|1973 Minnesota Vikings season|
|Head coach||Bud Grant|
|General manager||Jim Finks|
|Home field||Metropolitan Stadium|
|Division place||1st NFC Central|
|Playoff finish||Won Divisional Playoffs|
Won NFC Championship
(at Cowboys) 27-10
Lost Super Bowl VIII
(vs. Dolphins) 7-24
The 1973 season was the Minnesota Vikings' 13th in the National Football League. With a 12-2 record, the Vikings regained the NFC Central title after having gone 7-7 the previous year. They started the season 9-0 and looked a threat to the previous year's Dolphins' record of a perfect season before losing to the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals in their next three games. Their narrow 10-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams constituted the last time until 1997 that the last two unbeaten NFL teams played each other.
The Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins 27-20 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at home and went on to upset the Dallas Cowboys 27-10 in Irving, Texas to win the NFC Championship, before losing 24-7 to the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium in Houston.
|1973 Minnesota Vikings Draft|
|Draft order||Player name||Position||College||Notes|
|1||12||Chuck Foreman||Running back||Miami|
|2||34||Jackie Wallace||Defensive back||Arizona||from Cardinals[a]|
|40||Traded to the New York Giants[b]|
|3||65||Jim Lash||Wide receiver||Northwestern|
|4||80||Mike Wells (quarterback)||Quarterback||Illinois||from Eagles[c]|
|89||Traded to the Kansas City Chiefs[e]||from Vikings[d] via Cardinals[a]|
|5||118||Brent McClanahan||Running back||Arizona State|
|6||139||Doug Kingsriter||Tight end||Minnesota||from Saints[f]|
|7||168||Josh Brown||Running back||Texas State|
|9||221||Larry Dibbles||Defensive end||New Mexico|
|10||236||Randy Lee||Defensive back||Tulane||from Eagles[g]|
|246||Dave Mason||Defensive back||Nebraska|
|11||274||Geary Murdock||Guard||Iowa State|
|12||299||Alan Spencer||Wide receiver||Pittsburg State|
|13||324||Ron Just||Guard||Minot State|
|14||352||Eddie Bishop||Defensive back||Southern|
|15||377||Tony Chandler||Running back||Missouri Valley|
|16||402||Larry Smiley||Defensive end||Texas Southern|
|17||429||Dave Winfield||Tight end||Minnesota||n/a[h]|
|1||August 11||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 10-6||1-0||Metropolitan Stadium||46,619|
|2||August 18||at Kansas City Chiefs||W 13-10||2-0||Arrowhead Stadium||72,676|
|3||August 25||at Oakland Raiders||W 34-10||3-0||Memorial Stadium (Berkeley, CA)||57,515|
|4||August 31||Miami Dolphins||W 20-17||4-0||Metropolitan Stadium||46,619|
|5||September 8||at San Diego Chargers||W 24-16||5-0||San Diego Stadium||42,007|
|1||September 16||Oakland Raiders||W 24-16||1-0||Metropolitan Stadium||44,818|
|2||September 23||at Chicago Bears||W 22-13||2-0||Soldier Field||52,035|
|3||September 30||Green Bay Packers||W 11-3||3-0||Metropolitan Stadium||48,176|
|4||October 7||at Detroit Lions||W 23-9||4-0||Tiger Stadium||49,549|
|5||October 14||at San Francisco 49ers||W 17-13||5-0||Candlestick Park||56,438|
|6||October 21||Philadelphia Eagles||W 28-21||6-0||Metropolitan Stadium||47,478|
|7||October 28||Los Angeles Rams||W 10-9||7-0||Metropolitan Stadium||47,787|
|8||November 4||Cleveland Browns||W 26-3||8-0||Metropolitan Stadium||46,722|
|9||November 11||Detroit Lions||W 28-7||9-0||Metropolitan Stadium||47,911|
|10||November 19||at Atlanta Falcons||L 14-20||9-1||Atlanta Stadium||56,519|
|11||November 25||Chicago Bears||W 31-13||10-1||Metropolitan Stadium||46,430|
|12||December 2||at Cincinnati Bengals||L 0-27||10-2||Riverfront Stadium||57,859|
|13||December 8||at Green Bay Packers||W 31-7||11-2||Lambeau Field||53,830|
|14||December 16||at New York Giants||W 31-7||12-2||Yale Bowl||70,041|
|Green Bay Packers||5||7||2||.429||1-4-1||4-6-1||202||259||W1|
|NFC Divisional Playoff||December 22, 1973||Washington Redskins||W 27-20||1-0||Metropolitan Stadium||45,475|
|Conference Championship||December 30, 1973||at Dallas Cowboys||W 27-10||2-0||Texas Stadium||60,272|
|Super Bowl VIII||January 13, 1974||Miami Dolphins||L 7-24||2-1||Rice Stadium||71,882|
Minnesota scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-10 deficit, including two touchdowns in a span of 1:05.
Both offenses struggled in the first quarter. The Vikings were completely unable to move the ball, finishing the quarter without any first downs, while Washington kicker Curt Knight missed two field goal attempts. One miss was from 49 yards and the other from 17, spoiling an impressive drive that saw the Redskins drive from their own 14 to inside the Vikings 10-yard line.
Minnesota finally managed to get rolling in the second quarter, with a 50-yard completion from Tarkenton to running back Oscar Reed setting up Fred Cox's 19-yard field goal. But with 3:30 left in the half, Vikings defensive back Bobby Bryant fumbled a punt return that was recovered by Redskins running back Bob Brunet on the Minnesota 21-yard line. Billy Kilmer then completed a 17-yard pass to Charley Taylor before Larry Brown scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Redskins a 7-3 lead. Minnesota responded with a drive into field goal range, but Mike Bass intercepted a pass from Tarkenton to maintain Washington's lead going into halftime.
The Vikings then took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 79 yards, including a 46-yard run by Reed, to score on fullback Bill Brown's 2-yard rushing touchdown. To make matters worse for Washington, star cornerback Pat Fischer suffered cracked ribs on the drive and was replaced by Speedy Duncan, an 11-year veteran who normally only played as a kick returner. Still, the Redskins managed to take back the lead with Knight's two third-quarter field goals, first tying a playoff record from 52 yards, and the second from 46 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Now facing a 13-10 fourth quarter deficit, the Vikings stormed back with two quick touchdowns. First they drove 71 yards in 8 plays to score on Tarkenton's pass to John Gilliam, who beat single coverage by Duncan for a 28-yard touchdown catch. Then on the first play of Washington's ensuing drive, Nate Wright intercepted a pass from Kilmer and returned it 26 yards to the Redskins 8-yard line, setting up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tarkenton to Gilliam that made the score 24-13. With 5:28 left, Washington got back to within four points, getting good field position due to Ken Stone blocking a Vikings punt and converting it into Kilmer's 28-yard touchdown pass to Roy Jefferson. But the Vikings managed to burn up 4 minutes with their ensuing drive, finishing it off with a 30-yard Cox field goal that gave them a 27-20 lead. The Redskins had less than two minutes to drive for a tying touchdown, and ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Vikings 42-yard line.
Tarkenton completed 16/28 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Reed had 17 carries for 95 yards and caught four passes for 76. Brown rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown, while also catching two passes for 13 yards.
"Sometimes they're not concentrating on me," said Oscar Reed, in reference to his big plays in the game. "Since early in the season they've been keying on Chuck Foreman. I'm not the world's greatest pass catcher or runner, but given a little room, I'll use what I've got."
The Vikings forced four interceptions and recovered two fumbles in the second half while also holding Dallas to 152 total yards en route to a 27-10 victory over the Cowboys.
With the loss of running back Calvin Hill and defensive tackle Bob Lilly to injuries, Dallas' offense could not get anything going. Minnesota jumped to a 10-0 lead by halftime with a Fred Cox field goal and an 86-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Chuck Foreman. The touchdown drive included Fran Tarkenton's completions to tight end Stu Voigt for gains of 16 and 7 yards, a 2-yard run by Foreman on 4th-and-1, and a 12-yard scramble by Tarkenton himself.
What followed would be an amazingly sloppy second half in which both teams combined for 10 turnovers. Three minutes into the third quarter, Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach threw an interception to Bobby Bryant on the Vikings 2-yard line. But the Cowboys defense forced a punt and Golden Richards returned it 63 yards for a touchdown, cutting the score to 10-7. Tarkenton quickly struck back, throwing a 54-yard touchdown pass to John Gilliam, who managed to outrun single coverage by Cowboys future Hall of Fame defensive back Mel Renfro. Dallas responded with Toni Fritsch's 17-yard field goal which cut the lead to 17-10.
Then a wave of turnovers began. On the ensuing possession, Dallas got a huge opportunity to score when Charlie Waters forced a fumble from Foreman that safety Cliff Harris recovered on the Minnesota 37. However, the Vikings took the ball right back when Staubach threw a pass that was deflected into the arms of linebacker Jeff Siemon. An even better scoring chance awaited the Cowboys at the end of the Vikings' next drive, as Tarkenton threw an interception to Waters on the Minnesota 24. But Dallas fared no better this time, losing the ball again when Jim Marshall knocked it out of Staubach's hand as he wound up for a pass, and defensive lineman Gary Larsen recovered it. The offensive futility continued with Minnesota, as their next drive ended with a fumbled handoff exchange between Tarkenton and Foreman that Dallas lineman Larry Cole recovered on the Vikings 47-yard line.
A few plays later, Dallas faced 3rd-and-3 with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Staubach attempted a pass to Bob Hayes near the right sideline, but Bryant intercepted the pass and raced 63 yards for a touchdown that put the Vikings up 24-10. Then on Dallas' next drive, Staubach tried to connect with Drew Pearson, but a devastating hit by Nate Wright caused the ball to bounce off his hands and into the arms of defensive back Jeff Wright, who returned the ball 13 yards to set up Cox's 34-yard game clinching field goal.
Both teams combined for a net total of just 163 passing yards. Tarkenton completed only 10/21 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown with one interception, while also rushing for 16 yards. Staubach had one of the worst postseason performances of his career, completing just 10/21 passes for 89 yards and throwing four interceptions, though he did rush for 30 yards. Foreman was the top offensive performer of the day with 76 rushing yards and four receptions for 28, while fullback Oscar Reed added 18 carries for 75 yards and an 8-yard catch.
|Passing yards||Fran Tarkenton||2,113|
|Passing touchdowns||Fran Tarkenton||15|
|Rushing yards||Chuck Foreman||801|
|Rushing touchdowns||Chuck Foreman||4|
|Receiving yards||John Gilliam||907|
|Receiving touchdowns||John Gilliam||8|
|Kickoff return yards||Brent McClanahan||410|
|Punt return yards||Bobby Bryant||140|
|Category||Total yards||Yards per game||NFL rank|
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