New York Jets
August 30, 1969
JET PASSES HELP TOP VIKES, 24-21
Namath Connects Twice for Touchdowns and Turner Kicks Key Field Goal
By Dave Anderson
Special to The N«w York Times
WINSTON-SALEM, N. C. Aug. 30- Two touchdown passes by Joe Namath, a 15-yard field goal by Jim Turner and a determined defensive unit produced a 24-21 victory for the New York Jets over the Minnesota Vikings tonight before a standing room crowd of 31,500 at Groves Stadium.
Namath collaborated with Don Maynard on a 76-yard maneuver and with George Sauer on an 111-yard play.
The other Jet touchdown was scored by John Elliott, the omnipresent defensive tackle, after Paul Crane had blocked King Hill's punt at the 2-yard line. Elliott also collared the Viking quarterback, Gary Cuozzo, twice in the first half in another impressive performance.
For the Jets, the triumph was their third against two losses in the preseason schedule, and their second in these games with National Football League opponents. They routed the New York Giants, 37-14, but they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. 13-6.
For the Vikings, whom Namath had described as "maybe the best team in the N.F.L.", it was their first preseason loss after three victories. The defending Central Division title holders had defeated the Miami Dolphins, 45-10, the Denver Broncos, 25-6, and the Cardinals, 41-13.
But perhaps the most significant developments for the Jets involved two rookies- Al Woodall, the quarterback from Duke, and Steve O'Neal, the punter from Texas A&M. After the Vikings had closed to within three points on two touchdown runs by Dave Osborn against a mixture of Jet defensive regulars and irregulars, Woodall guided the Jet offensive irregulars to five first downs in a 67-yard drive over the final nine minutes.
Late in the third quarter, Namath was rested after having guided the Jets to a 24-7 lead. Significantly, he was at his best after being tackled for a 10-yard loss by Carl Eller, the huge Viking defensive end, at the Jets' 23.
From there, Namath completed seven of nine passes for 79 yards, attaining four first downs with third down passes, including the touchdown bullet to Sauer on a slant-in pattern after a holding penalty against John Schmitt, the Jet center, had jeopardized the touchdown opportunity.
During the first half, the Jets offensive unit had outgained the Vikings, 207 yards to 65 as Namath completed six of 14 passes for 140 yards, including the collaboration with Maynard on the 76-yard touchdown play. For the game, Namath completed 13 of 24 for 219 yards.
For the first time this season, Namath was tackled for a loss while attempting to pass by Eller in the second half and earlier by Alan Page, the huge tackle from Notre Dame. During the first half the Jet offense stalled six times, prompting the repeated use of O'Neal as a punter. Except for the Viking touchdown on the O'Neal blocked punt, their only scoring opportunities prior to the intermission were two field goal attempts (from the 47 and the 48).
Woodall, apparently assuring himself the job as the No. 3 quarterback behind Namath and Vito (Babe) Parilli, completed three of four passes for 24 yards and also scrambled up the middle on a 14-yard run for a timely first down. He engineered a mature 15-play drive.
O'Neal, who has replaced Curley Johnson in the heart of coach Weeb Ewbank, if not in the hearts of the experienced Jet players, produced a 47-yard average on six punts. He had another blocked resulting in a Viking touchdown, but Ewbank is not likely to blame him.
Jim Hargrove, a Viking linebacker, swooped by Paul Crane, the Jet center, and past Lee White, who was O'Neal's last bodyguard, to block the punt at the Jets' 10-yard line. Wally Hildenberg, another linebacker, scooped up the ball and raced into the end zone.
O'Neal's punts were for 51, 46, 40, 38, 54 and 32 yards, with a total return of only 5 yards.
For the Vikings, who used Cuozzo throughout the game at quarterback because of Joe Kapp's sprained knee, their offense was unable to establish any threatening drives until Ewbank began substituting in the second half. Cuozzo finished with 15 of 32 passes for 186 yards.
NY- Maynard 76 yard pass from Namath (Turner kick)
NY- FG Turner 15
MINN- Hilgenberg 15 yard return of blocked punt (Cox kick)
NY- Elliot 2 yard return of blocked punt (Turner kick)
NY- Sauer 11 yard pass from Namath (Turner kick)
MINN- Osborn 1 yard run (Cox kick)
MINN- Osborn 12 yard run (Cox kick)