1961 Minnesota Vikings season

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1961 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coach Norm Van Brocklin
General manager Bert Rose
Home field Metropolitan Stadium
Results
Record 3–11–0
Division place 7th NFL Western
Playoff finish did not qualify

The 1961 Minnesota Vikings season was the first year of season play for the expansion franchise and the 42nd regular season of the National Football League. The Vikings finished with a record of three wins and eleven losses under head coach Norm Van Brocklin. The team's first ever regular season game was a victory against divisional rivals the Chicago Bears, 37–13. In that game, rookie quarterback Fran Tarkenton came off the bench to toss 4 touchdown passes and ran for another.

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

Offseason[edit]

Although the NFL had no interest in expanding, after Max Winter and Bill Boyer agreed to start an American Football League franchise in Minnesota, the NFL approached them to change leagues. After they accepted to join the NFL for the 1961 season, the Minnesota group joined Ole Haugsrud in the new team's ownership group, with Haugsrud dubbing the team the Minnesota Vikings.[2]

1961 Draft[edit]

Main article: 1961 NFL draft
1961 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College
Round Choice Overall
1 1 1 Tommy Mason Running Back Tulane
2 1 15 Rip Hawkins Linebacker North Carolina
3 1 29 Fran Tarkenton Quarterback Georgia
4 1 43 Chuck Lamson Safety Wyoming
5 1 57 Ed Sharockman Cornerback Pittsburgh
6 1 71 Jerry Burch End Georgia Tech
7 1 85 Allan Ferrie End Wagner
8 1 99 Paul Lindquist Defensive Tackle New Hampshire
9 1 113 Dan Sheehan Offensive Tackle Tennessee-Chattanooga
10 1 127 Doug Mayberry Fullback Utah State
11 1 141 Jerry Mays Defensive Tackle Southern Methodist
12 1 155 Steve Stonebreaker Linebacker Detroit
13 1 169 Ray Hayes Fullback Central State
14 1 183 Ken Petersen Offensive lineman Utah
15 1 197 Mike Mercer Kicker Arizona State
16 1 211 Ted Karpowicz Running Back Detroit
17 1 225 Willie Jones Fullback Purdue
18 1 239 Bob Voigt Offensive Tackle Cal State-Los Angeles
19 1 253 Bill Hill Fullback Presbyterian
20 1 267 Mike McFarland Quarterback Western Illinois

1961 Expansion Draft[edit]

Player name Position College Acquired from
Grady Alderman Guard Detroit Mercy Detroit Lions
Tom Barnett Running Back Purdue Pittsburgh Steelers
Byron Beams Offensive Tackle
Defensive 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

Preseason[edit]

Game Date Opponent Result Location
1 August 5, 1961 Dallas Cowboys L 13-38 Sioux Falls, SD, Howard Wood Field
2 August 18, 1961 at Baltimore Colts L 3-13 Memorial Stadium
3 August 26, 1961 San Francisco 49ers L 10-14 Portland, OR
4 September 2, 1961 Chicago Bears L 7-30 Cedar Rapids, IA
5 September 10, 1961 Los Angeles Rams L 17-21 Metropolitan Stadium

Regular season[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
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[edit]

Week 1: vs. Chicago Bears[edit]

Week 1: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Bears 0 6 0 7 13
Vikings 3 7 14 13 37

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[edit]

Week 2: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 0 7 0 0 7
Cowboys 7 7 0 7 21

at Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

Game information

Week 3: at Baltimore Colts[edit]

Week 3: Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Colts – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 3 10 10 10 33
Colts 7 7 7 13 34

at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

Game information

Week 4: vs. Dallas Cowboys[edit]

Week 4: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 7 7 7 7 28
Vikings 0 0 0 0 0

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 5: vs. San Francisco 49ers[edit]

Week 5: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 7 7 10 14 38
Vikings 7 10 7 0 24

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 6: vs. Green Bay Packers[edit]

Week 6: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Packers 10 3 3 17 33
Vikings 0 7 0 0 7

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 7: at Green Bay Packers[edit]

Week 7: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 0 7 3 0 10
Packers 14 7 0 7 28

at Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Game information

Week 8: at Los Angeles Rams[edit]

Week 8: Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 7 3 7 0 17
Rams 14 3 0 14 31

at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California

Game information

Week 9: vs. Baltimore Colts[edit]

Week 9: Baltimore Colts at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 0 14 3 3 20
Vikings 7 7 7 7 28

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 10: vs. Detroit Lions[edit]

Week 10: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Lions 0 14 9 14 37
Vikings 10 0 0 0 10

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 11: at San Francisco 49ers[edit]

Week 11: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 0 14 7 7 28
49ers 14 10 7 7 38

at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, California

Game information

Week 12: vs. Los Angeles Rams[edit]

Week 12: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Rams 0 14 7 0 21
Vikings 7 14 14 7 42

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

Game information

Week 13: at Detroit Lions[edit]

Week 13: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 0 0 7 0 7
Lions 0 7 3 3 13

at Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Michigan

Game information

Week 14: at Chicago Bears[edit]

Week 14: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 14 7 7 7 35
Bears 7 14 24 7 52

at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game information

Standings[edit]

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[edit]

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 ten-yard pass from West teammate Bart Starr, and the West won a close 31-30 contest.[3]

Statistics[edit]

Team leaders[edit]

Category Player(s) Value
Passing Yards Fran Tarkenton 1,997
Passing Touchdowns Fran Tarkenton 18
Rushing Yards Hugh McElhenny 570
Rushing Touchdowns Fran Tarkenton 5
Receiving Yards Jerry Reichow 859
Receiving Touchdowns Jerry Reichow 11
Points Jerry Reichow 66
Kickoff Return Yards Tommy Mason 603
Punt Return Yards Hugh McElhenny 155
Interceptions Rip Hawkins 5

League rankings[edit]

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 14)
Passing Offense 1,989 Yards 142.1 YPG 13th
Rushing Offense 1,897 Yards 135.5 YPG 6th
Total Offense 3,886 Yards 277.6 YPG 12th
Passing Defense 2,926 Yards 209.0 YPG 13th
Rushing Defense 2,667 Yards 190.5 YPG 14th
Total Defense 5,593 Yards 399.5 YPG 14th

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cold Hard Football Facts: The 5.0 Club: run defense in '11 lit up like hippies in '69
  2. ^ Gruver, The American Football League, pp. 22–23.
  3. ^ "Unitas' last-second pass nips East; 31–30". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. AP. January 15, 1962. p. 23. Retrieved January 23, 2012.