- Super Bowl IX
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January 12, 1975
stadium = Tulane Stadium
city = New Orleans, Louisiana
attendance = 80,997
odds = Steelers by 3
Franco Harris, Running back
Grambling State UniversityBand
halftime = "Tribute to
Duke Ellington" with Mercer Ellingtonand Grambling State UniversityBand
Curt Gowdy, Al DeRogatisand Don Meredith
rating = 42.4
share = 72
commercial = $107,000
last = VIII
next = X
Super Bowl IX was an
American footballgame played on January 12, 1975at Tulane Stadiumin New Orleans, Louisianato decide the National Football League(NFL) champion following the 1974 regular season. The American Football Conference(AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers(13-3-1) defeated the National Football Conference(NFC) champion Minnesota Vikings(12-5), 16–6, to win their first Super Bowlgame.
This game matched two of the NFL's best defenses – Pittsburgh's "
Steel Curtain" against the " Purple People Eaters" of Minnesota – and two legendary quarterbacks: Terry Bradshawand Fran Tarkenton, respectively.
However, the Steelers dominated the game, recording the first safety in Super Bowl history, and limiting the Vikings to Super Bowl lows of nine first downs, 119 yards of total offense, and 17 rushing yards. The Steelers also tied Super Bowl records for the least rushing first downs allowed (2) and the least passing first downs allowed (5). Tarkenton was held to only 11 out of 26 completions for 102 passing yards, no touchdown passes, and tied a Super Bowl record with three interceptions. Furthermore, Pittsburgh became the second Super Bowl team after the
Miami Dolphinsin Super Bowl VIIto hold their opponents' offense scoreless; Minnesota's only score came on a blocked punt, and they did not even score on the extra point attempt. The Steelers accomplished all of this with two backups: linebackers Ed Bradley and Loren Toewsreplaced injured starters Andy Russell and Jack Lambert for most of the second half.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had 333 yards of total offense. Steelers
running back Franco Harris, who ran for a Super Bowl record 158 yards (more than the entire Minnesota offense) and a touchdown, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.
Pittsburgh advanced to their first Super Bowl and were playing for a league championship for the first time in team history. Their 73-year old owner
Art Rooneyfounded the Steelers as a 1933 NFL expansion team, but suffered through losing seasons for most of its 42-year history and had never made it to an NFL championship game or a Super Bowl. But in 1969, Rooney hired Chuck Nollto be the team's head coach and its fortunes started to turn.
Noll rebuilt the Steelers through the
NFL draft, selecting defensive tackle Joe Greene and defensive end L.C. Greenwoodin his first season as head coach. In 1970, Noll drafted quarterback Terry Bradshawand cornerback Mel Blount. In 1971, linebacker Jack Ham, defensive tackle Ernie Holmes, defensive tackle Dwight White, and defensive back Mike Wagnerwere selected by the team. Running back Franco Harriswas drafted in 1972. And in 1974, the Steelers picked linebacker Jack Lambert, center Mike Websterand wide receivers Lynn Swann, John Stallworthand defensive back Donnie Shell as a free agent . Bradshaw, Webster, Swann, Stallworth and Harris ended up being hall of fame players on offense, while the others formed the core nucleus of their "Steel Curtain" defense, including future Hall of Famers Greene, Ham, Blount and Lambert.
But en route to Super Bowl IX, the Steelers had started the regular season slowly, as Bradshaw and
Joe Gilliamfought to be the team's starting quarterback. Gilliam had started for the first four games of the season, but Noll eventually made Bradshaw the starter. Although Bradshaw ended up completing only 67 out of 148 passes for 785 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions, he helped lead the team to a 10-3-1 regular season record. The Steelers main offensive weapon however was running the ball. Harris rushed for 1,006 yards and five touchdowns, while also catching 23 passes for 200 yards and another touchdown. Running backs Rocky Bleier, Preston Pearson, and Steve Davisalso made important contributions, gaining a combined total of 936 yards and eight touchdowns.
But the Steelers main strength during the season was their "Steel Curtain" defense, who led the league with the fewest total yards allowed (3,074) and the fewest passing yards allowed (1,466). Greene won the
NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awardfor the second time in the last three seasons, and he and Greenwood were named to the Pro Bowl. Both of the team's outside linebackers, Ham and Andy Russell, had been also selected to play in the Pro Bowl, while Lambert already had two interceptions for 19 yards in his rookie year. And in the defensive backfield, Blount, Wagner, and Glen Edwards made an impact against opposing passing plays.
The Vikings came into the season trying to redeem themselves after
Super Bowl VIIIduring the previous year when they became the first team ever to lose two Super Bowls (the other loss was in Super Bowl IV).
Minnesota's powerful offense was still led by veteran quarterback
Fran Tarkenton, who passed for 2,598 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Vikings' primary offensive weapon was running back Chuck Foreman, who lead the team in receptions with 53 for 586 yards and six touchdowns. He was also their leading rusher with 777 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Wide receiver Jim Lash was a major deep threat, with 32 receptions for 631 yards (a 19.7 yards per catch average). Fullback Dave Osborncontributed with 514 rushing yards, and 29 receptions for 196 yards. And the Vikings offensive line, led by future Hall of Fame left tackle Ron Yary, allowed only 17 sacks.
Aided by the "
Purple People Eaters" defense, led by future hall of fame defensive linemen Carl Ellerand Alan Page, and future hall of fame safety Paul Krause, the Vikings won the NFC Centralfor the 6th time in the last 7 years.
Minnesota allowed only a combined 24 points in their playoff wins against the St. Louis Cardinals, 30-14, and their narrow defeat of the
Los Angeles Rams, 14-10, after their defense stopped an attempted comeback touchdown drive from the Rams on the Vikings' own 2-yard line.
Meanwhile, the Steelers never faced the
Miami Dolphins, who advanced to the previous three Super Bowls. While the Steelers defeated the Buffalo Bills, 32-14, in the first round, the Dolphins lost to the Oakland Raiders, 28-26, giving up Raiders running back Clarence Davis' 8-yard touchdown reception with 26 seconds left in the game in a play that became known as the " Sea of Hands". The Steelers then won the AFC Championship Game over the Raiders, 24-13.
uper Bowl pregame news and notes
Sports writers and fans predicted that Super Bowl IX would be a low scoring game because of each team's defenses. The Steelers' "Steel Curtain" had lead the AFC in fewest points allowed (189) and the Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" had only given up 195.
The game was originally scheduled for the
Louisiana Superdome. But since construction on the dome was not yet finished, the game had to be moved to Tulane Stadium. This proved to be quite pivotal, because the temperature was cold and the field was slick from overnight rain. [ [http://www.steelergridiron.com/history/historyof9.html Super Bowl IX history] ] This would be the last Super Bowl to be played in inclement weather until Super Bowl XLI.
The last minute change of venue was not only the last of three Super Bowls played at Tulane Stadium, but the last game ever played in the stadium, which was demolished five years later and replaced for the
1975 NFL seasonby the Louisiana Superdome, which has hosted every Super Bowl held in New Orleans since.
Television and entertainment
The game was broadcast in the
United Statesby NBCwith play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdyand color commentators Al DeRogatisand Don Meredith.
Grambling State UniversityBand performed during both the pregame festivities and the national anthem. During the national anthem, they were backed by a Mardi Gras choir, The halftime show was a tribute to American jazz composer, pianistand bandleader Duke Ellington, also featuring the Grambling State University Band along with Ellington's son Mercer. Ellington died the previous May.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on CBSused this game as a plotline on the episode aired the night before the game. Lou Grantwas teaching Ted Baxterhow to bet on football games, and used Ted's money, as well as some of his own to bet on the Vikings winning the Super Bowl. The Vikings won the Super Bowl in this episode but Ted's hopes were dashed when it was revealed that Lou actually bet all the money on the Steelers. At the end of the show, Mary Tyler Mooreannounced the following over the credits: "If the Pittsburgh Steelerswin the actual Super Bowl tomorrow, we want to apologize to the Pittsburgh team and their fans for this purely fictional story. If on the other hand, they lose, remember, you heard it here first.". And, as it turned out, her apology did go into effect.
As many predicted, the game was low scoring; both teams failed to score a touchdown or a field goal until the third quarter and ended up with the second lowest total of combined points in Super Bowl history.
The first quarter of the game was completely dominated by both teams defense. The Vikings were limited to 20 passing yards, 0 rushing yards, and one first down. The Steelers did slightly better with 18 passing yards, 61 rushing yards, and 4 first downs. Pittsburgh even managed to get close enough for their kicker
Roy Gerelato attempt 2 field goals. But Gerela missed his first attempt, and a bad snap prevented the second one from even being kicked.
In the second quarter, the Vikings got an opportunity to score when they recovered a fumble from fullback
Rocky Bleierat the Steelers 24-yard line. But they could only move the ball two yards in their next three plays, and then Vikings kicker Fred Coxmissed a 39-yard field goal attempt. The first score of the game occurred later in the period, when fullback Dave Osbornfumbled a pitch from Tarkenton in Minnesota's own end zone. Tarkenton quickly dove on the ball to prevent a Steeler touchdown, but he was downed by Dwight Whitefor a safety, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. The Vikings later threatened to score when Tarkenton led them on a 55-yard drive to the Steelers 20-yard line. With 1:17 left in the half, Tarkenton threw a pass to receiver John Gilliamat the 5-yard line, but Steelers safety Glen Edwards hit him just as he caught the ball. The ball popped out of his hands and right into the arms of Mel Blountfor an interception.
The half ended with the Steelers leading 2-0, the lowest halftime score in Super Bowl history.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Minnesota's Bill Brown lost a fumble, and the Steelers recovered the ball at the Vikings 30-yard line. Then,
Franco Harrismoved the ball to the 6-yard line with a 24-yard run. Harris was then tackled for a 3-yard loss on the next play, but then made up for it with a 9-yard touchdown run after that, giving the Steelers a 9-0 lead.
After an exchange of punts, Minnesota got the ball back on their own 20-yard line. On the second play of drive, Tarkenton's pass was deflected behind the line of scrimmage by Pittsburgh defensive lineman
L.C. Greenwood, and bounced back right into the arms of Tarkenton, who then threw 41-yard completion to Gilliam. However, officials ruled Tarkenton's first pass attempt was a completion to himself, and thus his second attempt was an illegal forward pass. The penalty brought up third down and 11 yards to go, but Minnesota got the first down with running back Chuck Foreman's 12-yard run. Three plays later, Tarkenton completed a 28-yard pass to tight end Stu Voigtat the Steelers 45-yard line. However, White deflected Tarkenton's next pass attempt and Greene intercepted the ball, ending the Vikings' scoring opportunity.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings got another scoring opportunity when Minnesota safety Paul Krause recovered a fumble from Harris on the Steelers 47-yard line. On the next play, a 42-yard pass interference penalty on Pittsburgh defensive back
Mike Wagnermoved the ball up to the 5-yard line. But once again the Steelers stopped them from scoring when Greene forced and recovered a fumble from Foreman. However, Pittsburgh failed to get a first down on their next possession and was forced to punt from deep in their own territory. Minnesota defender Matt Blairburst through the line to block the punt, and Terry Brownrecovered the ball in the end zone for touchdown. Cox missed the extra point, but the Vikings had cut their deficit to 9-6 and were just a field goal away from a tie.
But on the ensuing drive, the Steelers put the game out of reach with a 66 yard, 11 play scoring drive that took 6:47 off the clock and featured three successful third down conversions. The first was a key 30-yard pass completion from
Terry Bradshawto tight end Larry Brown. Brown fumbled the ball as he was being tackled, and two officials initially ruled the ball recovered for the Vikings, but head linesman Ed Marion overuled them, stating that Brown was down by contact before the ball came out of his hands. Another third down pass to Bleier advanced the ball to the Vikings 5-yard line. The Steelers gained just one yard with their next two plays, but on third down Bradshaw's 4-yard touchdown pass to Brown gave the Steelers a 16-6 lead with only 3:31 left on the clock.
Vikings running back
Brent McClanahanreturned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the 39-yard line, but on the first play of the drive, Tarkenton's pass was intercepted by Wagner. The Steelers then executed 7 consecutive running plays, taking the game clock all the way down to 38 seconds before turning the ball over on downs.
Harris finished the game with 34 carries for a Super Bowl record 158 yards and a touchdown. Bleier had 65 rushing yards, and two receptions for 11 yards. Bradshaw completed nine out of 14 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. Foreman was the Viking's top offensive contributor, finishing the game as the team's leading rusher and receiver with 18 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards.
*PIT - Safety: Dwight White tackled Fran Tarkenton in end zone 2-0 PIT
*PIT - TD: Franco Harris 9 yard run (Roy Gerela kick) 9-0 PIT
*MIN - TD: Terry Brown recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed) 9-6 PIT
*PIT - TD: Larry Brown 4 yard pass from Terry Bradshaw (Roy Gerela kick) 16-6 PIT
*Head Linesman: Ed Marion
*Line Judge: Bruce Alford
*Field Judge: Richard Dolack
*Back Judge: Raymond Douglas
"Note: A seven-official system was not used until 1978"
*46 degrees, cloudy
1974 NFL season
1974 Pittsburgh Steelers season
1974 Minnesota Vikings season
NFL playoffs, 1974-75
* [http://www.superbowl.com/ Super Bowl official website]
*cite book | title=2006 NFL Record and Fact Book | publisher=Time Inc. Home Entertainment | id=ISBN 1-933405-32-5
*cite book | title=Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League | publisher=
Harper Collins| id=ISBN 1-933405-32-5
*cite book | title=The Official NFL Encyclopedia Pro Football | publisher=NAL Books | id=ISBN 0-453-00431-8
*cite book | title=The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995 | id=ISBN 0-89204-523-X
* http://www.pro-football-reference.com - Large online database of NFL data and statistics
* [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/super/superbowl-plays.htm Super Bowl play-by-plays] from
USA Today(Last accessed September 28, 2005)
* [http://www.sportsnetwork.com/default.asp?c=sportsnetwork&page=nfl/superbowl/2005/superbowl-alltime-odds.htm All-Time Super Bowl Odds] from The Sports Network (Last accessed October 16, 2005)
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