1961 Minnesota Vikings season

1961 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coach Norm Van Brocklin
General manager Bert Rose
Home field Metropolitan Stadium
Results
Record 3–11
Division place 7th NFL Western
Playoff finish did not qualify

The 1961 season was the Minnesota Vikings' first in the National Football League after being created as an expansion franchise. Under head coach Norm Van Brocklin, the team finished with a 3–11 record. The team's first ever regular season game was a 37–13 victory against their divisional rivals, the Chicago Bears; in that game, rookie quarterback Fran Tarkenton came off the bench to toss four touchdown passes and run for another.

The Vikings' defense surrendered 5.41 rushing yards per attempt in 1961, the fifth-most of all time.[1]

Offseason

Although the NFL originally had no interest in expanding, after Max Winter and Bill Boyer agreed to start an American Football League (AFL) franchise in Minnesota, the NFL approached them to change leagues. The "Vikings" name was given to the team by Ole Haugsrud, who had been given a 10% stake in the franchise as a result of having sold the Duluth Eskimos back to the league in the 1920s.[2]

1961 Draft

Pro Bowler
Pro Football Hall of Famer
1961 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College
Round Overall
11 Tommy Mason Running back Tulane
215 Rip Hawkins Linebacker North Carolina
329 Fran Tarkenton Quarterback Georgia
443 Chuck Lamson Safety Wyoming
557 Ed Sharockman Cornerback Pittsburgh
671 Jerry Burch End Georgia Tech
785 Allan Ferrie End Wagner
899 Paul Lindquist Defensive tackle New Hampshire
9113 Dan Sheehan Offensive tackle Tennessee-Chattanooga
10127 Doug Mayberry Fullback Utah State
11141 Jerry Mays Defensive tackle Southern Methodist
12155 Steve Stonebreaker Linebacker Detroit
13169 Ray Hayes Fullback Central State
14183 Ken Petersen Offensive lineman Utah
15197 Mike Mercer Kicker Arizona State
16211 Ted Karpowicz Running back Detroit
17225 Willie Jones Fullback Purdue
18239 Bob Voigt Offensive tackle Cal State-Los Angeles
19253 Bill Hill Fullback Presbyterian
20267 Mike McFarland Quarterback Western Illinois

1961 Expansion Draft

Player name Position College Acquired from
Grady Alderman Guard Detroit Mercy Detroit Lions
Tom Barnett Running back Purdue Pittsburgh Steelers
Byron Beams Tackle Notre Dame Pittsburgh Steelers
Ken Beck Defensive tackle Texas A&M Green Bay Packers
Bill Bishop Defensive tackle North Texas State Chicago Bears
Don Boll Offensive tackle Nebraska New York Giants
Ed Culpepper Defensive tackle Alabama St. Louis Cardinals
Don Ellersick Defensive back Washington State Los Angeles Rams
Dick Haley Defensive back Pittsburgh Washington Redskins
Gerry Huth Guard Wake Forest Philadelphia Eagles
Charlie Janerette Guard Penn State Los Angeles Rams
Gene Johnson Defensive back Cincinnati Philadelphia Eagles
Don Joyce Defensive end Tulane Baltimore Colts
Bill Kimber End Florida State New York Giants
Bill Lapham Center Iowa Philadelphia Eagles
Hugh McElhenny Running back Washington San Francisco 49ers
Dave Middleton End Auburn Detroit Lions
Jack Morris Defensive back Oregon Pittsburgh Steelers
Rich Mostardi Defensive back Kent State Cleveland Browns
Fred Murphy End Georgia Tech Cleveland Browns
Clancy Osborne Linebacker Arizona State San Francisco 49ers
Dick Pesonen Defensive back Minnesota-Duluth Green Bay Packers
Mike Rabold Guard Indiana St. Louis Cardinals
Perry Richards End Detroit Mercy St. Louis Cardinals
Bill Roehnelt Linebacker Bradley Washington Redskins
Karl Rubke Linebacker USC San Francisco 49ers
Gene Selawski Offensive tackle Purdue Cleveland Browns
Glenn Shaw Fullback Kentucky Chicago Bears
Lebron Shields Defensive tackle Tennessee Baltimore Colts
Zeke Smith Linebacker Auburn Baltimore Colts
Jerry Stalcup Linebacker Wisconsin Los Angeles Rams
Louis Stephens Guard San Francisco Washington Redskins
Charlie Sumner Defensive back William & Mary Chicago Bears
Dave Whitsell Defensive back Indiana Detroit Lions
Paul Winslow Running back North Carolina Central Green Bay Packers
Frank Youso Offensive tackle Minnesota New York Giants

Roster

1961 Minnesota Vikings final roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists



Practice squad



Rookies in italics
53 Active, 5 Inactive, 5 Practice squad

Preseason

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 August 5 Dallas Cowboys L 13–38 0–1 Howard Wood Field (Sioux Falls, SD) 4,954
2 August 18 at Baltimore Colts L 3–13 0–2 Memorial Stadium 10,203
3 August 26 at San Francisco 49ers L 10–14 0–3 Multnomah Stadium (Portland, OR) 27,044
4 September 2 Chicago Bears L 7–30 0–4 Kingston Stadium (Cedar Rapids, IA) 12,500
5 September 10 Los Angeles Rams L 17–21 0–5 Metropolitan Stadium 27,982

Regular season

Schedule

WeekDateOpponentResultRecordVenueAttendance
1 September 17 Chicago Bears W 37–13 1–0 Metropolitan Stadium 32,236
2 September 24 at Dallas Cowboys L 7–21 1–1 Cotton Bowl 20,500
3 October 1 at Baltimore Colts L 33–34 1–2 Memorial Stadium 54,259
4 October 8 Dallas Cowboys L 0–28 1–3 Metropolitan Stadium 33,070
5 October 15 San Francisco 49ers L 24–38 1–4 Metropolitan Stadium 34,415
6 October 22 Green Bay Packers L 7–33 1–5 Metropolitan Stadium 42,007
7 October 29 at Green Bay Packers L 10–28 1–6 Milwaukee County Stadium 44,112
8 November 5 at Los Angeles Rams L 17–31 1–7 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 38,594
9 November 12 Baltimore Colts W 28–20 2–7 Metropolitan Stadium 38,010
10 November 19 Detroit Lions L 10–37 2–8 Metropolitan Stadium 32,296
11 November 26 at San Francisco 49ers L 28–38 2–9 Kezar Stadium 43,905
12 December 3 Los Angeles Rams W 42–21 3–9 Metropolitan Stadium 30,068
13 December 10 at Detroit Lions L 7–13 3–10 Tiger Stadium 42,655
14 December 17 at Chicago Bears L 35–52 3–11 Wrigley Field 34,539

Game summaries

Week 1: vs. Chicago Bears

Week 1: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Bears 0 6 0713
Vikings 3 7 141337

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

This was the first regular season game in Vikings history. George Shaw started the game at quarterback for the Vikings, but he was soon replaced by rookie quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as the Vikings won 37–13. They were the last expansion team to win their first game until the 2002 Houston Texans.

Week 2: at Dallas Cowboys

Week 2: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 7 007
Cowboys 7 7 0721

at Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

Game information

Week 3: at Baltimore Colts

Week 3: Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Colts – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 3 10 101033
Colts 7 7 71334

at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

Game information

Week 4: vs. Dallas Cowboys

Week 4: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 7 7 7728
Vikings 0 0 000

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 5: vs. San Francisco 49ers

Week 5: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
49ers 7 7 101438
Vikings 7 10 7024

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 6: vs. Green Bay Packers

Week 6: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Packers 10 3 31733
Vikings 0 7 007

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 7: at Green Bay Packers

Week 7: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 7 3010
Packers 14 7 0728

at Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Game information

Week 8: at Los Angeles Rams

Week 8: Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 7 3 7017
Rams 14 3 01431

at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California

Game information

Week 9: vs. Baltimore Colts

Week 9: Baltimore Colts at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Colts 0 14 3320
Vikings 7 7 7728

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 10: vs. Detroit Lions

Week 10: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Lions 0 14 91437
Vikings 10 0 0010

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 11: at San Francisco 49ers

Week 11: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 14 7728
49ers 14 10 7738

at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, California

Game information

Week 12: vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 12: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Rams 0 14 7021
Vikings 7 14 14742

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 13: at Detroit Lions

Week 13: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 0 707
Lions 0 7 3313

at Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Michigan

Game information

Week 14: at Chicago Bears

Week 14: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 14 7 7735
Bears 7 14 24752

at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game information

Standings

NFL Western Conference
W L T PCT CONF PF PA STK
Green Bay Packers 11 3 0 .786 9–3 391 223 W1
Detroit Lions 8 5 1 .615 7–4–1 270 258 L1
Chicago Bears 8 6 0 .571 7–5 326 302 W2
Baltimore Colts 8 6 0 .571 6–6 302 307 W1
San Francisco 49ers 7 6 1 .538 6–5–1 346 272 L1
Los Angeles Rams 4 10 0 .286 3–9 263 333 L1
Minnesota Vikings 3 11 0 .214 3–9 285 407 L2

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

Postseason

Both halfback Hugh McElhenny and receiver (end) Jerry Reichow were voted to the East–West Pro Bowl game, played January 14, 1962, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The coach for the West squad was Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin. McElhenny scored a third-quarter touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr, and the West won the game 31–30.[3]

Statistics

Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
Passing yardsFran Tarkenton1,997
Passing touchdownsFran Tarkenton18
Rushing yardsHugh McElhenny570
Rushing touchdownsFran Tarkenton5
Receiving yardsJerry Reichow859
Receiving touchdownsJerry Reichow11
PointsJerry Reichow66
Kickoff return yardsTommy Mason603
Punt return yardsHugh McElhenny155
InterceptionsRip Hawkins5

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 14)
Passing offense1,989142.113th
Rushing offense1,897135.56th
Total offense3,886277.612th
Passing defense2,926209.013th
Rushing defense2,667190.514th
Total defense5,593399.514th

References

  1. "Cold Hard Football Facts: The 5.0 Club: run defense in '11 lit up like hippies in '69". Archived from the original on 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  2. Gruver, The American Football League, pp. 22–23.
  3. "Unitas' last-second pass nips East; 3130". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. AP. January 15, 1962. p. 23. Retrieved January 23, 2012.

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