The 1979 NFC Championship was an offensive catastrophe
The 1979 NFC Championship Recreation was a enjoyable setup between a plucky upstart and a crew making an attempt to shed a label. Then the motion started.
Have you ever ever questioned what the dullest sport in NFL historical past is?
Contemplating the stakes, look no additional than the 1979 NFC Championship Recreation.
On Jan. 6, 1980, the Los Angeles Rams visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Rams, who entered the convention title sport as a 3.5-point favourite, had been a pedestrian 9-7 within the common season however received the NFC West. Within the Divisional spherical, Los Angeles ended Corridor of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach’s profession, going into Texas Stadium as a determined underdog and successful, 19-17.
For the whole lot of the Nineteen Seventies, the Rams had been labeled as chokers. Six instances they reached the playoffs and nary a Tremendous Bowl look. Going into the 1979 season, Los Angeles had misplaced in 4 of the earlier 5 NFC Championship Video games.
As for the Buccaneers, they had been making an attempt to change into one thing that they had by no means been: a winner.
Tampa Bay was an NFL enlargement crew in 1976 and went 0-26 throughout its first two seasons earlier than successful the ultimate two video games of its 1977 marketing campaign. After going 5-11 the next 12 months, the Buccaneers shocked the soccer world by successful the NFC Central.
And after beating the Philadelphia Eagles within the Divisional spherical, the second-seeded Buccaneers discovered themselves one house win away from Tremendous Bowl XIV towards the defending-champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a sport performed out of full desperation, each Tampa Bay and Los Angeles struggled mightily.
The Rams had backup quarterback Vince Ferragamo below heart, changing the injured Pat Haden. Ferragamo went 12-of-23 for 163 yards, stable numbers by the period’s requirements.
Then there was the mix of Buccaneers quarterbacks Doug Williams and Mike Rae. Williams went a grotesque 2-of-13 for 12 yards and an interception earlier than tearing his bicep. Rae got here in nearly assured to outperform Williams’ night, and he did.
Nonetheless, it was by a slim margin. Rae additionally went 2-of-13 however for 42 yards and with no turnover.
One way or the other, working again Jerry Eckwood tied for the crew lead in passing yards on this afternoon, throwing a halfback go for 42 yards on his solely try.
When you’d assume Tampa Bay’s epic offensive ineptitude would imply an embarrassing, blowout loss, that may be incorrect. That’s as a result of the Rams failed to attain a single landing all through, as a substitute scoring solely on a trio of Frank Corral discipline objectives from 19 and 21 yards within the second quarter, after which a merciful, clinching 23-yarder within the last interval.
All informed, the Rams outgained the Bucs by a 369-177 margin, amassing 23 first downs whereas solely permitting seven. And but for nearly the complete 60 minutes, Tampa Bay had a possibility to make one massive play and win.
Within the Tremendous Bowl period, it stays the one convention title sport to be performed with out both crew discovering the tip zone. It’s additionally the worst passing day any crew has suffered from its quarterbacks in a postseason sport over that span, with Williams and Rae combining to go 4-of-26 for 54 yards and an interception.
For the Rams, it was a Tremendous Bowl journey lengthy within the making. And, as a determined underdog two weeks later in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl towards Pittsburgh, Los Angeles led into the fourth quarter earlier than falling 31-19.
Nonetheless, the Rams lastly bought their Tremendous Bowl 20 years later, albeit positioned in St. Louis. Extremely, they as soon as once more confronted the Buccaneers within the NFC title sport and no person scored a landing till 4:44 remained in regulation, when St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner discovered receiver Ricky Proehl for the eventual game-winning 30-yard strike, giving the Rams an 11-6 victory. Once more, no touchdowns for Tampa Bay.
Three years later, hindered by a plodding passing assault, the Buccaneers lastly received their first title.
Nonetheless, the ’79 NFC Championship Recreation stays a seminal second for each franchises on a brisk January day in 1980. One proved it might win the sport no person believed it possessed the guts to emerge victors in, whereas the opposite confirmed it was now not a doormat just by taking part.
Sadly, the 60 minutes of soccer weren’t as dramatic because the storylines.