American Football Database
1972 Minnesota Vikings season
Head Coach Bud Grant
General Manager Jim Finks
Home Field Metropolitan Stadium
Record 7–7
Place 3rd NFC Central
Playoff Finish did not qualify
Previous season Next season
1971 1973

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.[1] 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.[2] 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 Draft

Pro Bowler
1972 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Choice Overall
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]
6 24 154 Amos Martin Linebacker Louisville
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
16 24 414 Neil Graff Quarterback Wisconsin
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

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists
  • None.

Practice squad

  • None.

Rookies in italics
44 Active, Inactive, Practice squad


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance [1]
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

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
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

Game Summaries

Week 11 at Steelers

Minnesota Vikings (6–4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7–3)
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 3 0 0 7


Steelers 7 0 3 13


at Three Rivers StadiumPittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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.


Template:1972 NFC Central standings

Awards, records, and honors


First Team
Second Team

Pro Bowlers

League leaders


Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
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
Points Fred Cox 97
Kickoff return yards John Gilliam 369
Punt return yards Charlie West 111
Interceptions Paul Krause 6

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 26)
Passing offense 2,523 180.2 4th
Rushing offense 1,740 124.3 20th
Total offense 4,263 304.5 12th
Passing defense 1,699 121.4 1st
Rushing defense 2,002 143.0 16th
Total defense 3,701 264.4 5th


AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Baltimore Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Buffalo Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit Los Angeles
Miami Houston Oakland Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego St. Louis Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Washington
1972 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl VII