Vikings And The Decade Of Brilliance

When most fans of football think of the Minnesota Vikings, they often think of the recent teams that have always fielded potent offenses and competent defenses, but which have never seemed to be able to live up to their potential. The Vikings, however, have consistently been among the best in the NFL – as evidenced by their overall franchise winning percentage which is the fifth-best in the NFL. Perhaps the best years of the Vikings franchise began within eight years of the team’s 1961 entry into the NFL. During that period, which began in 1969, the Vikings would consistently dominate the NFL, appearing in four Super Bowls within an eight year period. Though they lost all of those games – and have, in fact, never won a Super Bowl title, the period between 1969 and 1977 can rightfully be thought of as the Age of the Vikings.

The beginnings of an era

Their eight-year run of dominance began with their twelve and two season in 1969, which included a streak of twelve consecutive victories. The Vikings won the right to face the Cleveland Browns in the NFL title game in January of 1970, which turned out to be the last NFL Championship ever played (the next year saw the NFL and AFL officially merge into one league). Their victory over the Browns made them the NFL’s representative in the League’s fourth Super Bowl. Though they lost that contest to the Kansas City Chiefs, it was the beginning of the Viking’s best years.

Until 1977

Playoff appearances in 1970 and then again in 1971 were the work of both an accomplished offense and a powerful defense known as the Purple People Eaters. After a 7-7 season in 1972, during which the team had focused much of its energy on reclaiming their former quarterback Fran Tarkenton, the Vikings were eager to start the 1973 campaign. With Tarkenton under center, the Vikings steamrolled their way to nine opening victories and a twelve and two record that got them into the playoffs and onto Super Bowl VIII. This time, it was the Miami Dolphins who ended their run.

Super Bowl Blues

That defeat was to be repeated, much to the chagrin of Vikings fans, when the team went back to the Super Bowl for Super Bowl IX, and this time lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 1975 team cruised to their divisional title before losing to the Cowboys in the postseason in a game that is best known for Roger Staubach’s famed “Hail Mary” pass. Missing out on the Super Bowl that year, the Vikings would nevertheless return in the next. In Super Bowl XI – against the Oakland Raiders – the Vikings lost by eighteen points.

That made a total of three Super Bowl games within a four year span. It was also the team’s fourth appearance in eight years. The Vikings of that era should, however, be judged by more than the fact that they lost all four opportunities for the crown. That fact does not diminish in any way the sheer dominance that the Vikings exerted over the NFL during that period, even without winning it all.

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categories: sports,NFL,Minnesota Vikings

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