Super Bowl XI
|Super Bowl XI|
|Date||January 9, 1977|
Rose Bowl, |
|MVP||Fred Biletnikoff, Wide Receiver|
|Favorite||Raiders by 4|
|Future Hall of Famers|
Raiders: John Madden (coach), Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Dave Casper, Ray Guy, Ted Hendricks, Art Shell, Gene Upshaw. |
Vikings: Bud Grant (coach), Carl Eller, Paul Krause, Alan Page, Fran Tarkenton, Mick Tinglehoff, Ron Yary.
|National anthem||None (Vikki Carr sang "America the Beautiful")|
|Coin toss||Jim Tunney|
|Halftime show||Disney presents "It's A Small World" with the Los Angeles Unified All-City Band|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Curt Gowdy and Don Meredith|
(est. 62 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||US$125,000|
Super Bowl XI was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Oakland Raiders and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Minnesota Vikings to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1976 season. The Raiders defeated the Vikings by the score of 32–14 to win their first Super Bowl. The game was played on January 9, 1977, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. This is, and remains, the earliest scheduled Super Bowl during the calendar year. It was the first game since Super Bowl V to feature two teams that had not played the year before.
This was the Raiders' second Super Bowl appearance after losing Super Bowl II. They posted a 13–1 regular season record before defeating the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. The Vikings were making their fourth Super Bowl appearance, and seeking their first Super Bowl title, after posting an 11–2–1 regular season record and playoff victories over the Washington Redskins and the Los Angeles Rams.
Oakland gained a Super Bowl record 429 yards, including a Super Bowl record 288 yards in the first half, en route to winning Super Bowl XI. After a scoreless first quarter, Oakland scored on three consecutive possessions to take a 16–0 lead at halftime. The Raiders also had two fourth quarter interceptions, including cornerback Willie Brown's 75-yard return for a touchdown. Oakland wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, who had 4 catches for 79 yards that set up three Raider touchdowns, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player. Among the wide receivers who have won the Super Bowl MVP, Biletnikoff is the only one to not have gained 100 yards in his performance.
The NFL awarded Super Bowl XI to Pasadena, California on March 19, 1975 at the owners meetings held in Honolulu. 
This game marked the second Super Bowl appearance for the Oakland Raiders, who lost Super Bowl II. Two years after their Super Bowl loss, the Raiders hired John Madden as their head coach. Under Madden, the Raiders had posted in his 8 seasons an 83–22–7 record (counting ties, this was a .772 winning percentage, second for any NFL team behind only the Vikings' .781). But Super Bowl XI was the first time Madden led his team to a league championship game. They had been eliminated in all 6 of their previous playoff appearances, including 5 losses in the AFC Championship Game.
The Raiders offense was led by quarterback Ken Stabler, who finished as the top rated passer in the AFC, passing for 2,737 yards and 27 touchdowns. His 66.7 completion percentage (194 completions out of 291 attempts) was the second highest in the league. Stabler's main passing weapon was wide receiver Cliff Branch, who caught 46 passes for 1,111 yards (24.2 yards per catch average) and 12 touchdowns. Fred Biletnikoff was also a reliable deep threat, with 43 receptions for 551 yards and 7 touchdowns. And tight end Dave Casper recorded 53 receptions for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In addition to their great passing attack the Raiders also had a powerful running game, led by fullback Mark van Eeghen (1,012 rushing yards, 17 receptions) and halfback Clarence Davis (516 rushing yards, 27 receptions). Another reason for the Raiders' success on offense was their offensive line, led by left tackle Art Shell and left guard Gene Upshaw, as well as perennial All-Pro center Dave Dalby.
Injuries early in the season forced the Raiders to switch from a 4–3 to a 3–4 defense. The switch benefited the team, as they won their last 10 games and finished the regular season with the best record in the league, 13–1. The Raiders' defense was anchored by great linebackers, such as Phil Villapiano and Ted Hendricks, while defensive end Otis Sistrunk anchored the defensive line. Their defensive secondary was extremely hard-hitting and talented, led by safeties Jack Tatum and George Atkinson, and cornerbacks Skip Thomas and Willie Brown.
Many accused the Raiders defense of being overly aggressive, especially Atkinson, who inflicted a severe concussion on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann in the previous season's AFC Championship Game. Atkinson added to that reputation as the Raiders advanced through the playoffs to Super Bowl XI. In the Raiders' 24–21 playoff win over the New England Patriots, Atkinson broke the nose of Patriots tight end Russ Francis. Then Atkinson inflicted another concussion to Swann in the Raiders' 24–7 AFC Championship victory over the Steelers. In reaction, Pittsburgh head coach Chuck Noll complained of a "criminal element" in Atkinson's play. Atkinson himself denied deliberately trying to injure anyone and pointed out that at 6'0" and 185 pounds, he was one of the smallest players on the field. The Raiders and their fans were often known to counter these accusations against Atkinson and Jack Tatum by pointing out the physical way that Pittsburgh cornerback Mel Blount covered Oakland's speedy split end Cliff Branch.
The Vikings, coached by Bud Grant, won the NFC Central for the eighth time in the last nine seasons with an 11–2–1 record, and advanced to their fourth Super Bowl in eight years. They were the only team who had lost three Super Bowls (they had previously lost Super Bowls IV, VIII and IX), and did not want to be the first one to lose four. They were the first team to appear in a fourth Super Bowl.
Once again, the Vikings had a powerful offense led by 37-year old quarterback Fran Tarkenton and running back Chuck Foreman. Playing in his 16th NFL season, Tarkenton was already the league's all-time leader in pass completions (3,186), passing yards (41,802), and touchdown passes (308). He had another fine season in 1976, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,961 yards, 17 touchdowns, and only 8 interceptions. Foreman had the best season of his career, rushing for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also catching 55 passes for 567 yards and another touchdown. Fullback Brent McClanahan also contributed 634 combined rushing and receiving yards. The Vikings also added two new weapons to their offense: veteran wide receiver Ahmad Rashad and rookie wide receiver Sammy White combined for 104 receptions, 1,577 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns. And once again, tackle Ron Yary anchored the offensive line.
The Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" defense, anchored by Carl Eller and Alan Page, were also dominating teams again. During this regular season, they led the NFC in fewest points allowed (176). Also, defensive back Nate Wright led the team with 7 interceptions for 47 yards, while safety Paul Krause had 2 interceptions for 21 yards.
For more details on this topic, see NFL playoffs, 1976-77.
The Vikings went on to dominate the Washington Redskins, 35–20, and defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 24–13, in the playoffs. 10 of the Vikings' points in the NFC Championship Game came from blocked kicks.
The Raiders defeated the New England Patriots, 24–21, with the aid of a penalty call against the Patriots. New England's Ray Hamilton was tagged for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter, a call which extended Oakland's drive. Oakland went on to defeat the previous season's Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers 24-7; the Steelers were missing their starting running back tandem of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.
This was the first Super Bowl game to match both conference's #1 seeds, and was the last Super Bowl (and first one held in the Rose Bowl) to finish under daylight. It was the last Super Bowl where both team's placekickers (Minnesota's Fred Cox and Oakland's Errol Mann) used the straight-on style. Scheduled on the 9th day of January, the game marks the earliest Super Bowl played during the calendar year. The regular season started one week earlier than usual in order to avoid having playoff games on Christmas Day, which fell on a Saturday in 1976. By moving the season up, the divisional playoffs were held December 18–19, and the conference championship games Sunday, December 26.
Television and entertainment
The game was televised in the United States by NBC with play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdy and color commentator Don Meredith. This was Meredith's last broadcast with NBC, as he returned to ABC to rejoin the Monday Night Football crew for the 1977 season, where he had been a commentator from 1970–73. Bryant Gumbel and Lee Leonard with analyst John Brodie anchored NBC's pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.
The pregame festivities featured the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) All-City Band and frisbee dog Ashley Whippet. Later, singer Vikki Carr sang "America the Beautiful". There was no national anthem played before coin toss. This was the first time that "America the Beautiful" was played at a Super Bowl.
The halftime show was produced by Disney and was based on It's a Small World, an attraction at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. The show featured the cast members of the New Mickey Mouse Club. It was the first Super Bowl halftime show to include crowd participation as people in the stadium waved colored placards on cue. The LAUSD All-City Band also played during the show.
The Raiders took the opening kickoff and advanced all the way to the Vikings' 12-yard line, but came up empty after kicker Errol Mann hit the left upright on his 29-yard field goal attempt. Later in the period after the teams exchanged punts, the Vikings had a great opportunity to score when linebacker Fred McNeill blocked a punt from punter Ray Guy and recovered it on the Raiders' 3-yard line. The Vikings' special teams unit was known for blocking kicks, but this was the first time it had happened to Ray Guy. (Guy would have only three of his punts blocked in his 14-year NFL career.) However, two plays later Minnesota running back Brent McClanahan fumbled the ball while being tackled by Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano and linebacker Willie Hall recovered the ball for Oakland. The Raiders then marched 90 yards to the Vikings' 7-yard line, with a 35-yard run by Clarence Davis around left end from the Oakland 6-yard line breaking through Minnesota's front. On the drive's sixth play, quarterback Ken Stabler completed a 25-yard pass to Dave Casper, with the tight end breaking through what Stabler called “10 tackles.” Oakland, however, had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Mann, giving them a 3–0 lead 48 seconds into the second quarter.
After forcing Minnesota to punt following three plays and out, Oakland did even better the next time it got the ball. Stabler completed a 19-yard pass to Casper to reach the Vikings' 26. Running back Carl Garrett carried on three consecutive plays and gained 20 yards, then Stabler hit receiver Fred Biletnikoff along the right sideline for five yards to the 1-yard line. The 64-yard drive in 10 plays then concluded on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Stabler to Casper, increasing the Raiders' lead to 10–0. On the Vikings' next possession, running back Chuck Foreman gained 7 yards on 1st down and 6 on 2nd down, but a holding penalty on Ron Yary made it 2nd and 13. Quarterback Fran Tarkenton threw incomplete to rookie receiver Sammy White, then a long pass to Ahmad Rashad was broken up by defensive back Willie Brown, resulting in another three downs and out. Oakland got the ball back in excellent field position after returner Neal Colzie returned Minnesota's punt 25 yards to the Vikings' 35-yard line. After 3 running plays, Stabler completed a 17-yard pass to Biletnikoff at the 1-yard line, and running back Pete Banaszak scored a touchdown on the next play, increasing Oakland's lead to 16–0 with 3:33 left in the 2nd quarter after Mann missed the extra point attempt. To this point, Minnesota had picked up only one first down. The score at halftime marked the fourth time in as many Super Bowls that the Vikings failed to score in the first half.
The second half began with 3 consecutive punts, but then Colzie returned the Vikings' second punt of the period 12 yards to the Oakland 46-yard line. From there, the Raiders advanced to the Minnesota 23-yard line, aided by an 18-yard run by Davis and a 10-yard reception by wide receiver Cliff Branch, to set up Mann's 40-yard field goal to increase their lead to 19–0.
Tarkenton then threw 3 consecutive incomplete passes on their ensuing drive, forcing the Vikings to punt again. However, Oakland linebacker Ted Hendricks was penalized for running into the punter on the play, giving Minnesota a first down. Taking advantage of their second chance, the Vikings ended up with a 12-play, 68-yard drive as Tarkenton completed passes to Stu Voigt, Ahmad Rashad and Chuck Foreman for gains of 15, 21, and 10 yards. On the last play, Tarkenton threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Sammy White, making the score 19-7.
The Raiders were forced to punt on their next drive after they were unable to recover from Alan Page's 11-yard sack on first down. Then aided by Tarkenton's completions to White for gains of 14 and 18 yards, respectively, the Vikings advanced to the Oakland 37-yard line. But on third down and 3 to go, Hall intercepted a pass from Tarkenton and returned it 16 yards to the 46-yard line. Three plays later, Biletnikoff's 48-yard reception moved the ball to the Vikings' 2-yard line, setting up Banaszak's second rushing touchdown to increase Oakland's lead to 26–7. All three Raiders offensive touchdowns had been preceded on the previous play by key Biletnikoff receptions.
White returned the ensuing kickoff 19 yards to the Minnesota 32-yard line, and four plays later, Tarkenton completed a 25-yard pass to receiver Rashad to reach the Oakland 28-yard line. But on the next play, defensive back Willie Brown intercepted a pass intended for White and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Although Mann missed the extra point attempt, the Raiders put the game out of reach, 32–7.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs, Minnesota drove 86 yards in 9 plays to score on a 14-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Bob Lee to Voigt. The touchdown cut Minnesota's deficit to 32–14, but by then there was only :25 left in the game.
Stabler finished the game with 12 out of 19 pass completions for 180 yards and a touchdown. Davis, who was the top rusher in the game, gained 137 yards on just 16 rush attempts, an average of 8.5 yards per carry. Eleven of his carries were runs to the left side, which is where the blocking of guard Gene Upshaw, tackle Art Shell and Casper dominated defensive end Jim Marshall and linebacker Wally Hilgenberg. Marshall made no tackles in the game and Hilgenberg had only two. Casper finished the game with 4 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Colzie returned 4 punts for a Super Bowl record 43 yards. Foreman had a solid performance for Minnesota, contributing 44 rushing yards and 62 receiving yards. Tarkenton had 17 out of 35 pass completions for 205 yards, a touchdown, and 2 interceptions. White recorded 163 total yards, catching 5 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, rushing once for 7 yards, and returning 4 kickoffs for 79 yards. The Raiders won their first Super Bowl and according to Brown, winning Super Bowl XI “made up for the other Raiders who came before and didn’t have a chance to participate on a winning Super Bowl team. This victory meant not only a lot to me, it meant a lot to the entire Raider organization.”
The Vikings finished with a dismal 0-4 Super Bowl record under Bud Grant, even though in the same 8-year span their regular season record was 87-24-1 (more wins than any other NFL team in that span). Grant coached Minnesota eight more seasons, but never managed to guide the team back to a Super Bowl. The team never led in any of the games, so onlookers never saw what the Vikings might do with a Super Bowl lead. Minnesota also never scored any points in the first half. Turnovers robbed the club from a score on three occasions, one in this game; two of the opportunities were to take a lead. The Vikings committed a total of 15 turnovers and forced only 3. In their appearances they averaged only 56.75 yards rushing while the "Purple People Eaters" yielded a huge 215.5 yards average. Minnesota also had just a 49.3 team passer rating to opponents' 105.2. Tarkenton in three appearances completed 46 of 89 passes just for 489 yards, one touchdown, six interceptions and a 43.7 rating. Previously against the Vikings, Kansas City's Len Dawson went 12/17 for 142 yards with an interception and had a 90.8 rating in Super Bowl IV, Miami's Bob Griese went 6/7 for 83 yards and a 110.1 rating in Super Bowl VIII, and Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw was 9/14 for 90 yards and a 108.0 rating in Super Bowl IX. In this game Stabler went 12/19 for 180 yards and had a 111.7 passer rating. The Purple People Eaters were dominated in their final Super Bowl appearance as Oakland set S.B. records of 266 yards rushing and 429 yards total offense.
Source: NFL.com Super Bowl XI
Note: A seven-official system was not used until 1978