Super Bowl XI
Next weekend the Raiders will be going to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. While they rest up, it's a good time to look back at the most famous contest between these two teams. 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 was the second highest in the league.
Stabler, Ken QB
Davis, Clarence RB
Van Eeghen, Mark RB
Biletnikoff, Fred WR
Branch, Cliff WR
Dalby, Dave C
Buehler, George G
Upshaw, Eugene G
Shell, Art T
Vella, John T
Casper, Dave TE
Rowe, Dave DT
Sistrunk, Otis DT
Matuszak, John DE
Villapiano, Phil DE
Hendricks, Ted OLB
Johnson, Monte OLB
Hall, Willie MLB
Brown, Willie CB
Thomas, Alonzo CB
Tatum, Jack FS
Atkinson, George SS
OAK FG Mann 24
OAK Casper 1 pass from Stabler (Mann kick)
OAK Banaszak 1 run (kick failed)
OAK FG Mann 40
MIN S. White 8 pass from Tarkenton (Cox kick),
OAK Banaszak 2 run (Mann kick)
OAK Brown 75 interception return (kick failed),
MIN Voigt 13 pass from Lee (Cox kick)
John tells it from his book, "Hey wait a minute, I wrote a book!"
We won the toss, took the kickoff and drove to the Vikings 21-yard line before Errol Mann's 29-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright. The next time we got the ball, we had to punt from our 39, but I wasn't concerned.
When we had to punt the third time we had the ball, I also wasn't concerned, but I should have been. Ray Guy was not only the NFL's best punter, but in his four seasons he had never had a punt blocked. Never. So when Ray went back to punt, I wasn't even paying attention. About five minutes were left in the first quarter with no score, and I was talking to Kenny Stabler. Ray was waiting on our 19 for the snap.
Instead of hearing the boom of his punt, I suddenly heard the blap that means only one thing -- his punt had been blocked. This blocked punt went backward, all the way to our 3-yard line where a Viking linebacker, Fred McNeil, fell on it.
As our defense hurried onto the field, I remembered how I had told Al that I was so sure we were going to win, and I remembered how he told me, "Don't ever talk like that, John, you know better than to talk like." I did know better.
On first down Chuck Foreman got a yard to our 2, but on second down Phil Villapiano hit Brent McClanahan, who fumbled. Willie Hall recovered on the 1 for us. That good feeling came over me again. Our defense hurried off the field, jumping and yelling, slapping hands and hugging each other, proving my theory that success breeds togetherness, not that togetherness breeds success.
But in the jubilation of the fumble recovery, Jack Tatum hurried over to me and nodded toward Villapiano. "You better check out Phil," he said. "What's the matter with him?" I asked.
"I think he's goofy," Jack told me.
"He's always a little goofy," I said.
"No, he's more goofy than usual," Jack said. "When we were in the huddle down there near the goal-line, he was saying, 'Now we've got 'em where we want 'em.' "
"He said that?"
"He said that."
I walked over to where Phil was sitting on the bench. "You all right?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said.
"The guys told me that you were saying, 'Now we got 'em where we want 'em.' "
"We did have 'em where we want 'em."
"We did? On our 3 ... on our 2?"
"Yeah. Down there, they couldn't throw any deep passes, they weren't going to run any sweeps or any reverses, they were just going to run up the middle. I got in there, the ball popped loose, and we got it. We had 'em right where we wanted 'em."
"Yeah, you're right," I said. "Yeah, we did have 'em right where we wanted 'em."
Phil Villapiano was like that. He made things happen. He had a linebacker's personality. He loved to hit -- like Dick Butkus did, like Lawrence Taylor. Believe me, not many guys really love to hit, but Phil did. And when he hit Brent McClanahan, he turned Super Bowl XI around.
On third down, Clarence Davis went off left tackle for 35 yards to our 41 early in the second quarter. Then we drove to the Vikings 7 before we had to settle for a 24-yard field goal. On the sideline our offensive unit was happy, but I was screaming, "You've got to finish 'em off. You've got to get the ball in the end zone. You've got to get six points, not three."
Kenny Stabler put his arm around me -- "Don't worry, John," he said. "There's plenty more where that came from."
I reacted like a baby who is crying and has a pacifier stuck in his mouth. I shut up. Kenny was right. Our next possession, he ended up a 64-yard drive with a 1-yard pass to Dave Casper in the end zone. Our following possession, he hit Fred Biletnikoff for 17 yards to their 1-yard line, and Pete Banaszak scored on the next play. Even though Errol Mann's extra point was wide, we were ahead at halftime, 16-0, really in command. In the third quarter Errol kicked a 40-yard field goal before the Vikings finally scored on Fran Tarkenton's 8-yard pass to Sammy White.
In the final quarter, the Vikings were driving again when Willie Hall intercepted at our 30 and ran it back to our 46. On third down, Kenny hit Fred Biletnikoff for a 48-yard gain to the 2, and Pete Banaszak went over right tackle on the next play. We were ahead 26-7, and the Vikings were desperate.
Tarkenton was passing on every play when Willie Brown picked one off at our 25 and raced down the other sideline for a touchdown. We were ahead, 32-7, with less than six minutes left. I knew we had won. Call in the dogs and piss on the fire!
The final was 32-14. The Vikings scored in the last minute on a 13-yard pass from their backup quarterback, Bob Lee, to Stu Voight, but I never saw it. I was too busy celebrating on the sideline, walking up and down and shaking hands.