Bud Grant exploited today his reputation as a conservative, unimaginative loser of four Super Bowl games to outslick the big-city visitors here.
It took an overtime period to set up the Chicago Bears for what the Minnesota Viking coach called "The Sting." The Bears, particularly right cornerback Virgin Livers, were not the only ones fooled by the play that won the game, 22-16.
A crowd of 47,708 in Metropolitan Stadium sat in stunned silence for several seconds after ballholder Paul Krause rose up and threwan 11-yard touchdown pass to Stu Voigt after Fred Cox went through with a fake 29-yard field-goal attempt on first down, with 8 minutes 15 seconds remaining in the sudden-death period.
Among those taken in by the sneaky tactic was Fran Terkenton, who had taken the Vikings 69 yards to the Chicago 11-yard line, after the Bears won the coin toss, received and were forced by Alan Page's sack of quarter-back Bob Avellini to punt from the Bear 29 without having managed a first down.
After Chuck Foreman gained four yards on third and three for a first down at the Chicago 11, Tarkenton saw the the Viking field goal team coming onto the field. He called a time-out, and it was thought he was going to try to persuade Grant to change his mind and go for another first down or touchdown.
Not so, Grant said. "He called time-out to stop the clock, but he didn't even know what we were going to do." Was Tarkenton upset?
"You better ask him," Grant said. "I didn't."
Why didn't Cox kick instead of faking to kick?
That was 'The Sting,'" Grant said, referring to the movie of the same name.
Why on first down?
"It seemed like the right time."
What if Krause's pass had been intercepted?
"I told Paul that if the receiver was open to throw the ball; if not to throw the ball out bounds. I talked to Paul, Stu, (tight end) Steve Craig and Cox on the sideline well before that about such a play in case the situation came up. We would have kicked before fourth down if the pass play had failed, anyhow.
"Craig was not open in the middle, but Volght was. So was Jeff Siemon (who lined up as a blocker on the right wing and reported in as an eligible receiver before the play).
"Krause actually has a bad throwing arm; he hurt it playing baseball in college." Krause was a quarterback at Iowa.
Grant said he could not recall using the play before, but he noted the Vikings had worked on it for the past 10 years.
It was mentioned to Grant that it was a shame that the game was not onnational television so the play could have been seen by more people.
"It will be," he said, roguishly.
The victory kept the Vikings atop the NFC Central with a 4-1 record. The Bears slipped to 2-3.
It is not that rare a play. Two other teams tried it today and the Bears defeated the Redskins in 1971 on a pass for a conversion after an extra-point kick attempt was fouled up.
Coach Jack Pardee of the Bears noted, "We had the receiver (Craig) they wanted to throw to covered by cornerback Ken Ellis."
But Livers admitted he was surprised. It was Livers who broke up a pass to wide receiver Ahmad Rashad of the Vikings in the end zone near the end of the fourth quarter that kept Minnesota from winning in regulation time and sent the contest into overtime.
Viking linebacker Matt Blair blocked a 41-yard field-goal attempt by Bob Thomas with 1:41 to play and knocked down an extra-point attempt in the second quarter. Either kick would have won the game.
Left linebacker Doug Buffone said of the Bear's all-out charge to try to block the expected field goal in the extra quarter, "when they get you in that situation at the Chicago 11 you've got to rush the kicker."
Krause admitted his primary target was Craig, who lined up on the right end of the line and headed toward the center of the end zone. Voight lined up at the left end of the line and crossed over to the right side of the end zone. Livers followed him, ending up about five yards away from Voight. Siemon, the blocker on the right wing, went to the right flat, where he was wide open too.
"I almost threw to Craig," Krause said, "but I saw Voigt was open. I remembered that the coach said if nobody was open to throw out of bounds.
"I'm pretty sure Chicago was surprised I don't think a lot of people thought of the possibility of such a play. Even if the Bears tackled me we still would have had the ball and three more downs.
"We couldn't get Francis (Tarkenton) off the field (referring to the quarterback wanting to try to move the ball closer (or for a touchdown)."
Craig could have ended up the goat. It was fourth and 32 for the Bears on their 23-yard line in the fourth quarter when Craig was charged with running into the punter.
Given a first down on his 28, Avellini took the Bears to the Minnesota 24, where Thomas attempted his 41-yard fieldgoal that would have won the game. Page helped Blair block the kick.