The Minnesota Vikings First Winning Season


The Minnesota Vikings came into the NFL in 1961 under some unusual circumstances. The ownership had originally agreed to be a member of the AFL, but then accepted an offer by the NFL to join them instead.

Joining an established football league is a tough thing to do, especially for any team that wants success. How long did it take for Minnesota to get a winning record for the year?

That initial season was pretty bad, with a number of lopsided scores and some heartbreaking losses. They did have Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Norm Van Brocklin as their head coach and future Pro Football Hall of Fame member Fran Tarkenton at quarterback, but it just wasn’t enough. They would finish that first year 3-11. The next season they would surprisingly do even worse, dropping to 2-11-1 by the time the year ended. They made noticeable improvement in 1963 when they put up a record of 5-8-1. But still, they had not yet reached the level of teams that were posting winning records.

1964 would be a break through year for the Vikings though as they not only outscored their opponents for the first time over the course of a full season, they also finished above .500 for the first time with a record of 8-5-1.

The Vikings started 1964 out with a 34-24 win over the Baltimore Colts before losing two straight to the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams. They would then beat the Green Bay Packers on the road by one, lose to the Detroit Lions by four, before finishing the first half of the season with back to back wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Packers would come to town in week 8 and leave with a 42-13 victory. The Vikings would recover quickly, beating the 49ers at home, but then losing to the Colts by three on the road. Week 11 would see the Vikings tie the Lions 23-23, leaving their record right at .500, 5-5-1. Minnesota’s offense would explode over the last three games of the season, scoring 34 in a home win over the Rams, 30 in a road victory over the New York Giants, and 41 in a road win over the Bears.

Minnesota Vikings fans had to sit through three losing seasons before seeing their team win more games than they lost. That really is not that long of a wait when compared to some other teams around the league. Sadly, this wasn’t an immediate sign that the team had turned it around as it wouldn’t be until 1968, four years later, that they would have their second winning season. That time though, it was a sign of great things to come.

Check out this look at the worst season in Minnesota Vikings history.

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