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Vikings Top Rams in Minnesota as QB Tarkenton Shines

Nov. 4, 1963 - Fran Tarkenton paced a Minnesota rally for two quick touchdowns early in the second half, and the Vikings went on to defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 21-13, at Metropolitan Stadium yesterday. Tarkenton completed 5 passes in as many attempts for 54 yards in directing a 71-yard Viking scoring drive to open the second half. The score gave Minnesota the lead, 14-10, as Tarkenton passed 10 yards to Jerry Reichow for the touchdown. The Rams scored in the first period on Carver Shannon’s 99-yard return of a kickoff. The other Ram points came on field goals by Danny Villaneuva. The game snapped a four-game Viking losing streak and stopped the Rams from winning 3 straight for the first time since 1958. The Viking defense snarled the Rams’ running game, recovered fumbles that led to two touchdowns, and badgered young Roman Gabriel often enough to minimize a Rame aerial game that otherwise might have rescued Los Angeles when the game was still up for grabs. None stood taller than jumbo defensive tackle Jim Prestel and rookie defensive end Don Hultz, the Mississippi swamp hunter who grappled and clawed to steal a fumble at the Ram four in what was perhaps the critical play of the game. Afterward, Viking head coach Norm Van Brocklin (right) lit a cigarette and blew a content oval. “Our defense,” he said, “just played a hell of a game. You name the guys. They all did it. Our guys shut them out except for two field goals. Yes, they had that 99-yard kickoff runback. But you can’t really charge that to the defensive unit.” In Tarkenton’s view, the game turned on the Vikings’ ability to make third down plays in the second half. “Jerry Reichow was grabbing those short passes beautifully,” said Fran. “And Tommy Mason and Bill Brown were running. When you know you can move like that, the offense just falls into place, and you’ve got your rhythm back.” The Los Angeles locker room was considerably quieter. “It’s a matter of mental sharpness,” claimed Merlin Olsen, the Rams’ 275-pound tackle. “We’re a club that can’t afford to give away touchdowns, yet we fumble to allow the Vikings an easy score, and we lose one of our own touchdowns with a holding penalty.” Jon Arnett, the halfback who was held out with a knee injury, probed further. “Every club in the NFL makes mistakes,” said Jon. “Some, like Green Bay, can overcome them. Others cannot. The line between a winning and losing team is very thin.” Roosevelt Grier, the 290-pound defensive tackle, was asked if he felt the Rams’ rush on Tarkenton was as effective as it was two weeks ago in Los Angeles. “I thought Tarkenton had more time today than he should have,” Grier replied. “But he gives you a bad time back there. He’s tough to pin down.”


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