Super Bowl VIII Review

Super Bowl VIII: Miami Dolphins vs. Minnesota Vikings

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Date: January 13, 1974

Site: Rice Stadium, Houston Texas

Point-Spread: Mia -6/Min +6

Score: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7

MVP: RB Larry Csonka

Miami became one of two teams alongside the Packers to win two Super Bowls and two consecutive Bowls, with a 24-7 win over Super Bowl IV losers–the Minnesota Vikings. Miami was 12-2, on the heels of their perfect season the year before. Many, however, felt this was a better team, having beaten far better teams en route to their second appearance in the superbowl.

Everything was still in place for Miami. Bob Griese passed for 17 touchdowns against only 8 picks. The Miami offense again had great stats, as Larry Csonka ran for 1000 yards again and Mercury Morris fell just short of the 1000-yard mark. Jim Kiick was still getting it done on the ground and in the air. LB Nick Buoniconti led the “No-Name Defense” to another big year. It was a veteran group that was in their third straight Super Bowl and knew how to handle the big game. The Dolphins cruised into Super Bowl 1974–beating Cincinnati 34-16 and Oakland 27-10 to earn their third straight Super Bowl berth.

Minnesota was back in action on Super Bowl Sunday after a 3-year absence. The team had a new look–with veteran quarterback and Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton back on the team after a 5-year run with the New York Giants. Tarkenton had completed over 60% of his passes with 15 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions during the ’73 season. The Minnesota offense was deep–led by rookie back Chuck Foreman and deep threat receiver John Gilliam. Their defensive line, known as the “Purple People Eaters,” led by Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, Alan Page, and Gary Larsen helped lead the Vikings to a 12-2 season and their second Super Bowl.


This would be the first time that an AFC team would be a betting favorite, with Miami favored by 6 points. It signaled that they had pulled even with the “old league” and the former perception of the AFL as an inferior outfit was a thing of the past. The Vikings beat the previous season’s NFC Super Bowl representative Redskins 27-20 and Dallas 27-10 in the playoffs to get into the big game.

Super Bowl VIII Recap

First Half: This one got ugly quickly. The final score might not reflect the lopsidedness of the game, but it wasn’t even that close. The Dolphins scored touchdowns on their first two drives to go up 14-0 and take all the wind out of the Vikings’ sails. A bunch of good runs by Larry Csonka, who had a huge Super Bowl Sunday, led to the first Dolphins touchdown to go up 7-0 on a ten-play drive. After some more nice gallops by Csonka, Kiick pounded it in for the second score–taking the Dolphins up 14-0. It was as if the Vikings didn’t even come out of the tunnel. Their offense offered barely a whimper, held to nothing by the great Miami defense.

The Dolphins got another drive going in the 2nd quarter, culminating in a Garo Yapremian field goal to send Miami up 17-0. But Minnesota looked like they were coming alive. Tarkenton completed a string of passes to get deep into Miami territory. But after scrambling to the Miami 7, Tarkenton and Company stalled out. They went for it on 4th down, but Minnesota RB Oscar Reed coughed up the ball, which was recovered by Jake Scott, who won the Super Bowl MVP the previous year. A horrible half for the Vikings, whose woes on Super Bowl Sunday continued.

Second Half: Minnesota’s John Gilliam had a long return called back to open the second half. Pinned deep in their own territory, the subsequent punt gave Miami great field position at the Minnesota 43-yard line. Miami marched right through the vaunted Vikings defense, culminating with Csonka’s 2nd touchdown run of the game. The big back would be the game MVP with 145 yards on the ground.

That was it for Miami, as they had things well in hand. Any cause for worry was extinguished with each subsequent series, as Minnesota either stagnated or committed some blunder to end promising drives. Early in the 4th, Tarkenton engineered a drive to get Minnesota on the board, running in the ball from 4 yards out to make it 24-7. But with Csonka and Kiick, the Dolphins were able to eat up huge chunks of clock, as Minnesota lost in yet another uninspired Super Bowl performance.