1973 Minnesota Vikings season
General managerJim Finks
Head coachBud Grant
Home fieldMetropolitan Stadium
Division place1st NFC Central
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs
(vs. Redskins) 27–20
Won NFC Championship
(at Cowboys) 27–10
Lost Super Bowl VIII
(vs. Dolphins) 7–24

The 1973 season was the Minnesota Vikings' 13th in the National Football League (NFL). With a 12–2 record, the Vikings regained the NFC Central title after having gone 7–7 the previous year. They started the season 9–0 and looked a threat to the previous year's Miami Dolphins' record of a perfect season before losing to the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals in their next three games. Their narrow 10–9 win over the Los Angeles Rams constituted the last time until 1997 that the last two unbeaten NFL teams played each other.[1]

The Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins 27–20 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at home and went on to upset the Dallas Cowboys 27–10 in Irving, Texas to win the NFC Championship, before losing 24–7 to the Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium in Houston.


1973 Draft

Main article: 1973 NFL draft

Pro Bowler
1973 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Overall
1 12 Chuck Foreman Running back Miami
2 34 Jackie Wallace Defensive back Arizona from Cardinals[a]
40 Traded to the New York Giants[b]
3 65 Jim Lash Wide receiver Northwestern
4 80 Mike Wells (quarterback) Quarterback Illinois from Eagles[c]
89 Traded to the Kansas City Chiefs[e] from Vikings[d] via Cardinals[a]
5 118 Brent McClanahan Running back Arizona State
6 139 Doug Kingsriter Tight end Minnesota from Saints[f]
143 Fred Abbott Linebacker Florida
7 168 Josh Brown Running back Texas State
8 196 Craig Darling Tackle Iowa
9 221 Larry Dibbles Defensive end New Mexico
10 236 Randy Lee Defensive back Tulane from Eagles[g]
246 Dave Mason Defensive back Nebraska
11 274 Geary Murdock Guard Iowa State
12 299 Alan Spencer Wide receiver Pittsburg State
13 324 Ron Just Guard Minot State
14 352 Eddie Bishop Defensive back Southern
15 377 Tony Chandler Running back Missouri Valley
16 402 Larry Smiley Defensive end Texas Southern
17 429 Dave Winfield Tight end Minnesota n/a[h]
^[a] The Vikings traded QB Gary Cuozzo to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for St. Louis' second- and fourth-round selections (34th and 89th overall), and WR John Gilliam.
^[b] The Vikings traded their second-round selection (40th overall), 1972 first-round selection (24th overall), QB Norm Snead, WR Bob Grim and RB Vince Clements to the New York Giants in exchange for QB Fran Tarkenton.
^[c] The Vikings traded QB Bill Cappleman to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Philadelphia's fourth-round selection (80th overall).
^[d] The Vikings traded their fourth-round selection (89th overall), LB Mike McGill and DB Dale Hackbart to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for TE Bob Brown and CB Nate Wright.
^[e] The Vikings traded their fourth-round selection (89th overall) to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for P Mike Eischeid.
^[f] The Vikings traded TE Bob Brown to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for New Orleans' sixth-round selection (139th overall) and 1974 fourth-round selection (86th overall).
^[g] The Vikings traded LB Bill Cody to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Philadelphia's 10th-round selection (236th overall).
^[h] Following college, Dave Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. The San Diego Padres selected him as an outfielder with the fourth overall pick in the 1973 Major League Baseball draft. In basketball, both the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) drafted him. Although he never played college football, the Minnesota Vikings selected Winfield in the 17th round of the NFL draft. He is currently one of three players ever to be drafted by three professional sports (the others being Dave Logan and Mickey McCarty).[2]


1973 Minnesota Vikings final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Rookies in italics
54 active, 4 inactive, 0 practice squad


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance[3]
1 August 11 Pittsburgh Steelers W 10–6 1–0 Metropolitan Stadium 46,619
2 August 18 at Kansas City Chiefs W 13–10 2–0 Arrowhead Stadium 72,676
3 August 25 at Oakland Raiders W 34–10 3–0 Memorial Stadium (Berkeley, CA) 57,515
4 August 31 Miami Dolphins W 20–17 4–0 Metropolitan Stadium 46,619
5 September 8 at San Diego Chargers W 24–16 5–0 San Diego Stadium 42,007

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 16 Oakland Raiders W 24–16 1–0 Metropolitan Stadium 44,818
2 September 23 at Chicago Bears W 22–13 2–0 Soldier Field 52,035
3 September 30 Green Bay Packers W 11–3 3–0 Metropolitan Stadium 48,176
4 October 7 at Detroit Lions W 23–9 4–0 Tiger Stadium 49,549
5 October 14 at San Francisco 49ers W 17–13 5–0 Candlestick Park 56,438
6 October 21 Philadelphia Eagles W 28–21 6–0 Metropolitan Stadium 47,478
7 October 28 Los Angeles Rams W 10–9 7–0 Metropolitan Stadium 47,787
8 November 4 Cleveland Browns W 26–3 8–0 Metropolitan Stadium 46,722
9 November 11 Detroit Lions W 28–7 9–0 Metropolitan Stadium 47,911
10 November 19 at Atlanta Falcons L 14–20 9–1 Atlanta Stadium 56,519
11 November 25 Chicago Bears W 31–13 10–1 Metropolitan Stadium 46,430
12 December 2 at Cincinnati Bengals L 0–27 10–2 Riverfront Stadium 57,859
13 December 8 at Green Bay Packers W 31–7 11–2 Lambeau Field 53,830
14 December 16 at New York Giants W 31–7 12–2 Yale Bowl 70,041


Game summaries

Week 1: vs. Oakland Raiders

Week 1: Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Raiders 0 13 3016
Vikings 10 0 7724

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 2: at Chicago Bears

Week 2: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 13 0922
Bears 7 3 0313

at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game information

Week 3: vs. Green Bay Packers

Week 3: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Packers 0 3 003
Vikings 0 5 3311

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 4: at Detroit Lions

Week 4: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 14 6 0323
Lions 3 3 309

at Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Michigan

  • Date: October 7
  • Game time: 3:00 p.m. CDT
  • Game weather: 61 °F (16 °C)
  • Game attendance: 49,549
  • Referee: Bob Frederic
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information

Week 5: at San Francisco 49ers

Week 5: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 7 7 0317
49ers 3 3 7013

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information

Week 6: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Week 6: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Eagles 0 7 7721
Vikings 7 7 7728

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 7: vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 7: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Rams 0 3 339
Vikings 3 7 0010

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 8: vs. Cleveland Browns

Week 8: Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Browns 3 0 003
Vikings 3 6 71026

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 9: vs. Detroit Lions

Week 9: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Lions 7 0 007
Vikings 7 7 14028

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 10: at Atlanta Falcons

Week 10: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 7 0714
Falcons 0 17 3020

at Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Game information

Week 11: vs. Chicago Bears

Week 11: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Bears 3 0 3713
Vikings 3 7 14731

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

The day of this game was declared "Karl Kassulke Day" in honor of former Viking safety Karl Kassulke, who was left paralyzed in a motorcycle accident just before the beginning of training camp. A wheelchair-bound Kassulke attended the game and shook hands with the players on the field at halftime.[6]

Week 12: at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 12: Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 0 000
Bengals 0 10 10727

at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Game information

Week 13: at Green Bay Packers

Week 13: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 14 14 3031
Packers 0 0 077

at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Game information

Week 14: at New York Giants

Week 14: Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 7 10 01431
Giants 0 0 077

at Yale Bowl, New Haven, Connecticut

  • Date: December 16
  • Game time: 12:00 p.m. CST
  • Game weather: 30 °F (−1 °C)
  • Game attendance: 70,041
  • Referee: John McDonough
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information


NFC Central
Minnesota Vikings 12 2 0 .857 6–0 10–1 296 168 W2
Detroit Lions 6 7 1 .464 3–2–1 6–4–1 271 247 L1
Green Bay Packers 5 7 2 .429 1–4–1 4–6–1 202 259 W1
Chicago Bears 3 11 0 .214 1–5 1–9 195 334 L6



Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
Divisional December 22, 1973 Washington Redskins W 27–20 1–0 Metropolitan Stadium 45,475
Conference December 30, 1973 at Dallas Cowboys W 27–10 2–0 Texas Stadium 60,272
Super Bowl VIII January 13, 1974 Miami Dolphins L 7–24 2–1 Rice Stadium 71,882

Game summaries

NFC Divisional Playoff: vs. Washington Redskins

NFC Divisional Playoff: Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Redskins 0 7 31020
Vikings 0 3 71727

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Minnesota scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13–10 deficit, including two touchdowns in a span of 1:05.

Both offenses struggled in the first quarter. The Vikings were completely unable to move the ball, finishing the quarter without any first downs, while Washington kicker Curt Knight missed two field goal attempts. One miss was from 49 yards and the other from 17, spoiling an impressive drive that saw the Redskins drive from their own 14 to inside the Vikings 10-yard line.

Minnesota finally managed to get rolling in the second quarter, with a 50-yard completion from Tarkenton to running back Oscar Reed setting up Fred Cox's 19-yard field goal. But with 3:30 left in the half, Vikings defensive back Bobby Bryant fumbled a punt return that was recovered by Redskins running back Bob Brunet on the Minnesota 21-yard line. Billy Kilmer then completed a 17-yard pass to Charley Taylor before Larry Brown scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Redskins a 7–3 lead. Minnesota responded with a drive into field goal range, but Mike Bass intercepted a pass from Tarkenton to maintain Washington's lead going into halftime.

The Vikings then took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 79 yards, including a 46-yard run by Reed, to score on fullback Bill Brown's 2-yard rushing touchdown. To make matters worse for Washington, star cornerback Pat Fischer suffered cracked ribs on the drive and was replaced by Speedy Duncan, an 11-year veteran who normally only played as a kick returner. Still, the Redskins managed to take back the lead with Knight's two third-quarter field goals, first tying a playoff record from 52 yards, and the second from 46 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter.[7]

Now facing a 13–10 fourth-quarter deficit, the Vikings stormed back with two quick touchdowns. First they drove 71 yards in 8 plays to score on Tarkenton's pass to John Gilliam, who beat single coverage by Duncan for a 28-yard touchdown catch. Then on the first play of Washington's ensuing drive, Nate Wright intercepted a pass from Kilmer and returned it 26 yards to the Redskins 8-yard line, setting up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tarkenton to Gilliam that made the score 24–13. With 5:28 left, Washington got back to within four points, getting good field position due to Ken Stone blocking a Vikings punt and converting it into Kilmer's 28-yard touchdown pass to Roy Jefferson. But the Vikings managed to burn up 4 minutes with their ensuing drive, finishing it off with a 30-yard Cox field goal that gave them a 27–20 lead. The Redskins had less than two minutes to drive for a tying touchdown, and ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Vikings 42-yard line.

Tarkenton completed 16/28 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Reed had 17 carries for 95 yards and caught four passes for 76. Brown rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown, while also catching two passes for 13 yards.

"Sometimes they’re not concentrating on me," said Oscar Reed, in reference to his big plays in the game. "Since early in the season they've been keying on Chuck Foreman. I'm not the world's greatest pass catcher or runner, but given a little room, I'll use what I've got."[8]

NFC Championship Game: at Dallas Cowboys

NFC Championship Game: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings 3 7 71027
Cowboys 0 0 10010

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

Game information

The Vikings forced four interceptions and recovered two fumbles in the second half while also holding Dallas to 152 total yards en route to a 27–10 victory over the Cowboys.

With the loss of running back Calvin Hill and defensive tackle Bob Lilly to injuries, Dallas' offense could not get anything going. Minnesota jumped to a 10–0 lead by halftime with a Fred Cox field goal and an 86-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Chuck Foreman. The touchdown drive included Fran Tarkenton's completions to tight end Stu Voigt for gains of 16 and 7 yards, a 2-yard run by Foreman on 4th-and-1, and a 12-yard scramble by Tarkenton himself.

What followed would be an amazingly sloppy second half in which both teams combined for 10 turnovers. Three minutes into the third quarter, Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach threw an interception to Bobby Bryant on the Vikings 2-yard line. But the Cowboys defense forced a punt and Golden Richards returned it 63 yards for a touchdown, cutting the score to 10–7. Tarkenton quickly struck back, throwing a 54-yard touchdown pass to John Gilliam, who managed to outrun single coverage by Cowboys future Hall of Fame defensive back Mel Renfro. Dallas responded with Toni Fritsch's 17-yard field goal which cut the lead to 17–10.

Then a wave of turnovers began. On the ensuing possession, Dallas got a huge opportunity to score when Charlie Waters forced a fumble from Foreman that safety Cliff Harris recovered on the Minnesota 37. However, the Vikings took the ball right back when Staubach threw a pass that was deflected into the arms of linebacker Jeff Siemon. An even better scoring chance awaited the Cowboys at the end of the Vikings' next drive, as Tarkenton threw an interception to Waters on the Minnesota 24. But Dallas fared no better this time, losing the ball again when Jim Marshall knocked it out of Staubach's hand as he wound up for a pass, and defensive lineman Gary Larsen recovered it. The offensive futility continued with Minnesota, as their next drive ended with a fumbled handoff exchange between Tarkenton and Foreman that Dallas lineman Larry Cole recovered on the Vikings 47-yard line.

A few plays later, Dallas faced 3rd-and-3 with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Staubach attempted a pass to Bob Hayes near the right sideline, but Bryant intercepted the pass and raced 63 yards for a touchdown that put the Vikings up 24–10. Then on Dallas' next drive, Staubach tried to connect with Drew Pearson, but a devastating hit by Nate Wright caused the ball to bounce off his hands and into the arms of defensive back Jeff Wright, who returned the ball 13 yards to set up Cox's 34-yard game clinching field goal.[9]

Both teams combined for a net total of just 163 passing yards. Tarkenton completed only 10/21 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown with one interception, while also rushing for 16 yards. Staubach had one of the worst postseason performances of his career, completing just 10/21 passes for 89 yards and throwing four interceptions, though he did rush for 30 yards. Foreman was the top offensive performer of the day with 76 rushing yards and four receptions for 28, while fullback Oscar Reed added 18 carries for 75 yards and an 8-yard catch.

Super Bowl VIII: vs. Miami Dolphins

Main article: Super Bowl VIII

Super Bowl VIII: Minnesota Vikings vs. Miami Dolphins – Game summary
Period 1 2 34Total
Vikings (NFC) 0 0 077
Dolphins (AFC) 14 3 7024

at Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas

Game information


Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
Passing yards Fran Tarkenton 2,113
Passing touchdowns Fran Tarkenton 15
Rushing yards Chuck Foreman 801
Rushing touchdowns Chuck Foreman 4
Receiving yards John Gilliam 907
Receiving touchdowns John Gilliam 8
Points Fred Cox 96
Kickoff return yards Brent McClanahan 410
Punt return yards Bobby Bryant 140
Interceptions Bobby Bryant 7

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 26)
Passing offense 1,956 139.7 14th
Rushing offense 2,275 162.5 6th
Total offense 4,231 302.2 7th
Passing defense 1,894 135.3 12th
Rushing defense 1,974 141.0 11th
Total defense 3,868 276.3 12th


  1. ^ "Last Undefeated NFL teams by Year". Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  2. ^ The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks Baseball Club – "Home of Midnight Sun Baseball"
  3. ^ "1973 Minnesota Vikings (NFL) - Pro Football Archives".
  4. ^ 1973 Minnesota Vikings highlight film
  5. ^ 1973 Minnesota Vikings highlight film
  6. ^ "Karl's Day". Ocala Star-Banner. November 26, 1973. p. 16. Retrieved November 12, 2022.
  7. ^ "Today in Pro Football History: 1973: Vikings Defeat Redskins in NFC Divisional Playoff Game". 22 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Today in Pro Football History: 1973: Vikings Defeat Redskins in NFC Divisional Playoff Game". 22 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Chicago Tribune - Historical Newspapers".