1971 Minnesota Vikings season

1971 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coach Bud Grant
General manager Jim Finks
Home field Metropolitan Stadium
Results
Record 11–3
Division place 1st NFC Central
Playoff finish Lost NFC Divisional Playoff (Cowboys) 12-20

The 1971 Minnesota Vikings season was the franchise's 11th season in the National Football League. The Vikings won the NFC Central title as they finished with a record of 11 wins and three losses, before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys at home, 20–12, in the NFC Divisional Playoff game.

In 2007, ESPN.com ranked the 1971 Vikings as the fourth-greatest defense in NFL history,[1] saying, "[c]onsidering that their motto was 'Meet at the quarterback,' it's no surprise that the Purple People Eaters held opposing QBs to a 40.4 rating, one of the lowest ever." ESPN also noted that the 1971 Vikings "shut out three opponents, and only one team scored more than 20 points against them. As a result, Alan Page became the first defensive player to ever be named NFL MVP. Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and safety Paul Krause joined Page on the All-Pro team."

Offseason

1971 Draft

1971 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Choice Overall
1 24 24 Leo Hayden Running Back Ohio State
2 24 50 Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles[a]
3 24 76 Eddie Hackett Wide Receiver Alcorn A&M
4 24 102 Vince Clements Running Back Connecticut
5 24 128 Traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers[b]
6 24 154 Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles[a]
7 24 180 Gene Mack Linebacker Texas-El Paso
8 26 208 John Farley Defensive End Johnson C. Smith originally Colts pick[c]
9 24 232 Tim Sullivan Running Back Iowa
10 24 258 Chris Morris Guard Indiana
11 24 284 Mike Walker Linebacker Tulane
12 24 310 Reggie Holmes Defensive Back Wisconsin–Stout
13 24 336 Benny Fry Center Houston
14 24 362 Jim Gallagher Linebacker Yale
15 24 388 Jeff Wright Defensive Back Minnesota
16 23 413 Greg Edmonds Wide Receiver Penn State originally 49ers pick[d]
17 23 439 Ken Duncan Punter Tulsa originally 49ers pick[e]
^[a] Minnesota traded their 2nd round selection (50th overall), 6th round selection (154th overall), 1972 3rd round selection (76th overall), and OL Steve Smith to Philadelphia for QB Norm Snead.
^[b] Minnesota traded their 5th round selection (128th overall) to Pittsburg for QB Kent Nix.
^[c] Minnesota originally chose 206th overall but passed allowing Dallas and Baltimore to move up and Minnesota to choose 208th overall.
^[d] Minnesota originally chose 414th overall but moved up to the 413th overall selection when San Francisco passed.
^[e] Minnesota originally chose 440th overall but moved up to the 439th overall selection when Oakland passed on the 435th overall selection and allowed Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami, San Francisco, Minnesota, Dallas, and Baltimore to move up.

Roster

1971 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
54 Active, 4 Inactive, 0 Practice squad

Preseason

WeekDateOpponentResultRecordVenueAttendance
1August 8New England PatriotsL 10–170–1Memorial Stadium (Minneapolis)31,813
2August 14at San Diego ChargersW 34–71–1San Diego Stadium49,267
3August 21Chicago BearsW 34–142–1Metropolitan Stadium47,900
4August 28at Pittsburgh SteelersW 26–213–1Three Rivers Stadium46,276
5September 4at Denver BroncosL 7–143–2Mile High Stadium43,000
6September 11Miami DolphinsW 24–04–2Metropolitan Stadium47,990

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 20 at Detroit Lions W 16–13 1–0 Tiger Stadium
54,418
2 September 26 Chicago Bears L 17-20 1–1 Metropolitan Stadium
47,900
3 October 3 Buffalo Bills W 19–0 2–1 Metropolitan Stadium
47,900
4 October 10 at Philadelphia Eagles W 13–0 3–1 Veterans Stadium
65,358
5 October 17 at Green Bay Packers W 24–13 4–1 Lambeau Field
56,263
6 October 25 Baltimore Colts W 10–3 5–1 Metropolitan Stadium
49,784
7 October 31 at New York Giants W 17–10 6–1 Yankee Stadium
62,829
8 November 7 San Francisco 49ers L 9-13 6–2 Metropolitan Stadium
49,784
9 November 14 Green Bay Packers W 3–0 7–2 Metropolitan Stadium
49,784
10 November 21 at New Orleans Saints W 23–10 8–2 Tulane Stadium
83,130
11 November 28 Atlanta Falcons W 24–7 9–2 Metropolitan Stadium
49,784
12 December 5 at San Diego Chargers L 14-30 9–3 San Diego Stadium
54,505
13 December 11 Detroit Lions W 29–10 10–3 Metropolitan Stadium
49,784
14 December 19 at Chicago Bears W 27–10 11–3 Soldier Field
55,049

Game summaries

Week 6

1 234Total
Colts 0 003 3
Vikings 7 030 10

[2]

Playoffs

Round Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
Divisional December 25 Dallas Cowboys L 12-20 Metropolitan Stadium
47,307

Standings

NFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Minnesota Vikings 11 3 0 .786 5–1 9–2 245 139 W2
Detroit Lions 7 6 1 .538 2–3–1 3–6–1 341 286 L2
Chicago Bears 6 8 0 .429 2–4 5–6 185 276 L5
Green Bay Packers 4 8 2 .333 2–3–1 2–7–2 274 298 L1

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

Awards, records, and honors

All-Pros

First Team

Pro Bowlers

League leaders

  • Bob Lee – Most punts (89), most punting yards (3515)
  • Charlie West – Longest interception return (89 yards)
  • Alan Page – Most safeties (2)

Statistics

Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
Passing YardsGary Cuozzo842
Passing TouchdownsGary Cuozzo6
Rushing YardsClint Jones675
Rushing TouchdownsDave Osborn5
Receiving YardsBob Grim691
Receiving TouchdownsBob Grim7
PointsFred Cox91
Kickoff Return YardsCharlie West556
Punt Return YardsCharlie West94
InterceptionsCharlie West7

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 26)
Passing Offense1,655 Yards118.2 YPG25th
Rushing Offense1,695 Yards121.1 YPG17th
Total Offense3,350 Yards239.3 YPG23rd
Passing Defense1,806 Yards129.0 YPG3rd
Rushing Defense1,600 Yards114.3 YPG6th
Total Defense3,406 Yards243.3 YPG2nd

References

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