(Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings)
Talk of Fame Network
The Minnesota Vikings could never win when they reached a Super Bowl – but they found a way to win when they don’t get there.
In this week’s poll, the Talk of Fame Network asked our listeners and readers to vote on the greatest team never to reach a Super Bowl and provided four options: the 1967 Cowboys, 1976 Steelers, 1981 Chargers and 1998 Vikings.
The Vikings won in a landslide, receiving almost half the vote (46.7 percent). The 1976 Steelers were next with 24.4 percent of the vote, followed by the Cowboys at 15.6 percent and the Chargers at 13.3 percent.
As usual, our hosts disagreed – at least two of them, anyway. Both Ron Borges and Clark Judge cast their votes for Pittsburgh.
“The ’76 Steelers put more steel in the Steel Curtain than any of their Super Bowl winning team,” Borges said. “This was the best team of the Chuck Noll Era … but the unluckiest.”
Unlucky because the Steelers played a chunk of the regular season without their Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, then lost both starting running backs during the playoffs because of injury. Playing without 1,000-yard rushers Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in the AFC title game, the Steelers succumbed to the Oakland Raiders, 24-7.
Lost in the non-Super Bowl season was the fact that the Steelers wasted their best defensive effort ever. Pittsburgh allowed the fewest yards and points in the NFL that season and shut out five of their 14 opponents.
“Look at their last nine games that year,” Judge said. “They allowed 27 points. Total. They threw five shutouts. Only one opponent found the end zone. Had Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris not been hurt and held out against Oakland in the playoffs, there’s no doubt in my mind the ’76 Steelers would’ve won another Super Bowl.”
Alas, the voting public and host Rick Gosselin disagree. He joined the masses in casting his ballot for the Vikings. That 1998 team went 15-1 and led the NFL in both yards and points that season, setting an NFL scoring record (since broken) with 556 points. But the Vikings lost the NFC championship game at home in overtime to Atlanta, 30-27.
“Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss Cris Carter – I would rather have seen those Vikings in the Super Bowl against the Broncos than the Falcons,” Gosselin said. “It would have been far more entertaining.”
The 1967 Cowboys lost the NFL championship game (the Ice Bowl) to the Green Bay Packers and the 1981 Chargers lost the AFC championship game (the Freezer Bowl) to the Cincinnati Bengals.