Super Bowl IX was defined by a monumental defensive theme. It was not just the Vikings vs. the Steelers, per se. An underlying rivalry was forged between the Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain.
The game defining question was not who could score the most points, as it is in most any other sporting event. Super Bowl IX was defined by a question of endurance: which offense could outlast the relentless assault of the opposing defense the longest.
This question was answered harshly halfway into the second quarter, when Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton was downed in his own endzone by Dwight White for a safety. The Vikings never recovered from that blow, failing to score a single touchdown and letting the Steelers score 14 more points in a 16-6 loss.
The rest is history.
And as they say, history repeats itself. We have waited a long time for such an epic rivalry to resurface, and in 2009, history is knocking at the door.
As cross-conference rivals, the Vikings and Steelers seldom get an opportunity at regular season action. The last meeting of these two teams was in 2005, when the Steelers boasted a fourth place overall defense, while the Vikings suffered at 21st. Pittsburgh won that game by a score of 18-3.
The Vikings have never had a great history when facing Pittsburgh. In fact, the last time Minnesota beat the Steelers in the regular season was a 44-24 victory in September of 1995. Even then, Pittsburgh finished the season ranked second in overall rush defense, while the Vikings trailed shortly behind in fourth.
This 2009 showdown marks a whole new era, however. Coming off a season when the Purple People Eaters stuffed the line, allowing only a remarkable 76.9 yards per game—a league best—Minnesota is finally in a position to once again challenge the Steel Curtain head-on for redemption.
For Minnesota, it will be no easy task, however. The Steelers last season came in a very close second in rushing yards allowed, averaging 80.2 yards per game. Both Minnesota and Pittsburgh allowed just 3.3 yards per carry.
This is where history repeats itself: in a new age where Super Bowl Champion Steel Curtain looks to defend its title, both historically and symbolically, against an underdog that has been heralded as on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth for the last couple of years.
Look for a grueling reinvention of Super Bowl IX as the new age Purple People Eaters challenge the seasoned Super Bowl veteran Steel Curtain in a grudge match where the man who built the Vikings defense now holds the reins of the Pittsburgh Steelers.