1981 Minnesota Vikings season

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1981 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coach Bud Grant
Home field Metropolitan Stadium
Results
Record 7–9
Division place 4th NFC Central
Playoff finish did not qualify
Timeline
Previous season Next season
< 1980 1982 >

The 1981 Minnesota Vikings season was the team's 21st season, the 62nd regular season of the National Football League, and the final season for the team at Metropolitan Stadium. The Vikings finished with a record of seven wins and nine losses, and missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

The Vikings attempted 709 passes in 1981 (44.31 per game) a league record that stood for 30 years until it was broken by the 2012 Detroit Lions.[1]

Offseason[edit]

1981 Draft[edit]

Main article: 1981 NFL Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Choice Overall
1 18 18 Traded to the Baltimore Colts[a]
2 11 39 Mardye McDole Wide Receiver Mississippi State from Colts[a]
17 45 Robin Sendlein Linebacker Texas-Austin
24 52 Jarvis Redwine Running Back Nebraska from Rams via Redskins and Colts[a]
3 15 71 Traded to the New Orleans Saints[b]
18 74 Tim Irwin Offensive Tackle Tennessee from Patriots[c]
4 18 101 John Swain Cornerback Miami
5 12 123 Wendell Ray Defensive End Missouri from Colts[a]
17 128 Traded to the New Orleans Saints[b]
6 16 154 Traded to the Miami Dolphins[d]
7 18 184 Don Shaver Running Back Kutztown (PA)
8 17 210 Wade Wilson Quarterback Oklahoma
9 16 237 Traded to the Seattle Seahawks[e]
10 18 266 James Murphy Wide Receiver Utah State
11 17 293 Bill Stephanos Offensive Tackle Boston College
12 16 320 Brian Williams Tight End Southern
^[a] Baltimore traded two 2nd round selections (39th and 52nd overall) and their 5th round selection (123rd overall) to Minnesota to move up 21 spots to the 18th overall selection and draft DE Donnell Thompson.
^[b] Minnesota traded their 3rd round selection (71st overall) and 5th round selection (128th overall) to New Orleans for OT Steve Riley.
^[c] New England traded their 3rd round selection (74th overall) to Minnesota for RB Chuck Foreman.
^[d] Minnesota traded their 6th round selection (154th overall) and 1982 5th round selection (120th overall) to Miami for OL Jim Langer.
^[e] Minnesota traded their 9th round selection (236th overall) to Seattle for OT Nick Bebout.

Regular Season[edit]

After opening the season with back-to-back losses, the Vikings ran off five straight wins and sat near the top of the NFC at midseason. After splitting their next four games, the Vikings were 7–4 and poised for a playoff run—however, the Vikings would lose their last five games to close out the year.

The Vikings were led by quarterback Tommy Kramer, who enjoyed the most productive season of his career by throwing for 3,912 yards and 26 touchdowns. However, Kramer also threw 24 interceptions in 1981. The '81 Vikings set an NFL record for pass attempts with 709.

A trio of offensive standouts paced the Vikings in 1981 at the skill positions. Running back Ted Brown was the team's main ballcarrier, rushing for 1,063 yards and also came in third in the NFL with 83 pass receptions. He scored eight touchdowns. Veteran wide receiver Sammy White also eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career (1,001) and tight end Joe Senser, who would later become a color analyst on radio for the Vikings, logged 1,004 yards receiving with eight touchdowns; Senser went to the Pro Bowl for the '81 season.

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 5, 1981 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 21-13
66,287
2 September 14, 1981 Oakland Raiders L 36-10
47,186
3 September 20, 1981 Detroit Lions W 26-24
45,350
4 September 27, 1981 at Green Bay Packers (Milw) W 30-13
55,012
5 October 4, 1981 Chicago Bears W 24-21
43,827
6 October 11, 1981 at San Diego Chargers W 33-31
50,708
7 October 18, 1981 Philadelphia Eagles W 35-23
45,459
8 October 25, 1981 at St. Louis Cardinals L 30-17
48,039
9 November 2, 1981 at Denver Broncos L 19-17
74,834
10 November 8, 1981 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 25-10
47,038
11 November 15, 1981 New Orleans Saints W 20-10
45,215
12 November 23, 1981 at Atlanta Falcons L 31-30
54,086
13 November 29, 1981 Green Bay Packers L 35-23
46,025
14 December 6, 1981 at Chicago Bears L 10-9
50,766
15 December 12, 1981 at Detroit Lions L 45-7
79,428
16 December 20, 1981 Kansas City Chiefs L 10-6
41,110

Standings[edit]

NFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA
Tampa Bay Buccaneers(3) 9 7 0 .563 6–2 9–3 315 268
Detroit Lions 8 8 0 .500 4–4 6–6 397 322
Green Bay Packers 8 8 0 .500 4–4 7–7 324 361
Minnesota Vikings 7 9 0 .438 4–4 6–6 325 369
Chicago Bears 6 10 0 .375 2–6 2–10 253 324

Statistics[edit]

Team leaders[edit]

Category Player(s) Value
Passing Yards Tommy Kramer 3,912
Passing Touchdowns Tommy Kramer 26
Rushing Yards Ted Brown 1,063
Rushing Touchdowns Ted Brown 6
Receiving Yards Joe Senser 1,004
Receiving Touchdowns Joe Senser 8
Points Rick Danmeier 97
Kickoff Return Yards Eddie Payton 898
Punt Return Yards Eddie Payton 303
Interceptions Tom Hannon
Willie Teal
4

League rankings[edit]

Category Total Yards Yards Per Game NFL Rank
(out of 28)
Passing Offense 4,333 Yards 270.8 YPG 2nd
Rushing Offense 1,512 Yards 94.5 YPG 28th
Total Offense 5,845 Yards 365.3 YPG 6th
Passing Defense 3,328 Yards 208.0 YPG 18th
Rushing Defense 2,045 Yards 127.8 YPG 15th
Total Defense 5,373 Yards 335.8 YPG 17th

References[edit]