51 for LI: Super Bowl IV, Hail to the Chiefs
[lead align=”default”]The Falcons and Patriots meet in the Super Bowl in just four days. It may be higher-scoring than Super Bowl IV, which was lopsided, but not in the way people expected.[/lead]
That contest, the last of the Super Bowls before the official AFL-NFL merge, pitted the Kansas City Chiefs against the Minnesota Vikings. For the Chiefs, it was their second time in the big game. Their first was Super Bowl I against the Green Bay Packers. For Minnesota, it was their first trip to the AFL-NFL championship.
Super Bowl IV: 1969 Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings were the NFL’s last champions before the merger became total in 1970. Minnesota went 12-2 in 1969, and would launch into a stretch of four Super Bowl appearances from 1969 to 1976. Unfortunately for them, at this peak, they ended up with nothing. The Buffalo Bills feel for them deeply.
Despite losing the first and last games of the regular season, they won twelve in a row in the middle. Thanks to that streak, the Vikings won the NFL Central by a comfortable margin. As such, both of their NFL playoff games were at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, MN. After a tight escape against the Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota were the NFL champions after defeating Cleveland, 27-7.
The “Purple People Eaters” were in full swing back then, and their top-rated defense helped lead them to Super Bowl IV.
Super Bowl IV: 1969 Kansas City Chiefs
Hank Stram led his Chiefs to an 11-3 record in the AFL West in their last pre-merger season. A long win streak in the middle of the season helped them streak to a playoff berth. The Oakland Raiders won the division, meaning the Chiefs would have to win all their playoff games somewhere other than home.
Just as their eventual Super Bowl foes had the best defense in their league, Kansas City had the best in their own. They allowed just 177 points in their 14 games. Thanks also in part to their strong run game and Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, the Chiefs outscored opponents by an average margin of 13 points/game.
The Chiefs went to Shea Stadium and beat the defending Super Bowl champion New York Jets in a close, low-scoring game. This pushed them into the AFL championship, where they beat the Oakland Raiders, 17-7.
Super Bowl IV: The Game
Minnesota entered this game as 12-point favorites over the Chiefs from the “lesser” AFL. Almost fifty years later, no doubt someone out there is still kicking himself for laying the points.
The game was played under poor weather conditions, which you’d think would mean running the football and not many field goal attempts. At least one of those things was true for one of the teams. Kansas City ran 42 times and ended up with three made field goals, all in the first half.
The heavily-favored Vikings played a game as sloppy as the weather. Minnesota committed five turnovers and managed just 239 yards against the Chiefs defense. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that they got on the scoreboard. However, they were trailing 16-0 at the time.
In a 16-7 ballgame, just minutes after the Vikings scored, Len Dawson threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Otis Taylor. This resulted in a 23-7 contest, which was the margin of Kansas City’s first (and only) Super Bowl victory. Score another one for the AFL.