The Vikings were 87-24-1 in the eight regular seasons from 1969 through 1976. This included a 7-7 record in 1972. In the other seven seasons, the Vikings reached double figures in victories -- quite a run when you recall this was the era of the 14-game schedule.

Followers of the Purple became extra-spoiled during this stretch, to the point we would complain when victories were not properly impressive.

On several occasions, Bud Grant heard grumbles from the Met Stadium crowd, or detected a hint of criticism in a sportswriter's question, and that's when the coach would put the steel in his gray eyes and say:

"It's not how you win, but if you win."

We would all stuff a sock in it for a couple more weeks, for Harry Peter Grant was more than a football coach during those glory days of the '70s: He was also the conscience of Minnesota.

There was never a victory in which a "tsk, tsk" from Bud to the masses and the media was more needed than on Nov. 14, 1971, when the Green Bay Packers came to Bloomington.

The Packers had run off Phil Bengtson after only three seasons as Vince Lombardi's successor and hired Dan Devine. Green Bay has used the ninth pick in the 1971 draft to select John Brockington, a powerful running back from Ohio State.

Brockington's presence did not prevent the Packers from bringing a 3-4-1 record into Met Stadium.

The Vikings were 6-2, and relying on mighty defense and certainly not production from the quarterback trio of Gary Cuozzo, Bobby Lee and Norm Snead. They combined for 18 interceptions and nine touchdowns in that 11-3 season.

On that mid-November afternoon, Brockington rushed for 142 yards and carried the Packers to the Vikings' 16, 1, 20, 10 and 8-yard lines. They were stopped on a tipped field goal, two interceptions, lost a fumble and were held on downs at the 1.

The Vikings had 21 yards passing (with Cuozzo), 87 yards total and 5 first downs. Somehow, there was Fred Cox kicking a late 25-yard field goal for a 3-0 Vikings' victory.

And when asked to explain this ugliest of victories, Bud made any naysayers feel small with a favored mantra:

"Statistics are for losers."

Since the Vikings started play in 1961, Patrick Reusse has been a sportswriter in Duluth, St. Cloud, St. Paul and Minneapolis.