I don’t remember watching this game, as I was just 4 years old, but I have seen the NFL Films version several times and get upset every time. The Vikings were favored by 2 touchdowns before the game and for good reason.
Unquestionably, the Purple were the best team on paper in the NFL for the entire 1969 season. With a 12-2 record, the Vikes had amassed more points than any other team in football- 379, for an average of 28 points per game! Their defense was just as good- the “Purple-People-Eaters”- allowing an average of only 9 points per game, which made them the most feared team in the NFL!
Unfortunately, the Super Bowl isn’t decided by previous reputation- If it was, the Vikes would have won this game for sure. Instead, the AFL’s Chiefs rocked all over the Vikes in this game right from the start. The Chiefs scored field goals on their first 2 drives of game and took a 6-0 lead.
Under the leadership of QB “Injun Joe” Kapp, the purple just couldn’t get going. Kapp, the fiery leader of the Vikings was never known for being a “pretty quarterback, but in this game he was downright ugly! Every time he went back to pass one the Chiefs front four of Buck Buchanon, Jerry Mays, Aaron Brown or Curley Culp would be in his face. Every time the Vikes tried to run, they were stopped cold!
The Chiefs were dominating the game early, and had just taken a 9-0 lead on Stenrud’s 3rd Field Goal when disaster struck the Vikes. On the ensuing kick off, Charlie West took the ball at the end zone and raced out to about the 20 yard line, before he fumbled the ball away to a Kansas City defender.
The “Purple People” stood their ground, throwing KC for a few losses, but the Chiefs prevailed on a 3rd and Goal from the 5 when RB Mike Garrett cut back to the end zone on a misdirection play that fooled the tired and worn out Defense. The Chiefs had built a 16-0 halftime lead behind Len Dawson’s heads up play. It didn’t help the Vikes cause much that the Chiefs Defense made them look like scared patsies, either.
It was obvious that Bud Grant had some words with his team at halftime, because the Vikings came out in the 3rd quarter and were all fired up. The Vikes took possession at their own 31 yard line and marched 61 yards down the field in 10 plays! It was a great drive, capped off by Dave Osborne’s 4-yard vault into paydirt! Minnesota had taken the momentum away from Kansas City with a mix of quick passes and short runs. For the first time in the game, the Vikes looked like the favorites!
The momentum swing was to be short lived as Chief Quarterback Len Dawson called a surprise run play on a 3rd and Seven, and caught the aggressive pass rushing Vikings off guard. It was just one of many “Vike Killer” plays that Dawson (12-17, 142 yards) called, making him the game’s MVP. On that same drive, Lenny threw a short out to Otis Taylor that turned into a 46-yard Touchdown pass and sent Chief’s coach Hank Stram into a “girlish frenzy.” Of course the TD could have been prevented had it not been for 2 missed tackles by Viking defenders.
With the score 23-7, the Vikings tried to comeback but the Chiefs defense would not allow it. Under constant harassment, Kapp could not find enough time to throw. The frustrated QB ended 2 drives by throwing interceptions to KC defenders. Even though the Vikes defense held up the rest of the game, the Chiefs ran out valuable clock time. With 5 minutes left, Kapp (16-25, 183 yards) was knocked out of the game. His replacement, Gary Cuozzo promptly snuffed out any last minute heroics by throwing an interception of his own.
In total KC’s defense limited the Vikes renowned rushing game to just 67 yards and had 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. Yikes! On a positive note, the Super Bowl crowd of 80,562 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans set a new record, which was nice.