An Impressive First Title

Times Staff Writer

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had many battles over the years with Al Davis, the Oakland Raider owner and managing general partner. But even Rozelle had to admire Davis' work after the AFC champion Raiders toyed with the NFC champion Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, and won Super Bowl XI.

"I'm sorry the trophy isn't silver and black, but it's close," Rozelle said as he presented the silver Vince Lombardi Trophy to Davis at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 9, 1977. "Your victory was one of the most impressive in Super Bowl history."

The swashbuckling Raiders, 13-1 during the regular season, earned their first NFL championship in convincing fashion, gaining a record 429 yards to romp in front of a Super Bowl-record crowd of 103,438. After having lost the AFC title game five times and having lost their first Super Bowl appearance, in 1968, this victory was especially sweet for the Raiders.

Cornerback Willie Brown set a Super Bowl record with a 75-yard interception return in the fourth quarter, a play widely considered one of the most stunning in Super Bowl history. "I remember running back for that touchdown 75 yards and I remember dominating the Vikings," Brown said this week when asked about his fondest memories. "At that point in my life, it was one of the best things."

Errol Mann got Oakland on the board with a 24-yard field goal 48 seconds into the second quarter. After that came the deluge.

Quarterback Ken Stabler's one-yard pass to Dave Casper gave the Raiders a 10-0 lead. Pete Banaszak's one-yard dive and another field goal by Madd made it 19-0. Viking quarterback Fran Tarkenton finally got his team on the board with an eight-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Sammy White, but the Vikings got no closer.

Fred Biletnikoff was the MVP, though he had only four receptions for 79 yards. However, three of those catches were crucial to setting up Raider touchdowns.

Now the Raider receivers coach, Biletnikoff said the victory immediately brought to mind thoughts of past Raider teammates.

"During the period of time I came into football, there were a lot of older players from the AFL who didn't have a chance to go to the Super Bowl," he said. "We got to the Super Bowl and lost to Green Bay, and when we won, all those players who had played for us against Green Bay and got beat were no longer with us."

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