Super Bowl IX
Pittsburgh Steelers        16
Minnesota Vikings           6

By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 13, 1975

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 12 The colors of the jerseys were different and so were the faces. But the ninth Super Bowl was not much different from the eighth.

The Minnesota Vikings, creamed by the Miami Dolphins, 24-7, last year, were as thoroughly thrashed by this year's American Football Conference champions, 16-6.

The Steelers won today because their defense, as always, was a dominating force and running back Franco Harris carried the offense on his powerful legs for two Super Bowl rushing records and a touchdown.

Harris gained 158 yards in 34 carries, including a nine-yard touchdown run behind a devastating block by Garry Mullins 95 seconds into the second half that provided the Steelers a 9-0 lead.

The Steelers assured the decision when quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the fellow who was not supposed to be smart enough to win a world championship, passed four yards to tight end Larry Brown for a touchdown with 3:31 remaining on a play suggested on the sideline by reserve quarterback Joe Gilliam.

On a raw and windswept afternoon over a field that was slippery from an overnight rain, the Steelers dominated every aspect of the day's play.

Oh, the Vikings got back in the football game when Matt Blair blocked Bobby Walden's punt and Terry Brown recovered two yards into the end zone for a touchdown that got them to within 9-6 with 11:33 to play.

Fred Cox missed the extra point and things got considerably worse for the Vikings thereafter. The Steelers kept the ball for seven minutes, two seconds before Bradshaw rolled to his right, and hit Brown in the end zone for the game clinching score.

The big play in the drive, a 30-yard pass to Brown, will be hotly debated for as long as these games are played. Brown seemingly fumbled the football when he was hit by Jackie Wallace, but the officials ruled the play dead at the Minnesota 28. To most observers in the crowd of 80, 97, including Viking coach Bud Grant, it seemed like a quick whistle.

"It was just a succession of errors by all three teams," Grant said in the locker room, apparently referring to game officials as the third team.

"From our vantage point," Grant said, "Brown had not reached the ground when the ball came loose. Our bench reacted immediately. There wasn't any question in their mind it was a fumble, but the officials ruled the ball dead."

"Our feeling was there was no question that he was not down. The official who called it was across the field and behind him and the official who ruled it our ball was in front of the play. When they didn't give it to us, it became a very big play_bigger than any we could make. Neither team got here playing this kind of football."

Certainly there were all manner of botched plays and bungled football all day. The Vikings lost two fumbles and Fran Tarkenton, who was harassed unmercifully by the Pittsburgh front four, threw three interceptions.

He also mishandled an attempted pitchout intended for Dave Osborne and was forced to fall on the ball in his end zone with 7:11 left in the second quarter for a safety and a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.

The Steelers had more than their share of adversity today as well. They were penalized seven times for 107 yards and lost two fumbles. Their defense more than atoned for those egregious errors.

"I'm proud of this football team," Steeler coach Chuck Noll said when the game was over. "We let nothing stand in our way. It's especially fitting in a championship game that our defense shut out the National Football Conference champions."

Mean Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White chased Tarkenton all over the ball park today, tipping away three of his passes and giving the little scrambler no breathing room at all.

The Vikings were held to 17 yards rushing, 12 less than Pittsburgh allowed the Oakland Raiders last week, and Minnesota could manage only 119 yards of total offense.

"They were the best football team," said Tarkenton. "They deserved to win, we didn't. We didn't capitalize on all our opportunities. Pittsburgh did. We're not frustrated. We came to win, and we just couldn't do it."

Most of all, they were unable to contain Harris, who moved at will inside or out, dragging tacklers with him wherever he went.

The Vikings' Bill Brown, a 36-year-old, 14-year veteran, fumbled the bouncing ball. It was recovered by the Steelers' Marv Kellum at the Viking 39, and suddenly the Steelers had another opportunity.

The Steelers, who had wasted two good opportunities in the first half when Roy Gerela missed a 37-yard field goal and could not get off a kick because of a bad snap on a 33-yard effort, did not squander this one.

After Rocky Bleier had no gain on first down, Bradshaw turned to Harris, the game's most valuable player. He gained 24 yards on second down to the six, lost three on first and goal from there, then swept left end behind a block thrown by Gerry Mullins on linebacker Wally Hilgenberg for the score.

The Vikings had more than their share of scoring opportunities but the Steeler defense frustrated them at every turn.

Late in the first half Tarkenton hit John Gilliam with a pass at the six, and then the Steelers' Glen Edwards hit Gilliam a wicked shot. The ball bounced high in the air and Mel Blount intercepted to kill the drive.

Early in the fourth quarter, trailing 9-0, Tarkenton had a first-and-goal at the Steeler five after a pass interference call on the Steelers' Mike Wagner. He handed the ball to Chuck Foreman, who fumbled, and Greene recovered for the Steelers.

The Vikings blocked Walden's punt for a touchdown on the next series, but Tarkenton never was able to get his team into the end zone.

Tarkenton completed only 11 of 27 passes and Gilliam, his dangerous wide receiver caught only one of them. Foreman had five receptions but the Vikings' leading ground gainer this season was held to 18 yards in 12 carries. His running mate, Osborne, had minus one yard in eight carries.

Bradshaw was nine of 14 for 96 yards, and gained 33 more yards on the ground. He had been much maligned this season, as in all his previous four years in the league. He should not be any more.

"I think I've stated before that I've faced a lot of adversity," he said today. "I withstood the trials and I was able to do it. I've looked at both sides, being a hero and being jerk. I think I can handle this very well."

And so, too, will Art Rooney Jr., the 73-year-old owner of this team he started in 1933.

"I'm not a bit surprised after having been with these fellows all year," he said. "I thought we could win the Super Bowl. They're a great bunch of fellows."

Rooney said he was not all that concerned about the fact that his team had never been to a Super Bowl game before. "I was more worried about them walking up and down Bourbon Street, at night," he said.

Copyright 1975 The Washington Post Company

Super Bowl IX MVP

Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

To earn the first of its four Super Bowl championships, Pittsburgh turned to workhorse running back Franco Harris. In defeating Minnesota 16-6, Pittsburgh won its first-ever NFL championship. Harris rushed 34 times for 158 yards, breaking the record Larry Csonka set one year earlier. After a baseball-like 2-0 halftime score in favor of Pittsburgh, the Steelers took advantage of a Minnesota fumble on the second-half kickoff. Harris ran the ball in from 9 yards for the touchdown. Harris' running and the powerful Steeler defense combined to make that lead stand.

Super Bowl IX Memory

Art Rooney Gets A Trophy

In 1933, Art Rooney won $2,500 in a good day at the racetrack, then used the money to purchase an NFL franchise for Pittsburgh. Rooney could not have foreseen that it would take 41 years before good fortune bestowed a pro football championship on his new team. Early Steelers teams included stars such as Johnny Blood (McNally), Bill Dudley, Cal Hubbard, and Walt Kiesling -- all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- but not until 1974, when the Steel Curtain defense began to assert itself, was Rooney's patience rewarded. Pittsburgh won the AFC Central Division title with a 10-3-1 record in 1974, then defeated Buffalo and Oakland in the postseason to earn the right to play Minnesota in Super Bowl IX. The Steelers beat the the Vikings 16-6 behind a defense that permitted only 17 rushing yards and 119 total yards. "This is the biggest win of my life," the 73-year-old Rooney said as he accepted the Vince Lombardi Trophy from NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. "I'm not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes when I presented the trophy to Art Rooney that day," Rozelle said later. "No man ever deserved it more."

Super Bowl IX Performances

Franco Harris

The measure of Harris' role in the Steelers' offense can be measured like this: During a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, in which the Steelers controlled possession for nearly 39 minutes, future Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw was required to complete only 9 passes for 96 yards while Harris carried 34 times for 158. Few explanations are simpler than that. Although none of his running attempts went for more than 25 yards, Harris was an unstoppable force who turned slivers of daylight into 5- and 6-yard gains. He also scored the first of the Steelers' 2 touchdowns.

Dwight White

Super Bowl week was all but wasted on White, who contracted pleurisy on the flight to New Orleans and spent the next six days in bed. On game day, the Steelers' right defensive end weighed in 18 pounds under his normal playing weight, and assistant coaches were wondering whether he'd survive the pregame warmup. All of which make his performance that much more memorable. He accounted for the Steelers' first points in a 16-6 victory by downing Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the end zone for a safety -- 1 of his 3 tackles for the game -- and he missed only a handful of plays all day.