1969 NFL Championship Game

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1969 NFL Championship Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Cleveland Browns 0 0 0 7 7
Minnesota Vikings 14 10 3 0 27
Date January 4, 1970
Stadium Metropolitan Stadium
City Bloomington, MN
Referee Tommy Bell
Attendance 46,503
TV/Radio in the United States
TV Network CBS
TV Announcers Ray Scott, Paul Christman and Bruce Roberts
Radio Network CBS
Previous game Next game
1968 Super Bowl IV

The 1969 NFL Championship Game was the 37th and final championship game played prior to the AFL-NFL Merger. The winner of the game played in Super Bowl IV against the champion of the American Football League. The Minnesota Vikings became the only team that had joined the league during the AFL era to win a pre-merger NFL championship by defeating the Cleveland Browns 27-7. The Browns were making their second straight appearance and fourth in the 1960s. The game was played January 4, 1970 at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota.

Although not as severe as the "Ice Bowl" the weather conditions were bitterly cold with a temperature of 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Cleveland LB Jim Houston suffered frostbite during the game and was hospitalized.

Minnesota had gone 12–2 during the regular season, including a 51–3 defeat of the Browns, and had defeated the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 in the Western Conference championship a week earlier at Met Stadium. The Vikings were coached by Bud Grant and led on offense by quarterback Joe Kapp and WR Gene Washington. The defense allowed only 133 points (9.50 per game) during the regular season and was led by the front four line known as the Purple People Eaters.

Cleveland had gone 10–3–1 during regular season and had defeated the Dallas Cowboys 38-14 for the Eastern Conference title. The Browns were coached by Blanton Collier. Bill Nelsen was the starting quarterback and Gary Collins and Paul Warfield were star wide receivers for the team.

Scoring summary[edit]

Minnesota Vikings 27, Cleveland Browns 7
1 2 3 4 Total
Browns 0 0 0 7 7
Vikings 14 10 3 0 27

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

  • Date: January 4
  • Game weather: 8 °F (−13 °C), wind 9 mph, wind chill −6 °F (−21 °C), relative humidity 75%
  • TV: CBS
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
  • MIN - Fred Cox 30-yard field goal - Vikings 17-0
  • MIN - Dave Osborn 20-yard run (Fred Cox kick) - Vikings 24-0
Third Quarter
  • MIN - Fred Cox 32-yard field goal - Vikings 27-0
Fourth Quarter

Cleveland had lost the previous season's NFL title game 34-0, and this time fared little better. The Vikings dominated the game, racking up 381 yards without losing a single turnover, while Cleveland gained just 268 yards and turned the ball over three times.

The Vikings took a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the first quarter, driving 70 yards in 8 plays. They key play of the drive was a pass from Joe Kapp to receiver Gene Washington that was nearly 5 yards short of the mark. Despite the short throw, Washington was able to come back and haul it in for a 33-yard gain on the Browns 24-yard line. Four plays later, Dave Osborn's 11-yard run moved the ball to the 7. On the next play, he accidentally slipped and bumped into Kapp while moving up to take a handoff, but Kapp simply kept the ball himself and ran it 7 yards for a touchdown.

The situation never got any better for Cleveland. The next time Minnesota got the ball, defensive back Erich Barnes slipped while in one on one coverage with Washington, enabling him to catch a pass from Kapp and take off for a 75-yard touchdown completion. Near the end of the first quarter, Browns running back Leroy Kelly lost a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Wally Hilgenberg on the Cleveland 43. Kapp then completed a 25-yard pass to Washington before Fred Cox finished the drive with a 30-yard field goal, putting the Vikings up 17-0. Later in the second period, Hilgenberg snuffed out a Cleveland scoring threat by intercepting a pass from Bill Nelson on the Vikings 33-yard line. Minnesota subsequently drove 67 yards in 8 plays. Kapp started the drive with a pair of completions to John Henderson for 17 total yards, while Osborn broke off a 16-yard run and ended up finishing the drive with a 20-yard touchdown burst, giving the Vikings a 24-0 lead with 4:46 left in the first half. Cleveland responded with a drive to the Vikings 17, but turned the ball over on downs when Nelson overthrew receiver Gary Collins in the end zone on 4th and 3.

The third quarter was mostly uneventful, other then Cox's 32-yard field goal that gave Minnesota a 27-0 lead after an 11-play, 80-yard drive. The most noteworthy play was a 13-yard scramble by Kapp in which he plowed into 240-pound Browns linebacker Jim Houston so hard that Houston was knocked out of the game. In the 4th quarter, Cleveland finally got on the board when a diving 18-yard reception by Paul Warfield set up Nelson's 3-yard touchdown pass to Collins. There were still 13 minutes on the clock at this point, but there would be no more scoring. The Vikings had a drive to the Cleveland 2-yard line, but decided to let the clock run out instead of go for another score.[1]

Kapp completed just 7/13 passes, but threw for 169 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 57 yards and another score. Osborn rushed 18 times for 108 yards and a touchdown. Washington had 125 yards and a touchdown on just 3 receptions. Kelly was the Browns top rusher with 80 yards, while also catching two passes for 17. Nelson completed just 17 of 33 passes for 181 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.


[1] Chuck Heaton, "Vikings Repulse Browns, 27–7", Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 4, 1970, Browns history database retrieved December 12, 2007