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1977- Rams denied by Vikings again

The 1977 season didn’t start off well for the Los Angeles Rams. Quarterback James Harris was sent to the San Diego Chargers for a 1979 fourth round pick after demanding a trade during the offseason. The Rams responded by picking up former Super Bowl quarterback Joe Namath to take his roster spot.

Namath was coming off a major knee injury, and it was the hope of owner Carroll Rosenbloom that he would bounce back and lead the team to a championship. Unfortunately, Namath’s lack of mobility limited his role with the team.

Namath started the first four games of the season and held a record of 2-2. He threw for 606 yards, three touchdowns and had five interceptions. Head coach Chuck Knox finally had enough and replaced Namath with second-year quarterback Pat Haden after the former New York Jets star put in a subpar effort against the Chicago Bears which resulted in a 24-23 loss.

Haden proved to be the more effective quarterback and led the team to eight wins in its final 10 games of the season. Haden put the league on notice when he led the Rams to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 24. Haden had one rushing touchdown and had two touchdown passes to tight end Charle Young and wide receiver Harold Jackson. The defense limited the Vikings to only three points and rookie DB Pat Thomas recorded two interceptions in the Rams’ 35-3 blowout victory.

The win over Minnesota served as a confidence booster for a Rams’ team that had struggled against the Vikings over the past few seasons.  The Rams defense continued its dominance as the season wore on,  especially when they hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Rams’ defense forced four turnovers, including LB Jim Youngblood’s 25-yard interception return for a touchdown in the team’s shutout 31-0 victory over the Bucs.  Thomas also had an interception in the game. Haden threw two touchdown passes to Jackson and RB Lawrence McCutcheon.

The Rams appeared unstoppable at times during the season, especially when they faced the Super Bowl champs, the Oakland Raiders. The Los Angeles defense continued its dominance by forcing four interceptions with DB Monte Jackson getting two of them.  Offensively, Haden found Jackson in the endzone late in the fourth quarter to lead the Rams to a 20-14 win.

The Rams captured their fifth straight division title and finished with a 10-4 season record. Once again, they qualified to face the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Rams’ regular season form against the Vikings didn’t follow them into the divisional round. The Minnesota defense held the Rams scoreless for much of the game. By the time Haden connected with Jackson late in the fourth quarter, it was too late. The Vikings held on to beat the Rams, 14-7.

A total of ten Pro Bowlers could not get the Rams to the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowlers included QB Pat Haden, RB Lawrence McCutcheon, WR Harold Jackson, T Doug France, G Tom Mack, C Rich Saul, DE Jack Youngblood, DT Larry Brooks, LB Isiah Robertson and DB Monte Jackson. Robertson was named NFC Linebacker-of-the-Year for the third consecutive season.

Season Notes

– The L.A. Memorial Coliseum reduced capacity from 91,038 to 71,039.

– Head coach Chuck Knox resigns after the season to take the head coaching vacancy with the Buffalo Bills.

– QB Pat Haden is named NFC Player-of-the-Year.

– The Rams drafted Ohio State University LB Bob Brudzinski in the first round (23rd overall) in the 1977 NFL Draft.

– Other notable players drafted were: Kansas University DB Nolan Cromwell (31st overall), UCLA RB Wendell Tyler (79th overall) and Nebraska QB Vince Ferragamo (91st overall).

1977 Los Angeles Rams
Week Date Opponent Score Record
1 Sunday, Sept. 18 @Atlanta Falcons L, 6-17 0-1
2 Sunday, Sept. 25 Philadelphia Eagles W, 20-0 1-1
3 Sunday, Oct. 2 San Francisco 49ers W, 34-14 2-1
4 Monday, Oct. 10 @Chicago Bears L, 23-24 2-2
5 Sunday, Oct. 16 New Orleans Saints W, 14-7 3-2
6 Monday, Oct. 24 Minnesota Vikings W, 35-3 4-2
7 Sunday, Oct. 30 @New Orleans Saints L, 26-27 4-3
8 Sunday, Nov. 6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W, 31-0 5-3
9 Sunday, Nov. 13 @Green Bay Packers W, 24-6 6-3
10 Sunday, Nov. 20 @San Francisco 49ers W, 23-10 7-3
11 Sunday, Nov. 27 @Cleveland Browns W, 9-0 8-3
12 Sunday, Dec. 4 Oakland Raiders W, 20-14 9-3
13 Sunday, Dec. 11 Atlanta Falcons W, 23-7 10-3
14 Sunday, Dec. 18 @Washington Redskins L, 14-17 10-4
1977 NFL Playoffs
Div. Playoffs Monday, Dec. 26 Minnesota Vikings L, 7-14 10-5

Photo Compliments of Sports Illustrated

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

Sources: Profootballreference.comStlouisrams.com


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