The “Mud Bowl” 1977

I became a Rams fan in 1986, so this game was played way before my time. However, I have a voracious interest in the glorious past of this team, so I thought I’d sit down and watch this sludgy contest from another time and seemingly another planet. Quite a different atmosphere than today’s perfectly manicured, pass-happy NFL.

After losing starting QB Fran Tarkenton to a broken leg earlier in the season, the Vikings still found themselves atop the NFC Central and headed to the playoffs for the fifth straight season. They were headed to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in the NFC Divisional round. Keep in mind, the Vikings had played the Rams earlier in the season at home before Tarkenton went down, and they got throttled 35-3.

After this game, most fans were convinced the Rams were jinxed. The Rams of the 1970s were a perennial division-winning team who always seemed to falter on the road in the postseason. However, this playoff game was thought to be contested in the friendly weather confines of the Coliseum–the team had finally acquired a playoff game on their own turf. Unfortunately, it rained for three straight days and nights, proving that the old song by Sonny and Cher, It never rains in Southern California is a blatant lie. The Coliseum had transformed into a swamp.

The Rams fell behind early as the conditions worsened throughout the game, and the mud became a major factor with Coliseum grounds crew members scrambling to make the grass playable for wide receiver Harold Jackson and the Rams’ running game of Lawrence McCutcheon and John Cappelletti. They failed horribly, which forced the team to rely more on an inexperienced passing game from (undersized?) quarterback Pat Haden. The speed advantage for the Rams was taken away and the 10 1/2 point favorite Rams were defeated 14-7. 

Some fans were upset that the terribly inferior Pat Haden (14-32 130 yds, 3 int.) played the whole game while Joe Namath, in his final NFL game, picked splinters out of his ass on the bench. (There were theories that Namath had bigger hands and would be able to grip and throw the ball more accurately) Head coach Chuck “Ground Chuck” Knox, feeling the criticism, stepped down after the game and eventually became head coach for the Buffalo Bills.

The Vikings would go on to play the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game where they’d eventually lose 23-6.


14 thoughts on “The “Mud Bowl” 1977

  1. retrosimba

    Thanks for a fun post, Gary. I didn’t know about this game.
    Thanks, too, for including the video. It was a delight to hear Vin Scully do the play-by-play. He was as good at football as he was at baseball. His professional, informative and even delivery stands in stark contrast to the entertainers, hucksters, promoters and shills who often masquerade as big-game broadcasters today. I also enjoyed Vin’s intro in which he informed viewers “this is probably the worst weather for a game in Los Angeles since 1949.” He immediately gave a perspective to what we were about to witness.

    I think I could have taken 100 guesses or more and not come up with Bob Lee being the starting quarterback for the Vikings in that game.

    I would have hated to be the equipment managers and staff who had to launder those uniforms. Today, at least one of the players would have gotten big bucks to do an endorsement for Tide laundry detergent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Badfinger (Max)

    I was a Rams fan as well but in the late seventies after Namath was gone when I was a kid. This game looks like a lot of fun to watch. I wonder how many hamstrings were pulled….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        Ok…I’ll check it out…thanks! I know this sounds like “Get Off My Lawn” but I like those older games more…although I feel guilty for liking them because of CTE.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Double K

    Don’t guess I ever realized this was Broadway Joe’s final game. I wish some beat writer had been assigned to stand next to Joe the whole game and record his thoughts as he watched his final game unfold coming to the apparent realization that a three-interception game from Pat Haden was apparently better than what he had to offer.
    And who can forget the then #2 scoring leader of all-time, Vikings kicker Fred Cox! There’s something inherently wrong with kickers dominating the NFL all-time scoring charts. If I were an alien from another planet my logical conclusion would be that Adam Vinatieri is the greatest football player ever. If you don’t count George Blanda (#7), you have to go all the way down to #42 (Jerry Rice) to find a true non-kicker on the scoring list.
    Anyway, good read my man. I’m learning a ton about Rams football!

    Liked by 1 person


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