The Los Angeles Rams remember.
They remember 1974. When the Minnesota Vikings knocked them out of the Supper Bowl with a 14-10 victory. It was the same sad story a year ago in sub-zero weather when Minnesota won, 24-13, for a trip to the Super Bowl.
"We owe the Vikings something," said Los Angeles defensive end Fred Dryer. "They've made my offseason miserable once too often."
The Rams say the best cure for three years of insomnia will be a victory Monday in Los Angeles, when they meet the Vikings in a first-round NFC playoff game (6 p.m. EST, WTOP-TV.9).
The oddsmakers favor the Rams by nine points, mostly because the Vikings' main boggie man, quarterback Francis Tarkenton, will not be able to generate any more nightmarish big plays for a Viking team that is crippled without him.
Tarkenton's broken ankle is still mending in a cast, and he will be replaced Monday by 32-year-old veteran Bob Lee. Though Lee was able to lead his team past Detroit last Saturday night, the Lions are not the Rams.
Even Tarkenton had difficulty moving the ball against Los Angeles when the teams met in the regular season. The Rams triumped, 35-3, on a Monday night, and Minnesota gained only 216 yards.
That game also convinced Ram coach Chuck Knox to stick with young Pat Haden at quarterback ahead of Joe Namath, a most propitious decision.
Haden directed the Rams to six victories in their last seven games, and finished as the No. 2-ranked passer in the NFL.
Despite a dreadful performance against the Redskins last Saturday, Haden finished the regular season with 58 per cent accuracy, 11 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions.
Haden has all manner of weapons with which to attack the Vikings. Lawrence McCutcheon set a team rushing with 1,238 yards and the Redskins would be the first team to tell you his back-up rookie Wendell Tyler is, no slouch, either.
Wide receiver Harold Jackson is the big-play man, with 48 catches, six for touchdowns. And Haden often throws to his backs.
The Rams defense suffered a major loss last week in Washington when free safety Bill Simpson injured his knee. Simpson, who had six interceptions before his season ended, will be replaced by rookie Nolan Cromwell.
The Rams allowed only 146 points this season, the second fewest in the NEL, and were ranked fourth in the conference in total defense, second against the run and eighth against the pass.
Lee will need a lot of help from his most valuable asset, running back Chuck Foreman, if the Vikings hope to have any success offensively.
Foreman gained 1,112 yards rushing, his third straight 1,000 yard year, and caught 38 passes. But the Rams held him to 35 yards and two cathches in the regular-season game.
Lee also will be throwing often at Ahmad Rashad (51 catches) and Sammy White (41) and hoping his offensive line can hold out a Ram front four that posted 36 sacks this season.