|1972 Minnesota Vikings season|
|Head Coach||Bud Grant|
|General Manager||Jim Finks|
|Home Field||Metropolitan Stadium|
|Place||3rd NFC Central|
|Playoff Finish||did not qualify|
|Previous season||Next season|
The 1972 season was the Minnesota Vikings' 12th in the National Football League. It marked the return of Fran Tarkenton to the Vikings after he had been traded to the New York Giants in 1967. In return, Minnesota sent three players to the Giants (Norm Snead, Bob Grim and Vince Clements), plus a first and second round draft choice. Tarkenton's return also led to the previous season's QB, Gary Cuozzo, being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in a deal which sent wide receiver John Gilliam to the Vikings along with second- and fourth-round draft picks in 1973. Cardinals coach Bob Hollway was familiar with Cuozzo, having served as Minnesota's defensive coordinator under Bud Grant prior to leaving for St. Louis in 1971.
The Vikings finished with a record of seven wins and seven losses and failed to improve on their 11–3 record from 1971. This would be one of only two times during the 1970s in which the Vikings failed to reach the playoffs, as they would win the NFC Central six straight years from 1973–1978 before posting a 7–9 record in 1979. The Vikings started the season with just one win in their first four games, including a surprising 19-17 loss to the lightly-regarded Cardinals in week four, when Gary Cuozzo bested his former team as Vikings kicker Fred Cox hit the upright on a potential game-winning field goal. The team recovered from their slow start, winning five of their next six to sit at 6–4. However, the Vikings would lose three of their final four games to finish the season at an even 7–7.
|1972 Minnesota Vikings Draft|
|Draft order||Player name||Position||College||Notes|
|1||10||10||Jeff Siemon||Linebacker||Stanford||from Patriots[a]|
|24||24||Traded to the New York Giants[b]|
|2||24||50||Ed Marinaro||Running back||Cornell|
|3||7||59||Bart Buetow||Offensive tackle||Minnesota||from Packers[c]|
|24||76||Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles[d]|
|4||24||102||Traded to the Denver Broncos[e]|
|5||24||128||Traded to the Los Angeles Rams[f]|
|7||25||181||Bill Slater||Defensive end||Western Michigan||originally Dolphins pick[g]|
|8||24||206||Calvin Demery||Wide receiver||Arizona State|
|9||24||232||Charlie Goodrum||Guard||Florida A&M|
|10||24||258||Willie Aldridge||Running back||South Carolina State|
|11||24||284||Willie McKelton||Defensive back||Southern|
|12||24||310||Bob Banaugh||Defensive back||Montana State|
|13||24||336||Franklin Roberts||Running back||Alcorn A&M|
|14||24||361||Marv Owens||Running back||San Diego State|
|15||24||388||Mike Sivert||Guard||East Tennessee State|
|17||24||440||Dick Schmalz||Wide receiver||Auburn|
- ^[a] Minnesota received New England's 1st round selection (10th overall), CB John Charles, and cash as compensation for free agent QB Joe Kapp.
- ^[b] Minnesota traded their 1st round selection (24th overall), 1973 2nd round selection (40th overall), QB Norm Snead, WR Bob Grim, and RB Vince Clements to the Giants for QB Fran Tarkenton.
- ^[c] Green Bay traded their 3rd round selection (59th overall) to Minnesota for QB Zeke Bratkowski.
- ^[d] Minnesota traded their 3rd round selection (76th overall), 1971 2nd round selection (50th overall), 1971 6th round selection (154th overall), and OL Steve Smith to Philadelphia for QB Norm Snead.
- ^[e] Minnesota traded their 4th round selection (102nd overall) and CB John Charles to Denver for WR Al Denson.
- ^[f] Minnesota traded their 5th round selection (128th overall) to Los Angeles for CB Ted Provost.
- ^[g] Minnesota originally chose 180th overall but passed allowing Miami to move up and Minnesota to choose 181st overall.
|1972 Minnesota Vikings roster|
| Offensive linemen
| Reserve lists
|1||August 12||San Diego Chargers||W 24–13||1–0||Metropolitan Stadium||47,900|
|2||August 18||at Buffalo Bills||L 10–21||1–1||War Memorial Stadium||41,006|
|3||August 26||at Cleveland Browns||W 20–17||2–1||Cleveland Stadium||70,583|
|4||September 4||Houston Oilers||W 26–14||3–1||Metropolitan Stadium||47,900|
|5||September 10||at Miami Dolphins||L 19–21||3–2||Miami Orange Bowl||74,298|
|1||September 18||Washington Redskins||L 21–24||0–1||Metropolitan Stadium||47,900|
|2||September 24||at Detroit Lions||W 34–10||1–1||Tiger Stadium||54,418|
|3||October 1||Miami Dolphins||L 14–16||1–2||Metropolitan Stadium||47,900|
|4||October 8||St. Louis Cardinals||L 17–19||1–3||Metropolitan Stadium||49,687|
|5||October 15||at Denver Broncos||W 23–20||2–3||Mile High Stadium||51,656|
|6||October 23||at Chicago Bears||L 10–13||2–4||Soldier Field||55,701|
|7||October 29||at Green Bay Packers||W 27–13||3–4||Lambeau Field||56,263|
|8||November 5||New Orleans Saints||W 37–6||4–4||Metropolitan Stadium||49,784|
|9||November 12||Detroit Lions||W 16–14||5–4||Metropolitan Stadium||49,784|
|10||November 19||at Los Angeles Rams||W 45–41||6–4||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||77,982|
|11||November 26||at Pittsburgh Steelers||L 10–23||6–5||Three Rivers Stadium||50,348|
|12||December 3||Chicago Bears||W 23–10||7–5||Metropolitan Stadium||49,784|
|13||December 10||Green Bay Packers||L 7–23||7–6||Metropolitan Stadium||49,784|
|14||December 16||at San Francisco 49ers||L 17–20||7–7||Candlestick Park||61,214|
Week 11 at SteelersEdit
Pittsburgh came into the game 5–0 at home for the season, while Minnesota was riding a four-game win streak. It was quite windy in the stadium at gametime, as the ball blew off the tee twice during the opening kickoff. Once it was kicked, the Vikings began with a good return to their own 45-yard line, but went 3-and-out. They got the ball back quickly on the Steelers' opening drive, as John Fuqua fumbled the ball on a bad exchange, recovered by Carl Eller at the Pittsburgh 20. The possession led to a 24-yard field goal after Minnesota only gained three yards. The Vikings followed with a low kickoff due to the wind conditions, and Pittsburgh started again from their own 48, but punted without a first down. The Vikings got the game rolling in an unusual way, extending their possession when Ed Marinaro fumbled a catch and teammate John Gilliam ran it across the 50-yard line. Despite a good drive, the Vikings were held scoreless after failing to gain a foot on a fourth down attempt at the 8. The Steelers then punted again, and late in the first quarter got a turnover at the Vikings' 12 when Bill Brown fumbled. Franco Harris scored untouched on the next play.
The Vikings continued their miscues in the second quarter, as their possession stalled with penalties and the snap was bobbled on the punt, although punter Mike Eischeid performed a fantastic improvised punt while scrambling. It began raining at this point, and after a Steelers punt, the Vikings drove all the way to the 4-yard line, only to settle for a bobbled field goal attempt for a turnover. The Steelers gave it back on an interception by Charlie West, but a field goal attempt by the Vikings from 50 missed badly. The half ended with the Steelers holding a 7–3 lead despite the Vikings holding a 140–84 edge in total yards.
The second half started with a Steelers punt, and then a Vikings punt which the Steelers fumbled at their own 47 after a good return. The Vikings recovered and drove to the 7-yard line but, incredibly, they again bobbled a field goal attempt and again failed to gain any points. On the following Steelers possession, they hit on a big play with a swing pass to Ron Shanklin, which went from their own 39 to the Vikings 19 and set up a field goal. The teams each traded punts twice, until the Vikings neared the goal line again on a 63-yard catch-and-run by John Gilliam. They finally found the end zone with the next play on a swing pass to tight end Stu Voigt, tying the score at 10–10 with about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers quickly responded with a 61-yard Franco Harris run to the 1, giving Harris 100-plus rushing yards for the fifth consecutive game. The Steelers scored with a QB sneak by Terry Bradshaw on the following play. The extra point was blocked, and the Steelers led 16–10. They quickly got the ball back, taking Minnesota's punt to the Vikings 39, but were held to a missed field goal attempt. The Vikings then took their last meaningful shot, but failed on fourth down at their own 29. The Steelers then sealed the game with a touchdown catch by Frank Lewis, making the final 23–10.
Awards, records, and honorsEdit
- First Team
- OT Ron Yary (AP)
- Second Team
- OT Ron Yary (NEA-2, PFWA-2)
- DE Carl Eller (AP-2)
- DT Alan Page (AP-2, NEA-2, PFWA-2)
- S Paul Krause (AP-2)
- John Gilliam – Yards per reception (22.0)
|Passing yards||Fran Tarkenton||2,651|
|Passing touchdowns||Fran Tarkenton||18|
|Rushing yards||Oscar Reed||639|
|Rushing touchdowns||Bill Brown||4|
|Receiving yards||John Gilliam||1,035|
|Receiving touchdowns||John Gilliam||7|
|Kickoff return yards||John Gilliam||369|
|Punt return yards||Charlie West||111|
|Category||Total yards||Yards per game|| NFL rank|
(out of 26)