Super Bowl VIII marked the third straight appearance in the championship game for the Miami Dolphins who won Super Bowl VII to finish off the only perfect 17-0 season in NFL history. The Dolphins began the 1973 season with a win over the San Francisco 49ers, but then fell to the Oakland Raiders in game two, halting their record-tying streak of 18 consecutive victories. They lost again to the Baltimore Colts in the 11th game of the year, but finished the regular season with a 12-2 record heading into the playoffs. Convincing victories over the Cincinnati Bengals (34-16) in the divisional playoff and Oakland Raiders (27-10) in the AFC Conference Championship Game punched their ticket to Super Bowl VIII. The NFC Champion Minnesota Vikings also posted a 12-2 regular season record heading into the playoffs. Across the field, the Vikes were returning to the NFL title game for the first time since Super Bowl IV with the help of one of the first true scrambling in the NFL in Fran Tarkenton and the potent defense known as "The Purple People Eaters." Tarkenton had rushed for 202 yards and one touchdown during the regular season and was an exceptional escape artist, from side-to-side, when evading would-be pass rushers. Minnesota's playoff run took them past the Washington Redskins (27-20) in the divisional playoff and then the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Conference Championship Game (27-10). Dallas and Washington were participants in the previous two Super Bowls, respectively.
The game was played on January 13, 1974 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas becoming the first Super Bowl to be played in a venue that wasn't the current home of an NFL franchise. (The Houston Oilers moved from Rice Stadium to the Astrodome in 1968.) Miami employed the same tactics to confuse the Vikings that the Kansas City Chiefs had used in Super Bowl IV and kept Minnesota on their heels unable to attack the Dolphins on offense or defense. Larry Csonka began the scoring with a 5-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter and Jim Kiick added another score on a one-yard run, also in the first. Miami placekicker Garo Yepremian added a field goal in the second quarter leading the Dolphins into the locker room with a 17-0 lead. Csonka added his second touchdown of the game in a handoff from Bob Griese in the third quarter to increase the lead to 24-0. The Vikes struggled mightily to game momentum, but were unsuccessful even though they were able to score on a 4-yard Tarkenton rushing TD in the fourth. After scoring two touchdowns and rushing for a Super Bowl-record 145 yards, Larry Csonka was named the Super Bowl VIII Most Valuable Player. On a side note, this was the last Super Bowl in which the field goal uprights were located in the front of the end zone.