SLAM Presents TD: Special Super Bowl Issue is on sale now! In it, we took every Super Bowl winner and ranked them in order of greatness. Example: If the ’85 Bears played the ’75 Steelers, who would win? That team is higher. We’re counting them down from 47-1; next up, the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs.—Ed.
No. 36: Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl IV
- Date: January 11, 1970
- Game MVP: Len Dawson
- Record: 11-3
The AFL’s last hurrah was a great one. One year after the New York Jets shocked the football world by whipping the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, the Chiefs proved the triumph was no fluke, and as the upstart league headed into a merger with its more established big brother, there could be nothing but good feelings for the 10-year-old AFL.
The Kansas City team that dusted mighty Minnesota in SB IV featured six future Hall of Famers and a collection of talent that was certainly as good as any that could be found in the NFL. Bringing it all together was fireball coach Hank Stram, whose comments during the big game were brought to America courtesy of NFL Films and established him as a folk hero chatterbox.
Despite the damage the Chiefs inflicted on the Vikings, their season was not quite as dominant. Though they finished second in the AFL in scoring and holding opponents to the fewest points in the league, KC did not even win the West. Their 11-3 record, of course, was nothing to sneer at, but the Chiefs did lose both of their games to the Raiders after breaking from the gate 9-1 with a seven-game winning streak.
QB Len Dawson did not have his finest year at the helm of the KC offense, throwing just nine TD passes against 13 interceptions and missing a good portion of the year due to injury. But the potent KC ground attack that featured Mike Garrett, Warren McVea and Robert Holmes made up for the team’s shaky passing attack.
And the defense—Kansas City was loaded with talent—made up for everything. The front line included stalwarts Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp, while Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell were linebacker standouts. Emmitt Thomas and Johnny Robinson combined for 17 of the Chiefs’ 32 interceptions in the secondary.
It’s rare to see a team win it all after struggling down the stretch, but the Chiefs finished 2-2 and still captured the Super Bowl. Dawson became more reliable under center, and the defense allowed a mere 20 points in three post-season games. The road to New Orleans began in New York against the East Division champion Jets. A fourth-quarter TD pass from Dawson to Gloster Richardson and a key late goal-line stand clinched a 13-6 victory and a berth in the AFL title game with rival Oakland.
The Raiders took a 7-0 lead, but TD runs by Holmes and Wendell Hayes led the way to a 17-7 Kansas City triumph. Three years after getting blasted by Green Bay in the first-ever Super Bowl, the Chiefs had a chance for redemption. But it wouldn’t come easy—or so everyone thought. Their opponents would be the Vikings, who stormed through the NFL with a 12-2 record. The Purple People Eaters were a formidable defensive unit, and rough-edged quarterback Joe Kapp led an offense that could strike well through the air or over land. The NFL was smarting from the previous year’s face-plant by the Colts and was expecting to show the AFL that the Jets’ win was a fluke. The oddsmakers sure expected that to happen and installed Minnesota as a 13-point favorite.
It was another bad play. The Vikings were outclassed from the start of the game and never established anything offensively. Kansas City held the Vikes to a mere 67 yards rushing and forced five turnovers. KC ran to a 16-0 halftime lead thanks to a trio of Jan Stenerud field goals and Garrett’s 5-yard TD run. Minnesota showed some life after intermission, using a 4-yard Dave Osborn run to narrow the margin to 16-7. But Otis Taylor turned a routine hitch pass into a devastating 46-yard touchdown to make it 23-7. That was the final score.
In its last game of existence, the AFL had proven that it was a little brother no longer.
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