Minnesota Quarterback Joe Kapp evened the score on the next series, and the two opening thrusts showed the difference in the offensive game plans. The Rams intended to move the ball in bursts of five or six yards, either on the ground or in the air. Minnesota, on the other hand, planned to throw long against the cornerbacks. Two of these big plays animated Kapp's drive. Gene Washington, who is 6'3" and fast, beat Jim Nettles on a crossing pattern for a first down on the Ram 33-yard line. Then, two plays later, Kapp hit Washington on the Ram four on a deep flag pattern. Three plays after that, Dave Osborn did a back dive from the one (see cover) for the score, and the conversion made it 7-7.
But the Rams, confident now of their ability to control the ball with short advances, scored twice more—on a 20-yard field goal by Bruce Gossett and on a two-yard Gabriel-to-Billy Truax pass—with the longest gain of the drives being only 18 yards.
Neither team made any sweeping changes during halftime. "There was a lot of loud talking in our dressing room," Truax said. "We were talking about the first half. No one mentioned we had another half to play. Then we went out and took things for granted."
The Viking dressing room was quiet and businesslike. The offensive and defensive teams met briefly as units, then Grant addressed the whole squad. "I'm surprised that they're taking the game to us," he said. "If you want to win, you have to take it to them. If you think you played well in that half, think again. You'll have to play much better to win."
The Vikings also decided to blitz more on first down, hoping to cut off the strong-side run, and they permitted the defensive linemen to play with more abandon and stunt on their own.
"The first series after the half is important," Truax said. "Offensively and defensively. We gained 12 yards on our first play, then we had a clipping penalty and we had to punt, and that seemed to fire them up. We never regained our momentum."
As Gabriel explained, "Ours is the type of offense that can't afford setbacks. Five yards at a time only works first and 10, not first and 25."
In the first series after the Rams' punt, Kapp threw a towering 41-yard pass to Washington, who took the ball away from Nettles on the Ram 12, fell, got up, lunged forward and was tackled by Jack Pardee. The officials, who were in no danger of being awarded a game ball by the Rams, ruled that Pardee had piled on, which put the Vikings on the Ram six. "There was no whistle," said the incensed Pardee later. "I was afraid the guy was going to jump up and score. I can't make decisions on whistles. I can just try to prevent touchdowns." Three plays later Osborn again dived over from the one to make it 17-14.
"We thought we could work on their cornerbacks," Kapp said. "The Rams give them a lot of responsibility and they don't get help from the safeties. I should have thrown deep early in the game, but I didn't mix it up enough in the first half."
"Kapp worked it out," John Henderson, the other Viking wide receiver, said. "We thought they might play us loose. Joe threw short passes under them, and when they came up to play us tight we knew we could beat them deep."