The Los Angeles Rams of 1974 accomplished many good things in 1974 but the dream of going to New Orleans fell short on a cold December afternoon came to a heartbreaking end in Minnesota. In the 1974 NFC Championship game with it the dream of a Super Bowl appearance fell short after the 14-10 defeat to Minnesota. But overall the team won the NFC West for the second consecutive season and won its first playoff game since 1951. In addition the Rams made a smooth transition from the opening day starting quarterback John Hadl and his trade to Green Bay to James Harris. This is a look back at four classics from the 1974 season.
October 27, 1974 Los Angeles 20 New York Jets 13 at Shea Stadium Flushing Meadow, New York: Instead of an easy time in their first regular season visit to Shea Stadium the Rams had to battle to the end to hold off the reeling Jets, Trailing 13-6 after three quarters the Rams tied it up early in the fourth quarter on a 23 yard Lawrence McCutcheon run making it thirteen all. Thirty-one seconds after tying the game defensive back Charlie Stukes picked off a Joe Namath and brought it back 41 yards to the Jets 1. McCutcheon bolted in from the one to give the Rams the lead. The Jets made one final attempt at a tie when Namath drove them into Rams territory but was stuffed again. On fourth and five Rams Safety Steve Preece picked off a Namath pass to ice the victory. Rams quarterback James Harris scored on a 12 yard run to give the Rams a 6-0 after the first quarter. In the second quarter Mike Adamle scored from the two making it 7-6 New York at halftime. In the third quarter Emerson Boozer of the Jets made the score 13-6 but kicker Greg Gant missed the extra point.
November 4, 1974 Los Angeles 15 San Francisco 13 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA: In front of a national television audience the Rams flew up to San Francisco to take on their arch rivals. The Rams remained in control of this game throughout building a 15-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Behind a James Harris to Bob Klein 23 yard scoring pass along with a Tony Baker one yard scoring plunge in the first quarter keyed the Rams on offense. Field goal kicker David Ray chipped in a 20 yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Ray would also miss two extra points in the game which kept the 49ers in it. Through three quarters all the 49ers could muster on offense was two Bruce Gossett field goals of 46 and 31 yards respectively. Newly acquired quarterback Norm Snead who arrived in a trade from the Giants got the 49ers back in the game when he hit Gene Washington on a 39 yard scoring strike to make it a two point game. Snead had replaced starting quarterback Tom Owen earlier in the second half. With 4:09 left in the game Snead through an interception to Rams linebacker Isiah Robertson to allow the Rams to ice game.
November 24, 1974 Los Angeles 20 Minnesota 17 at The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: In a battle between NFC heavyweights the Rams staged a fourth quarter comeback to steal one from the Vikings. Minnesota lead 17-6 going into the fourth quarter thanks to two Chuck Foreman touchdowns and a 36 yard Fred Cox field goal in a seventeen point second quarter. Foreman scored from a yard out and then on 12 yard pass reception from quarterback Fran Tarkenton. The Rams scored in the second quarter on James Harris scoring plunge but missed the extra point. In the fourth quarter Harris scored again from a yard out to make it 17-13. With 1:14 remaining in the game Harris hit wide receiver Jack Snow from 8 yards out for the winning score. Despite both teams finishing with same record and Los Angeles winning the regular season battle Minnesota still got to host The NFC Championship Game. Till 1974 the NFL rotated playoff homes despite record except for the Wild Card team.
NFC Divisional Playoffs December 22, 1974 Los Angeles 19 Washington 10 at The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Los Angeles, CA: Thirteen days after Washington came into Los Angeles and won 23-17 to clinch a playoff spot these teams met again. This in a defensive battle between the teams it was a defensive play by the Rams to allow the Rams to clinch the victory. An Isiah Robertson interception of a Sonny Jurgensen pass that Robertson brought back for a pick six clinched the victory. Jurgensen replaced starting quarterback Billy Kilmer in the second half threw three second half interceptions in a failed attempt to rally Washington. Washington’s only points came in the first half on a 35 yard Mike Bragg field goal and a one yard scoring plunge from Moses Denson. While the Rams only first half score came on a James Harris to Bob Klein scoring pass of ten yards. Washington led 10-7 at halftime. In the second half Rams kicker David Ray kicked field goals of 37 and 26 yards to give the Rams a 13-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.
1974 Los Angeles Rams John Schaefer