Western Conference Championship
@Metropolitan Stadium Bloomington Minnesota
Game time: 1:00 p.m. CST
Game attendance: 47,900
Referee: Pat Haggerty
TV coverage: CBS
The 11-3 Rams and the 11-3 Vikings met for the Western Conference Championship Sunday. The teams had met in the regular season as well with the Vikings winning the meeting out on the west coast 20-13. The Rams already at a disadvantage on the road as the visiting team were hoping the weather would not be another factor they would have to contend with. Fortunately, the weather would be unusually mild for December, but the Rams would still have to contend with a formidable opponent.
The Vikings would receive the opening kick off to begin the game. The Rams defense had heard all week about the Purple people eaters and we're out to show that there defense was no slouch either. The Vikings would be faced with a 3rd & 10 on there first drive, when David “Deacon” Jones would strip sack Joe Kapp and Diron Talbert would scoop it up and run it in for a Rams score and a 7-0 lead. The Vikings next drive would be derailed again by the Rams defense when they would stop Vikings running back Dave Osborn on a 3rd &1. The Rams would get the ball back, but this time the purple people eaters would strike. Linebacker Lonnie Warrick would force Les Josephson to fumble. Warrick would recover himself and return all the way to the Rams 2 yard line. Fullback Bill Brown would plow it in from there and make it 7 all. On the Rams next possession, Bruce Gossett would kick them back into a 10-7 lead with a 16 yard field goal. The Vikings would get some help from the Rams defense on there following possession. Faced with a 3rd & 7 they would attempt the draw play to Osborne but the Rams would sniff it out and stop him short. A personal foul penalty on Talbert would give the Vikings a new set of downs and a few plays later, Joe Kapp would hit speedy receiver Gene Washington for a 36 yard touchdown pass and 14-10 lead at the end if the first.
In the second, the Vikings defense would stuff the Rams on a 3rd & 1 and force a punt. Kapp would find Washington again for a big gain of 58 yards. Washington would only catch 3 passes on the day, but they would count for 139 yards and a touchdown. Osborne would run it in from 6 yards out and the Vikings were in control 21-10. Roman Gabriel and the Rams would put together a nice drive to let the Vikings know they weren't going anywhere and Larry Smith would punch it in from 2, to close within 4. The Rams celebration would short lived when Vikings return man Clinton Jones raced 83 yards with the kick off and put Minnesota back on top at the half 28-17.
A motivational speech by Rams head coach George Allen at the half fired up the team and the Vikings and there fans were quieted when Ron “Trousers” Smith took the second half kick back 88 yards for a score and pull the Rams back within 4, 24-28. The Vikings would struggle in the 3rd, and Deacon Jones would get to Kapp again and force another fumble but the Vikings would recover. Jones would sack Kapp 4 times on the day. After a Vikings punt the Rams would drive into Vikings territory on a 49 yard pass from Gabriel to Tucker. The Vikings defense would stiffen and the Rams would settle for another Gossett field goal and be within 1 point at the end of the 3rd 27-28.
The Vikings drive in the 4th would end when running back Oscar Reed would fumble the ball and Rams linebacker Jack Pardee would recover. Gabriel and the Rams had a nice drive going and seemingly looked like they were heading for a score to take the lead but Lonnie Warrick would force another fumnle and Paul Krause would recover.
Vikings GM Jim Finks and head coach Bud Grant had
collaborated to assemble a championship squad and they would go right to work. Osborne would rush for 20 yards and then Kapp would find tight end John Henderson for another 18. With the Vikings clinging to the 1 point lead there would be sighs of relief on the drive as twice again Deacon Jones would sack and cause Kapp to fumble both times. Fortunately, Osborne would recover the first and lineman Matt Sunde would gather in the other. Unfortunate for the Rams however as Kapp would find Washington again for another big gain. 49 yards this time to the Rams 5 yard line. Brown would rumble in again and give the Vikes some breathing room 35-27.
Forced to hurry, Gabriel and the Rams would begin to ride his strong arm and legs. Gabriel would rumble for 20 yards and a first, but then be pressured by Alan Page into to a hurried throw that would be intercepted by Earsell Mackbee. With a short field ol’ indestructible would move the Vikings into range for a Fred Cox field goal and a 38-27 that would end up being the final. The Western Conference Champion Vikings wait to see who they will face from the Eastern Conference for the NFL
Los Angeles 10 7 10 0 - 27
Minnesota 14 14 0 10 - 38
LA - Talbert 6 yd fumble return, Gossett kick (7-0)
MINN - Brown 2 yd run, Cox kick (7-7)
LA - Gossett 16 yd fg (10-7)
MINN - Osborn 6 yd run, Cox kick (21-10)
LA - Smith 2 yd run, Gossett kick (17-21)
MINN - Jones 93 yd kick return, Cox kick (28-17)
LA - Smith 88 yd kick return, Gossett kick (24-28)
LA - Gossett 6 yd fg (27-28)
MINN - Brown 5 yd run, Cox kick (35-27)
MINN - Cox 21 yd fg (38-27)
First Downs:MINN-15 LA-14
Penalty: MINN-2 LA-0
Total net yards:MINN-357 LA-325
Avg.per play:MINN-6.1 LA-5.3
Total plays:MINN-59 LA-61
Rushing yards:MINN-157 LA-125
Avg.per rush:MINN-4.1 LA-4.5
Total rushes:MINN-39 LA-28
Net yd passing:MINN-200 LA-200
Avg.per att:MINN-10.0 LA-6.1
Sack/yds lost:MINN-3/21 LA-⅙
Gross yards: MINN-221 LA-206
Comp. Pct.:MINN-45.0 LA-42.4
Had intercepted:MINN-0 LA-1
T.O.P. MINN: 29:30 LA: 30:30
MINN: Kapp 9-20-221-1-0.
LA: Gabriel 14-33-206-0-1.
MINN:Brown 15-52-2-0, Osborn 20-88-1-0, Reed 4-17-0-1.
LA: Gabriel 3-34-0-0, Josephson 9-47-0-1, Smith 16-44-1-1.
MINN: Beasley 2-20-0-0, Brown 1-4-0-0, Grimm 1-15-0-0, Henderson 1-18-0-0, Osborn 1-16-0-0, Washington 3-139-2-0
LA: Smith 4-16-0-2, Snow 3-41-0-0, Truax 5-124-0-0, Tucker 2-25-0-0.
MINN: Cox 1-2 long 21 (missed 37), xp 5-5.
LA: Gossett 2-3 long 16 (missed 36) xp 3-3.
MINN: Lee 5-163 (net 127)
LA: Studstill 3-119 (net 93)
MINN: Jones 4-148-1-0.
LA: Smith 5-152-1-0.
MINN: West 2-26-0-0.
LA: Haymond 3-36-0-0.
MINN: Eller, Marshall.
LA: Jones 4.
MINN: Mackbee 1-5-0-0.