1989 Minnesota Vikings season

1989 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coach Jerry Burns
General manager Mike Lynn
Home field Metrodome
Record 10–6
Division place 1st NFC Central
Playoff finish Lost NFC Divisional Playoff (at 49ers) 13–41

The 1989 Minnesota Vikings season was the franchise's 29th season in the National Football League. The Vikings finished with a record of ten wins and six losses, and winning the NFC Central Division. This title was secured during one of what is considered by many to be among the most exciting Monday Night Football contests ever: a Christmas Day victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at home, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which was the de facto first playoff game of the year. This season was also notable by how many sacks the defense produced, with 39 coming from only two players (Chris Doleman and Keith Millard) and 71 overall. Millard would later receive Defensive Player of the Year honors after putting up record numbers by a defensive tackle. The Vikings were once again embarrassed by the defending Super Bowl champion 49ers in the divisional round, losing 41-13.


1989 Draft

1989 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Choice Overall
12424Traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers[a]
22452David BraxtonLinebackerWake Forest
32480John HunterOffensive tackleBrigham Young
424108Darryl IngramTight endCalifornia
524136Pick forfeited during 1988 Supplemental Draft[b]
624163Jeff MickelOffensive tackleEastern Washington
724191Benji RolandDefensive endAuburn
824219Alex StewartDefensive endCal State-Fullerton
924247Traded to the New England Patriots[c]
1024275Traded to the Miami Dolphins[d]
1124303Brad BaxterRunning backAlabama State
1224331Shawn WoodsonLinebackerJames Madison
28335Everett RossWide receiverOhio Statefrom 49ers via Raiders[c]
^[a] Minnesota traded their 1st round selection to Pittsburgh for LB Mike Merriweather.
^[b] Minnesota selected defensive back Ryan Bethea.
^[c] During the 1988 Draft, New England traded their 11th round selection (296th overall) to Minnesota for their 9th round selection in the 1989 draft.
^[d] Minnesota traded their 12th round selection to Miami for OL Greg Koch.
^[e] Minnesota traded their 1990 11th round selection to the Raiders for this selection.



1989 Minnesota Vikings staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

  • Offensive Coordinator – Bob Schnelker
  • Assistant Offensive Coordinator/Passing Game – Dick Rehbein
  • Running backs – John Brunner
  • Receivers – Jerry Brown
  • Tight ends – Tom Batta
  • Offensive Line – John Michels
Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Tom Batta


Final roster

1989 Minnesota Vikings final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
51 Active, 1 Inactive, 0 Practice squad


1August 12Kansas City ChiefsW 23-131-0Liberty Bowl, (Memphis, TN)63,528
2August 21Washington RedskinsW 24-132-0Metrodome50,213
3August 26at Los Angeles RamsL 14-242-1Anaheim Stadium45,087
4September 1Cincinnati BengalsW 17-103-1Metrodome49,867

Regular season

The defensive line of Chris Doleman, Keith Millard, Al Noga and Henry Thomas were key contributors in helping the Vikings rank number one in the NFL in total defense. In addition, the Vikings set a franchise record with 71 sacks in one season. Chris Doleman had 21 sacks and was one shy of tying the NFL record.


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 10, 1989 Houston Oilers W 38–7 1-0 Metrodome
2 September 17, 1989 at Chicago Bears L 38–7 1-1 Soldier Field
3 September 24, 1989 at Pittsburgh Steelers L 27–14 1-2 Three Rivers Stadium
4 October 1, 1989 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 17–3 2-2 Metrodome
5 October 8, 1989 Detroit Lions W 24–17 3-2 Metrodome
6 October 15, 1989 Green Bay Packers W 26–14 4-2 Metrodome
7 October 22, 1989 at Detroit Lions W 20–7 5-2 Silverdome
8 October 30, 1989 at New York Giants L 24–14 5-3 Giants Stadium
9 November 5, 1989 Los Angeles Rams W 23–21 (OT) 6-3 Metrodome
10 November 12, 1989 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 24–10 7-3 Tampa Stadium
11 November 19, 1989 at Philadelphia Eagles L 10–9 7-4 Veterans Stadium
12 November 26, 1989 at Green Bay Packers L 20–19 7-5 Milwaukee County Stadium
13 December 3, 1989 Chicago Bears W 27–16 8-5 Metrodome
14 December 10, 1989 Atlanta Falcons W 43–17 9-5 Metrodome
15 December 17, 1989 at Cleveland Browns L 23–17 (OT) 9-6 Cleveland Stadium
16 December 25, 1989 Cincinnati Bengals W 29–21 10-6 Metrodome


Week Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
Divisional January 6, 1990 at San Francisco 49ers L 41–13 Candlestick Park


NFC Central
Minnesota Vikings(3) 10 6 0 .625 6–2 8–4 362 356 W1
Green Bay Packers 10 6 0 .625 5–3 10–4 362 275 W2
Detroit Lions 7 9 0 .438 4–4 6–6 312 364 W5
Chicago Bears 6 10 0 .375 2–6 4–8 358 377 L6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 11 0 .313 3–5 5–7 320 419 L4

Herschel Walker

In 1989, at the height of his NFL career, the Cowboys traded him to the Minnesota Vikings for a total of five players (LB Jesse Solomon, DB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, LB David Howard, DE Alex Stewart) and six draft picks (which led to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson). This was judged to be one of the turning points in the rise of the Cowboys to the top echelon of the NFL. Walker's trade was widely perceived as an exceptionally poor move considering what the Vikings had to give up in order to get him, and remains one of the most frequently vilified roster moves of the team's history. The Vikings coaches reluctantly accepted Walker after the trade and never totally used the tool they had been given. Scout.com says, "but Walker was never used properly by the coaching brain trust (a total oxymoron in this case)".[2]


Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
Passing YardsWade Wilson2,543
Passing TouchdownsWade Wilson9
Rushing YardsHerschel Walker669
Rushing TouchdownsHerschel Walker5
Receiving YardsAnthony Carter1,066
Receiving TouchdownsAnthony Carter4
PointsRich Karlis120
Kickoff Return YardsHerschel Walker374
Punt Return YardsLeo Lewis446
TacklesChris Doleman
Henry Thomas
SacksChris Doleman21.0
InterceptionsJoey Browner5
Forced FumblesChris Doleman5

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 28)
Passing Offense3,189 Yards199.3 YPG17th
Rushing Offense2,066 Yards129.1 YPG7th
Total Offense5,255 Yards328.4 YPG14th
Passing Defense2,501 Yards156.3 YPG1st
Rushing Defense1,683 Yards105.2 YPG11th
Total Defense4,184 Yards261.5 YPG1st

Awards and records


  • Chris Doleman, third player in NFL History to reach 20 sacks in a season
  • Chris Doleman, franchise record, 21 sacks


  1. 2010 Minnesota Vikings Media Guide. p. 265. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  2. Viking Update Staff (2001-06-20). "History: Walker Trade". Scout.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
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