1981 Minnesota Vikings season
|1981 Minnesota Vikings season|
|Head coach||Bud Grant|
|General manager||Mike Lynn|
|Home field||Metropolitan Stadium|
|Division place||4th NFC Central|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
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.
|1981 Minnesota Vikings Draft|
|Draft order||Player name||Position||College||Notes|
|1||18||18||Traded to the Baltimore Colts[a]|
|2||11||39||Mardye McDole||Wide receiver||Mississippi State||from Colts[a]|
|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]|
|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)|
|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.
|1981 Minnesota Vikings final roster|
|1||August 8||Miami Dolphins||L 6–20||0–1||Metropolitan Stadium||45,165|
|2||August 14||at Washington Redskins||L 13–27||0–2||Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium||44,662|
|3||August 22||Atlanta Falcons||W 20–19||1–2||Metropolitan Stadium||42,908|
|4||August 27||at Los Angeles Rams||L 31–34||1–3||Anaheim Stadium||60,141|
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.
|1||September 5, 1981||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||L 13–21||0–1||Tampa Stadium||66,287|
|2||September 14, 1981||Oakland Raiders||L 10–36||0–2||Metropolitan Stadium||47,186|
|3||September 20, 1981||Detroit Lions||W 26–24||1–2||Metropolitan Stadium||45,350|
|4||September 27, 1981||at Green Bay Packers||W 30–13||2–2||Milwaukee County Stadium||55,012|
|5||October 4, 1981||Chicago Bears||W 24–21||3–2||Metropolitan Stadium||43,827|
|6||October 11, 1981||at San Diego Chargers||W 33–31||4–2||San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium||50,708|
|7||October 18, 1981||Philadelphia Eagles||W 35–23||5–2||Metropolitan Stadium||45,459|
|8||October 25, 1981||at St. Louis Cardinals||L 17–30||5–3||Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium||48,039|
|9||November 2, 1981||at Denver Broncos||L 17–19||5–4||Mile High Stadium||74,834|
|10||November 8, 1981||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||W 25–10||6–4||Metropolitan Stadium||47,038|
|11||November 15, 1981||New Orleans Saints||W 20–10||7–4||Metropolitan Stadium||45,215|
|12||November 23, 1981||at Atlanta Falcons||L 30–31||7–5||Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium||54,086|
|13||November 29, 1981||Green Bay Packers||L 23–35||7–6||Metropolitan Stadium||46,025|
|14||December 6, 1981||at Chicago Bears||L 9–10||7–7||Soldier Field||50,766|
|15||December 12, 1981||at Detroit Lions||L 7–45||7–8||Pontiac Silverdome||79,428|
|16||December 20, 1981||Kansas City Chiefs||L 6–10||7–9||Metropolitan Stadium||41,110|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers(3)||9||7||0||.563||6–2||9–3||315||268||W1|
|Green Bay Packers||8||8||0||.500||4–4||7–7||324||361||L1|
|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|
|Kickoff Return Yards||Eddie Payton||898|
|Punt Return Yards||Eddie Payton||303|
- Vikings single season record although tackles were not official until 2001.
|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|