is pretty damn impressive. This was right around the end of the Purple People Eaters era, and it makes sense if you look at their history in succeeding years.

Quarterback Fran Tarkenton and his Vikings didn’t lose a game until Week 8, but it was one of only two regular season losses. The 1976 Vikings went 11-2-1 to take the NFC Central. Minnesota would go on to post comfortable margins of victory over the Redskins and Rams to reach the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XI: The Game

The shutout first quarter of Super Bowl XI was less about defense and more about special teams. Errol Mann’s field goal attempt for Oakland was no good, and one of HOF punter Ray Guy’s kicks was blocked. There was some defense on display, however, when Oakland’s defense recovered a Brent McClanahan fumble (no relation to Rue McClanahan, as far as we know).

That was as good as it got for the Vikings. Mann made a field goal, and then two Raiders touchdowns pushed the lead to 16-0 at the half. When football resumes, Oakland’s lead got as big as 19-0. Minnesota only got as close as 19-7 before the Raiders blew it open again. Oakland won the game, 32-14. The Vikings turned it over three times (vs. Oakland’s zero) in defeat.

Sadly, if you’re a Vikings fan, this was the last time you’d ever see Minnesota’s team in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XI: Highlights

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