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KAPPING THE BROWNS
Tex Maule
January 12, 1970
Whether they went by air or on the ground. Joe Kapp's Vikings met little resistance from Cleveland, whom they beat 27-7, Now, in the Super Bow, Minnesota must deal with the tough Kansas City defense
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January 12, 1970

Kapping The Browns

Whether they went by air or on the ground. Joe Kapp's Vikings met little resistance from Cleveland, whom they beat 27-7, Now, in the Super Bow, Minnesota must deal with the tough Kansas City defense

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"I wouldn't change our game plan if we played again tomorrow," said the stubborn Skorich. "When Kapp threw his ruptured ducks they came back and caught them, which we didn't do. I think we might have been a little too cautious in the first half and we didn't execute as well as I would have liked us to on the third-down play, but we did what we thought we could do."

In the second half the Browns executed somewhat better, especially after Lonnie Warwick, the Vikings' middle linebacker, left the game in the third period with a twisted ankle. Warwick had been dropping back in zone coverage to cut Paul Warfield and Gary Collins off from the quick shots over the middle, and Warfield hadn't caught a pass. The Vikings got the idea for this double coverage on the weak side watching the Cleveland-Dallas game on TV. When Warwick went out the zone coverage broke down a bit and Nelsen found War-field and Collins for key gains in the Browns' only touchdown march of the day, which concluded with a three-yard pass to Collins.

By then it was all over—or almost. With 12 seconds left to play and the unruly vanguard of the crowd encroaching on the field, the Vikings had the ball on the Cleveland two. According to Kapp, the referee asked him whether he wanted to go to the locker room or try to get off one more play. Snapped Kapp, "We're going to score again," and he went back to the huddle and told his teammates, "We're going to score again." No they weren't. Mysteriously the gun went off and the crowd poured on the field and battered Kapp on the helmet with so many love taps that he was in danger of getting concussed. One group of determined fans also managed to make off with a piece of a goalpost. Now what are they all going to do with 20 feet of metal pipe?

Jim Marshall knew what the Vikings had to do. "We had to lean on the Browns or they would have run us out of the stadium," he said. "We knew we had to play on their side of the line. This is a punishing game and you have to punish people if you want to win. You have to hit people. That's what you have to do. Not intimidate people. Dominate. You have to dominate them."

After the game Kapp, the most dominating Viking of them all, sat in the dressing room surrounded by writers and broadcasters, toying with a bottle of champagne he had confidently bought the day before. He shook the bottle and sprayed everyone in range, then laughed and hollered, "Me colorful." From the back of the room a Viking yelled, "Joe Kapp has soul." Kapp grinned and yelled back, "And a sore body." Then he said, "You'll never believe this, but once, when I was in college, I missed the hand-off to a back and followed him into the hole. I ran 92 yards for a touchdown and when I got to the 20-yard line I looked back for a flag. I figured the officials would be calling delay of the game."

"You made a beautiful fake on the bootleg in the fourth period when you ran 19 yards," a reporter told him and Kapp laughed, his round, dark face lighting up.

"Hey," he said. "That's the first time anyone ever accused me of making a beautiful fake."

"Is it true you throw the ball without putting your fingers on the laces?" someone else asked, and Kapp smiled hugely again.

"What good would it do?" he asked.

"Does it bother you that some people have written that you aren't a classic quarterback?" another reporter asked.

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