1976 Minnesota Vikings Season
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1976 Minnesota Vikings Season
1976 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coachBud Grant
General managerMike Lynn
OwnerMax Winter
Home fieldMetropolitan Stadium
Results
Record11-2-1
Division place1st NFC Central
Playoff finishWon NFC Divisional Playoff (Redskins) 35-20
Won NFC Championship Game (Rams) 24-13
Lost Super Bowl XI (vs. Raiders) 14-32

The 1976 season was the Minnesota Vikings' 16th in the National Football League. The Vikings finished with an 11-2-1 record to give them their eighth NFC Central division title. They beat the Washington Redskins 35-20 in the divisional round of the playoffs, followed by a 24-13 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship, before losing 32-14 to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI. As of 2018, this was the last Super Bowl appearance by the franchise.

Offseason

1976 Draft

1976 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Overall
1 25 James White Defensive tackle Oklahoma State
2 54 Sammy White Wide receiver Grambling State
3 85 Wes Hamilton Guard Tulsa
4 118 Leonard Willis Wide receiver Ohio State
5 133 Steve Wagner Defensive back Wisconsin from Falcons[a]
149 Keith Bernette Running back Boston College
6 180 Terry Egerdahl Defensive back Minnesota Duluth
7 206 Larry Brune Defensive back Rice
8 235 Traded to the New England Patriots[b]
9 262 Isaac Hagins Wide receiver Southern
10 289 Bill Salmon Quarterback Northern Iowa
11 316 Steve Kracher Running back Montana State
12 345 Robert Sparks Defensive back San Francisco State
13 372 Gary Paulson Defensive end Colorado State
14 401 Jeff Stapleton Offensive tackle Purdue
15 428 Ron Groce Running back Macalester
16 457 Randy Hickel Defensive back Montana State
17 484 Dick Lukowski Defensive tackle West Virginia
^[a] The Vikings traded running back Oscar Reed to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for Atlanta's fifth-round selection (133rd overall).
^[b] The Vikings traded their eighth-round selection (235th overall) and 1977 sixth-round selection (166th overall) to the New England Patriots in exchange for offensive lineman Doug Dumler.

Personnel

Staff

[1]

Roster

Preseason

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance[2]
1 July 31 at Miami Dolphins L 3-16 0-1 Miami Orange Bowl 39,939
2 August 7 at Kansas City Chiefs W 13-10 1-1 Arrowhead Stadium 32,851
3 August 16 at Cleveland Browns L 7-31 1-2 Cleveland Stadium 44,336
4 August 22 Cincinnati Bengals W 23-17 2-2 Metropolitan Stadium 43,784
5 August 28 Philadelphia Eagles W 20-16 3-2 Metropolitan Stadium 46,512
6 September 5 at Denver Broncos L 17-30 3-3 Mile High Stadium 52,129

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 12 at New Orleans Saints W 40-9 1-0 Louisiana Superdome 58,156
2 September 19 Los Angeles Rams T 10-10 (OT) 1-0-1 Metropolitan Stadium 47,310
3 September 26 at Detroit Lions W 10-9 2-0-1 Silverdome 77,292
4 October 4 Pittsburgh Steelers W 17-6 3-0-1 Metropolitan Stadium 47,809
5 October 10 Chicago Bears W 20-19 4-0-1 Metropolitan Stadium 47,614
6 October 17 New York Giants W 24-7 5-0-1 Metropolitan Stadium 46,508
7 October 24 at Philadelphia Eagles W 31-12 6-0-1 Veterans Stadium 56,233
8 October 31 at Chicago Bears L 13-14 6-1-1 Soldier Field 53,602
9 November 7 Detroit Lions W 31-23 7-1-1 Metropolitan Stadium 46,735
10 November 14 Seattle Seahawks W 27-21 8-1-1 Metropolitan Stadium 45,087
11 November 21 at Green Bay Packers W 17-10 9-1-1 Milwaukee County Stadium 53,104
12 November 29 at San Francisco 49ers L 16-20 9-2-1 Candlestick Park 56,775
13 December 5 Green Bay Packers W 20-9 10-2-1 Metropolitan Stadium 43,700
14 December 11 at Miami Dolphins W 29-7 11-2-1 Orange Bowl 46,543

Game summaries

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Standings

NFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Minnesota Vikings(1) 11 2 1 .821 5-1 9-2 305 176 W2
Chicago Bears 7 7 0 .500 4-2 7-5 253 216 L1
Detroit Lions 6 8 0 .429 2-4 5-7 262 220 L2
Green Bay Packers 5 9 0 .357 1-5 4-8 218 299 W1

Postseason

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
Divisional December 18 Washington Redskins W 35-20 Metropolitan Stadium 47,221
NFC Championship December 26 Los Angeles Rams W 24-13 Metropolitan Stadium 47,191
Super Bowl XI January 9 Oakland Raiders L 14-32 Rose Bowl 100,421

Game summaries

NFC Divisional Playoffs: vs. (#4) Washington Redskins

The Vikings jumped to a 35-6 lead by the end of the third quarter, led by running backs Chuck Foreman and Brent McClanahan who each rushed for more than 100 yards.

McClanahan's career-long 41-yard run on Minnesota's first play of the game set up quarterback Fran Tarkenton's 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Stu Voigt. Washington defensive back Eddie Brown gave his team some early scoring opportunities with big special teams plays, first returning the kickoff 26 yards to the 38-yard line, and later returning a punt 17 yards to the Vikings 45. But the team was unable to capitalize. All they could do after the kickoff return was go three-and-out, and on the first play after his big punt return, Billy Kilmer threw a pass that was intercepted by Bobby Bryant. Now momentum seemed slipping away, but on the first play after Bryant's pick, Washington took the ball right back with an interception by safety Jake Scott, who returned it 17 yards to the Minnesota 34-yard line. Three plays later, Mark Moseley kicked a 47-yard field goal that cut the Washington deficit to 7-3. Later in the quarter, Minnesota drove 66 yards and scored when Tarkenton threw a 27-yard pass to Sammy White. Safety Ken Houston deflected the ball, but it still bounced to White, who made a diving, juggling catch for a touchdown to put the Vikings up 14-3. By the end of the first quarter, the Vikings had gained 143 yards, while holding Washington to 18 yards and no first downs.

The situation only got worse for Washington in the second quarter. A promising drive for them into Vikings territory ended with no points when Moseley missed a 51-yard field goal attempt. Minnesota then drove 66 yards, featuring a 35-yard completion from Tarkenton to Ahmad Rashad, to score on Foreman's 2-yard touchdown run, putting them up 21-3. The Redskins next drive ended with an interception by Vikings defensive back Nate Wright. On the next play, Houston intercepted the ball from Tarkenton and returned it 8 yards to the Vikings 38. But Washington was unable to move the ball and had to punt. In the final seconds of the half, Washington had a chance for a touchdown with a deep throw from Kilmer to receiver Frank Grant. Grant had broken open in the end zone, but was unable to make the catch and the pass fell incomplete.

Washington had to punt on the first drive of the second half, and Leonard Willis returned it 10 yards to the Vikings 48, where Minnesota proceeded to drive to a 28-3 lead on a 30-yard touchdown burst by Foreman. This time the Redskins were able to respond, converting a 20-yard catch by tight end Jean Fugett, a 20-yard run by Mike Thomas, and a 10-yard reception by fullback John Riggins into a 35-yard Moseley field goal, making the score 28-6. But after this, the Vikings drove 77 yards and scored on a 9-yard pass from Tarkenton to White. By the time Kilmer completed two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, the game was already out of reach.

NFC Championship: vs. (#3) Los Angeles Rams

The Vikings forced a blocked field goal, a blocked punt, and two interceptions en route to the victory over the Rams. On offense, running back Chuck Foreman rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries while also catching 5 passes for 81 yards.

In the first quarter, the Rams got off to a good start as they marched down the field to the Viking 2-yard line. The drive stalled there, and coach Chuck Knox, recalling the NFC championship game in Minnesota two years ago (when the Rams were intercepted in the end zone after driving to the Viking 2-yard line) ordered a field goal attempt. Nate Allen blocked the field goal attempt, and the ball bounced off the ground right into the waiting arms of Bobby Bryant, who returned it 90 yards for a Minnesota touchdown. The first quarter ended with the Rams dominating the stat sheet. They had run 22 plays for 89 yards and 7 first downs, while holding the Vikings to 5 plays, one first down, and 17 yards, but they still trailed 7-0.

In the second quarter, linebacker Matt Blair blocked and recovered a punt on the Rams 10-yard line to set up Fred Cox's 25-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 10-0 lead before halftime. Then in the third period, Foreman rushed 62 yards to the Los Angeles 2-yard line, and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run two plays later to increase the lead 17-0.

The Rams rallied back with two quick touchdowns in the third quarter. After a chance to put the game away was wiped out by Monte Jackson's interception of a Tarkenton pass in the end zone, Pat Haden led the Rams on an 80-yard drive highlighted by a 40-yard pass to Harold Jackson, and culminating in a 10-yard touchdown run by Lawrence McCutcheon. Rams kicker Tom Dempsey missed the extra point. Dempsey had missed nine extra points during the season. Announcers Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier speculated that Haden was feeling pressure on this drive because Knox had James Harris warming up on the sidelines. On the Vikings' next drive, Fred Dryer hit Fran Tarkenton on a sack, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Jack Youngblood at the Viking 8-yard line. Three plays later, Haden hit Jackson for a 5-yard touchdown pass.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Vikings defense snuffed out two big chances for LA to take the lead. With 7 minutes left, the Rams drove to a third down on the Vikings 33, but Minnesota linebacker Wally Hilgenberg sacked Haden and forced a punt. With 2:40 left in the game, Los Angeles advanced to the Minnesota 39-yard line. On fourth down and needing more than a field goal, Haden thought he had Jackson open deep near the goal line, but Bryant intercepted the pass (his second of the game) rather than batting it down. A few plays later, Tarkenton dumped a short pass off to Foreman, which he turned into a 57-yard gain. Foreman was injured on the play, but backup running back Sammy Johnson scored the clinching touchdown from 12 yards out.

This turned out to be the last playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium. The Vikings played four playoff games between 1977 and 1981, all on the road. Minnesota's next home playoff game came after the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Vikings' first in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. They would next host an outdoor home playoff game in January 2016.

To date, this is the most recent NFC Championship that the Vikings have won.

Super Bowl

Statistics

Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
Passing yards Fran Tarkenton 2,961
Passing touchdowns Fran Tarkenton 17
Rushing yards Chuck Foreman 1,155
Rushing touchdowns Chuck Foreman 13
Receiving yards Sammy White 906
Receiving touchdowns Sammy White 10
Points Fred Cox 89
Kickoff return yards Leonard Willis 552
Punt return yards Leonard Willis 207
Interceptions Nate Wright 7

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 28)
Passing offense 2,855 203.9 4th
Rushing offense 2,003 143.1 18th
Total offense 4,858 347.0 6th
Passing defense 1,575 112.5 1st
Rushing defense 2,096 149.7 17th
Total defense 3,671 262.2 6th

References

  1. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  2. ^ [1]

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