On Sunday afternoon against the Atlanta Falcons, the Minnesota Vikings did something that they hadn’t done in nearly 42 years.
In their 28-12 victory at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 1, the Vikings won despite attempting just ten passes. According to Pro Football Reference, it was the seventh time in franchise history that they had won a game in such a manner, and the first time they had done so since the day after Christmas in 1977. That’s nearly 42 years, if you’re scoring at home.
The 28 points were the most the Vikings had scored in a game where they attempted 10 or fewer passes, topping the previous high-water mark of 24 in a 1968 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Here’s a quick rundown of the other six games the Vikings have won while attempting 10 or fewer passes, as well as some of the other stats from those games.
11 November 1968 at Detroit Lions: Final score 13-6
Joe Kapp completed 6-of-10 passes for 126 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. The Vikings ran for 129 yards and got a pair of Fred Cox field goals and a 2-yard run from Jim Lindsey en route to the victory. The Vikings even had more turnovers than the Lions did in this one, as they gave the ball up three times compared to just once for Detroit.
15 December 1968 at Philadelphia Eagles: Final score 24-17
This one, as you probably guessed, was Kapp again. This time, he completed 7-of-10 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Kapp accounted for all three Vikings touchdowns, as he had a 2-yard run in addition to the two scoring passes. The Vikings ran for 139 yards on the afternoon. The turnovers were even in this one at two for each team.
14 December 1969 vs San Francisco 49ers: Final score 10-7
Hey, guess what? Yep. . .Joe Kapp again. This time, he completed just 4-of-10 attempts for 82 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He got a big completion when he needed it, though, hitting Gene Washington for a 52-yard score in the fourth quarter to give the purple a come-from-behind win. The Vikings ran for 111 yards, their lowest number in any of their seven victories in this category. Neither team could hold on to the ball, as they combined for seven turnovers in this one (four for the Niners, three for the Vikings).
26 October 1970 vs Los Angeles Rams: Final score 13-3
Your starting quarterback in this one was Gary Cuozzo, who went 5-for-9 for just 46 yards and a touchdown. He found Bill Brown for a 17-yard score in the first quarter, and that was just about it for his production on the afternoon. The Vikings rushed for 146 yards on a whopping 51 carries, and it probably helped quite a bit that the Rams fumbled the ball seven times on the afternoon (losing four of them).
27 November 1977 at Green Bay Packers: Final score 13-6
Bob Lee was your starting quarterback in this one, and he completed 5-of-8 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Those eight attempts mark the fewest pass attempts for a Vikings’ quarterback in a victory. That one touchdown accounted for nearly two-thirds of his yards, as he found Sammy White for a 40-yard score in the second quarter. The Vikings ran the ball 55 times on the day, which is only the second-highest number of rushing attempts they’ve had in a game in team history (they ran the ball 63 times in a victory over Atlanta in 1975). They gained 155 yards on the ground, and were again assisted by turnovers, as the Packers coughed it up four times.
26 December 1977 at Los Angeles Rams (NFC Divisional Playoffs): Final score 14-7
This was the famous “Mud Bowl” between the Rams and the Vikings at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Lee was the quarterback for this one, too, completing 5-of-10 passes for 57 yards. Both of the Vikings’ scores came on the ground, as Chuck Foreman and Sammy Johnson each found the end zone. The Vikings again won the turnover battle, this time 3-0, and the Rams actually attempted to pass the ball 32 times. Minnesota stayed on the ground, rushing 49 times for 144 yards.
I’m not sure if the “throwing the ball ten times” model is sustainable or anything, but as long as the Vikings put up more points to the bad guys, I don’t think anyone cares how this team wins. I know Mike Zimmer doesn’t.