Rooney's 42-Year Reward
This year's Super Bowl matchups included the Minnesota Vikings, twice losers of the NFL's big game, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were enjoying their first trip to the post-season event. For the Vikings, already branded a club unable to win the big one, the game was a matter of professional pride. The Steelers' motivation came from the fact that they had finally pocketed their first conference title since 1933, the year the franchise began.
Most of the past Super Bowls have been conservative and relativly dull games, and Super Bowl IX was no exception as both teams continued the same offensive pattern of trying to avoid costly mistakes rather than trying to break the game open. In fact, the only score of the first half was a safety, with the Steelers getting two points when Viking quarterback Fran Tarkenton botched a pitch-out deep in his own territory and had to fall on the ball in the endzone. The close 2-0 halftime score belied a key difference in the teams; the Pittsburgh defense, led by Joe Greene, had successfully shut down Viking running star Chuck Foreman, while the Steeler offensive line was opening up constant holes in the Viking front four to allow Franco Harris to go rushing through.
The break that the Steelers were waiting for came on the opening kickoff of the second half, when Minnesota's Bill Brown fumbled the ball and Pittsburgh's Marv Kellum recovered it on the Viking 30-yard line. Harris followed his offensive line the rest of the way, covering 24 yards in one carry and finally going over for the touchdown on a 9-yard sweep around the left end. The 9-0 Steeler lead held up through the third period, but the Vikings came back with a strong challenge in the final period. A pass interference call on Mike Wagner gave the Vikes the ball on the Steeler five yard line, but Foreman fumbled on the next play and Greene recovered for Pittsburgh. Four plays later, Matt Blair blocked Bobby Walden's punt, with Terry Brown falling on it in the endzone for a Viking touchdown. Fred Cox missed the extra point, and the Steeler defense steadfastly refused to let the Vikes get close enough to go for the tying field goal. A 65-yard Pittsburgh drive culminating in a 4-yard scoring pass from Terry Bradshaw to Larry Brown iced the game away with 3:31 left.
By the time the final gun sounded the Vikings had their third loss in three attempts, and the Steelers had a host of triumphs which included Franco Harris and his record setting 158 yards rushing and the happiest owner in pro football in Art Rooney who, after 42 frustrating years, finally claimed his dream--a pro football championship.