In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
It is a new day in the NFL as the merger with the AFL is completed, making one giant football league. Among the games in the first week is a rematch of Super Bowl IV from January. It is the first regular-season game where a team from the NFC plays a team from the AFC. Playing a Metropolitan Stadium, the Vikings get revenge, beating the Chiefs 27-10.
The wheels of the merger started after 1965 when the rival American Football League agreed to create a common draft with the National Football League. The peace summit also ended the league’s battle for players as the AFL and NFL agreed to no longer poach each pother players in a bid to keep salaries under control. The agreement even created a championship between the two leagues that would become known as the Super Bowl.
After the Green Packers won the first two Super Bowls, the New York Jets stunned the world by winning Super Bowl III. As the Jets had proved the legitimacy of the Super Bowl and the AFL, talks began of a merger in which the AFL would be absorbed by the NFL, creating one league and giving all teams equal footing. The AFL was a smaller league with ten teams, including the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, who were recent expansion teams. The NFL had 16 teams, with their recent expansion additions the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. The 1969 season saw the NFL celebrate 50 seasons, as the AFL closed its first decade. In Super Bowl IV, the Kansas City Chiefs, led by a miced-up Hank Stram, again proved the AFL was on equal footing as they upset the Minnesota Vikings 23-7.
After the merger, the NFL teams would become the National Football Conference, while the AFL became the American Football Conference. To even the two conferences, three NFL teams moved to the AFC (Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore Colts.)
The Vikings came into 1970 with a new look, as quarterback Joe Kapp was not re-signed. Gary Cuozzo, a legend from Glen Ridge, New Jersey, who worked as a dentist in the offseason, was chosen as the new starter by Bud Grant. After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings took the lead in the second quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Fred Cox. The Vikings extended the lead to 10-0, as Jim Marshall recovered a Chiefs’ fumble and lateraled it to Roy Winston, who scored a defensive touchdown. The Purple People Eaters did a great job all day swallowing up the Kansas City offense. The Vikings forced four turnovers, including two interceptions thrown by Super Bowl MVP Len Dawson. Dawson got the Chiefs on the board with a 59-yard pass to Otis Taylor. However, the Vikings answered on a one-yard run by Dave Osborn and led 17-7 at the half.
In the third quarter, Jan Stenerud hit a 26-yard field goal to get the Chiefs back with a touchdown. However, the Vikings were in control most of the way, as they pulled away at the end with ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter, with a touchdown by Oscar Reed and a 40-yard field goal by Fred Cox.
The Vikings would finish the 1970 season with a record of 12-2 but lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Playoff Round. The Chiefs meanwhile posted a disappointing record of 7-5-2.