In their third trip to the big game the Minnesota Vikings once again came up short, dropping a 16-6 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl IX and failing to cover as 3-point betting underdogs.
Pittsburgh earned their first Super Bowl berth on the strength of a strong ground game and their Steel Curtain defense, which held opponents to just 13.5 points per game during the regular season.
The 10-3-1 Steelers finished first in the AFC Central, setting up a Divisional Playoff matchup with the Buffalo Bills. RB Franco Harris ran for three TDs as the Steelers dominated the Bills in a 32-14 win.
Pittsburgh needed a late rally in their AFC Championship matchup with the Oakland Raiders. After falling behind 10-3, the Steelers punched in three fourth-quarter TDs, two by Harris, to claim a 24-13 victory.
The Vikings finished their NFL campaign with a 10-4 record, claiming top spot in the NFC Central.
Like the Steelers, the Vikes were among the NFL’s top defensive units as the Purple People Eaters held opponents to 13.9 points per game.
Minnesota dominated in a 30-14 NFC Divisional Playoff win over the St. Louis Cardinals, but was outgained 340-269 in their 14-10 NFC Championship win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Both the Steelers and the Vikings struggled to move the ball in the first half of Super Bowl IX, with Minnesota failing to penetrate the Pittsburgh red zone and the only scoring in the half coming on a safety following an end zone fumble by Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton.
The Steelers opened things up early in the third quarter, capitalizing on a Marv Kellum fumble on the Sportsbook kickoff followed by a nine-yard TD run by Franco Harris four plays later, giving Pittsburgh a 9-0 lead.
The Vikings made it close when Terry Brown recovered a blocked Steelers punt in the end zone, bringing Minnesota to within three points.
But Pittsburgh salted the victory early in the fourth quarter as QB Terry Bradshaw connected with Larry Brown on a four-yard TD pass, increasing the Steelers' lead to 10.
Harris was named Super Bowl MVP following a stellar performance, racking up 158 rushing yards on 34 carries, while the UNDER prevailed with sportsbooks setting the point total set at 33 for the third time in as many years.