1970 Minnesota Vikings (Would This Be Their Year?)

Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, many predicted the 1970 Vikings would be back in the big game. But Minnesota lost its starting quarterback, Joe Kapp, in a contract dispute, and what turned out to be a great season ended disappointingly.

The Minnesota Vikings lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 23–7 in Super Bowl IV, but the Vikings got some measure of revenge eight months later by defeating KC, 27–10, in Week 1 of the 1970 season. They beat the lowly New Orleans Saints the following week, 26–0, but then were upset in Week 3 by an inferior Packers’ team.

The Vikings bounced back strong the following week by scoring a 24–0 shutout of the Chicago Bears, and they followed that up by shellacking the eventual NFC Champion Dallas Cowboys, 54–13.

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A 13–3 win over an excellent LA Rams team in Week 6 showed the rest of the league that the 1970 Vikings were every bit as good as the 1969 Vikings. Minnesota stood at 5–1 at that point, and its famous “Purple People Eaters” had allowed only 39 points and three touchdowns scored against them.

Kapp Not Needed?

The surprising thing is that success came without their fearless leader; quarterback Joe Kapp, at the helm. Following a contract dispute, Kapp left Minneapolis to hook up with the then-Boston Patriots.

The Vikings won their next four games to run their record to 9–1. Two of those wins came against a Detroit Lions team that had a good year in 1970, finishing the season 10–4 and qualifying for the playoffs.

Following an inexplicable loss to the NY Jets, the team recovered and won their next three games to finish the season at 12–2. Minnesota allowed just 143 points for the 1970 season–only 10 points more than the 1969 team allowed.

Many analysts and fans thought these Vikings could go all the way, but they didn’t.

The prevailing opinion was that the team’s early exit from the playoffs–upset in the first round by the upstart 49ers–resulted from not having veteran Kapp at quarterback. Gary Cuozzo, the starter, was 9–27 with two interceptions in the 17–14 playoff loss to the 49ers.

One can only wonder if the 1970 Vikings could have won the Super Bowl had Kapp played in 1970. It’s one of many NFL questions that will never be answered.

Mark Morthier is the host of Yesterday’s Sports, a podcast dedicated to reliving memorable sports moments from his childhood days and beyond.  He grew up in New Jersey just across from New York City, so many of his episodes revolve around the great sport’s teams of the 70s for the New York area. 

He is also an author of No Nonsense, Old School Weight Training (Second Edition): A Guide for People with Limited Time and Running Wild: (Growing Up in the 1970s)

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Photo Courtesy: Mark Morthier

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