The last time the Vikings shut out the Packers, I was a 12-year-old kid listening to the game on the radio with my dad in our living room in Richfield. The game, played at the Met, was not broadcast on local television. Here's the Minneapolis Star account of the fourth-quarter interception that led to Minnesota's winning field goal.
Super play West: team win
By Dick Gordon
Special to the Minneapolis Star
It was a “super play” by Viking safety Charlie West, according to Coach Bud Grant.
It was a “non-super” play selection by Green Bay quarterback Scott Hunter, according to Coach Danny Devine.
That combination – the bum call that led to West’s great interception – turned almost certain Viking defeat Sunday into a 3-0 victory as the Purple’s cardiac crew went down to the wire for the fourth straight weekend.
Despite producing a club record low in total offense (87 yards) and first downs (5), the Vikings still lead the Central Division and their 7-2 won-lost record is tops for the National Football Conference.
Here was the situation midway in the fourth quarter when a second straight setback beckoned:
The box score is hard to read, so I'll pull out one key stat: Minnesota QB Gary Cuozzo completed 5 of 11 passes for 42 yards.
The Packers, taking advantage of a rare penalty – defensive holding against John Ward on their punt – had moved to the Viking eight-yard-line, second down, goal-to-go. Naturally the Packers, who rushed for 245 yards, would call on John Brockington who contributed 149 himself.
Devine had been preaching to Hunter on the sidelines “for five minutes” that a field goal would win the game. He knew the Vikings hadn’t scored a touchdown in two weeks. At that stage he reasoned three points were as good as a million.
“We were prepared to play the run first,” said Viking defensive coach Neill Armstrong. But Hunter admittedly “got greedy” and passed.
“We were in man-to-man defense and I stuck with him (intended receiver Rich McGeorge) to the outside,” said West. Charlie was playing strong safety for the first time in two years because of Karl Kassulke’s injury.
Hunter threw and West, slightly in front of McGeorge, jumped. His super play did not stop with his catch in the end zone. Stumbling momentarily, he recovered and ran all the way to midfield.
It was only the third time the Vikings had enjoyed such field position.
Paul Krause, Minnesota's free safety, intercepted this pass from Green Bay's Scott Hunter, intended for Donny Anderson (44) and returned it 31 yards. It was one of three Vikings interceptions. (Staff Photo by Earl Seubert)
And led by Dave Osborn, they took advantage for their most sustained drive, all of 32 yards. Fred Cox’s field goal, almost automatic even in the tricky winds, gave them all the points they needed with West’s second interception wrapping it up.
“I am not the man of the hour,” disagreed West when someone suggested that was his role at Metropolitan Stadium yesterday. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The accolades should go to the whole defense, the whole team.”
“We made a lot of big plays,” said Grant. “They didn’t make any.”
That was about the only way to explain the victory in the face of the Packers’ huge statistical edge.
The Viking defense carried Grant’s “bend but don’t break” theme to extremes. It yielded 301 total offense yards while fashioning their third 1971 shutout.
Carl Gersbach started the trend by getting “two fingers” on Lou Michaels’ 23-yard field goal in the first quarter. The win did the rest and it was wide.
The defense on the field for 60 percent of the time – “We ought to get double on our pension time,” quipped Jim Marshall – authored four more big plays in the second and third quarters.
Wally Hilgenberg, Alan Page and Marshall twice stopped Donny Anderson cold when the Packers had third down two feet to go for a first down and a yard and a half for the TD.
Later Krause came over form the other side to help out Gersbach and make the interception on the three when Anderson had Gersbach beat. Krause, who got the game ball, made another lifesaver in the third quarter by recovering a fumble, again on the three when Jim Marshall had jarred the ball loose from Anderson. “But for McGeorge I could have gone all the way,” said Krause. Instead he went six yards.
“Maybe it’s written somewhere that you are supposed to win … or you’re supposed to lose,” said Grant. “This one was written for us to win.”
The last time the Vikings scored only three points was three years ago. Then they lost 31-3 to Los Angeles.
Yesterday it was different.