1987 Minnesota Vikings season

1987 Minnesota Vikings season
Head coach Jerry Burns
General manager Mike Lynn
Home field Metrodome
Record 8–7
Division place 2nd NFC Central
Playoff finish Won Wild Card Playoffs (Saints) 44–10
Won Divisional Playoffs (49ers) 36–24
Lost Conference Championship (Redskins) 10–17

The 1987 Minnesota Vikings season was the team's 27th year in the National Football League. The Vikings finished with a record of eight wins and seven losses. The 1987 strike caused the cancellation of the September 27 game at the Kansas City Chiefs. The games played October 4, 11 and 18 were played with replacement players.

Despite finishing the season only one game over .500, and losing three of their final four games, Minnesota sneaked into the playoffs with the final Wild Card position. In the playoffs, the Vikings won two huge upsets, beating the 12–3 Saints and 13–2 49ers on the road. The Vikings were unable, however, to defeat the eventual Super Bowl champion Redskins in the NFC Championship Game.


1987 Draft

Main article: 1987 NFL draft
=Pro Bowler
1987 Minnesota Vikings Draft
Draft order Player name Position College Notes
Round Choice Overall
11414D. J. DozierRunning BackPenn Statefrom Dolphins[a]
1616Traded to the Miami Dolphins[a]
21644Ray BerryLinebackerBaylor
31672 Henry ThomasDefensive TackleLouisiana State
416100Reggie RutlandDefensive BackGeorgia Tech
516128Traded to the Miami Dolphins[a]
615156Greg RichardsonWide ReceiverAlabama
716184Traded to the Seattle Seahawks[b]
816211Rick FenneyRunning BackWashington
916239Leonard JonesDefensive BackTexas Tech
1016267Bob RileyOffensive TackleIndiana State
1116295Brent PeaseQuarterbackMontana
1216323Keith WilliamsDefensive TackleFlorida
^[a] Minnesota traded their 1st round selection (16th overall) and 5th round selection (128th overall) to Miami to move up 2 spots and make this pick.



1987 Minnesota Vikings staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Tom Batta


Final roster

1987 Minnesota Vikings final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
51 Active, 2 Inactive, 0 Practice squad

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
1 September 13, 1987 Detroit Lions W 34–19 Metrodome
2 September 20, 1987 at Los Angeles Rams W 21–16 Anaheim Stadium
September 27, 1987 at Kansas City Chiefs canceled Arrowhead Stadium
3 October 4, 1987 Green Bay Packers L 23–16 Metrodome
4 October 11, 1987 at Chicago Bears L 27–7 Soldier Field
5 October 18, 1987 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 20–10 Tampa Stadium
6 October 26, 1987 Denver Broncos W 34–27 Metrodome
7 November 1, 1987 at Seattle Seahawks L 28–17 Kingdome
8 November 8, 1987 Los Angeles Raiders W 31–20 Metrodome
9 November 15, 1987 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 23–17 Metrodome
10 November 22, 1987 Atlanta Falcons W 24–13 Metrodome
11 November 26, 1987 at Dallas Cowboys W 44–38 (OT) Texas Stadium
12 December 6, 1987 Chicago Bears L 30–24 Metrodome
13 December 13, 1987 at Green Bay Packers L 16–10 Milwaukee County Stadium
14 December 20, 1987 at Detroit Lions W 17–14 Silverdome
15 December 26, 1987 Washington Redskins L 27–24 (OT) Metrodome

Note: The October 18 game against Tampa Bay was originally scheduled to be played in Minneapolis. The game was switched with the November 15 game due to Game 2 of the World Series. The game against the Broncos, originally scheduled for Sunday, October 25, was pushed back to Monday because the Metrodome was being used for Game 7 of the World Series.

Game summaries

Week 11: at Dallas Cowboys

1 2 34OTTotal
Vikings 14 7 710644
Cowboys 0 14 1014038

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

Darrin Nelson's 24-yard touchdown run helped sealed the Vikings victory in an overtime thriller. It was the first time in 18 years the Vikings played on Thanksgiving.


NFC Central
Chicago Bears(2) 11 4 0 .733 7–0 9–2 356 282 W1
Minnesota Vikings(5) 8 7 0 .533 3–5 6–6 336 335 L1
Green Bay Packers 5 9 1 .367 3–4 4–7 255 300 L2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 11 0 .267 3–4 4–9 286 360 L8
Detroit Lions 4 11 0 .267 2–5 4–7 269 384 W1


NFC Wildcard Playoff Game

Minnesota Vikings 44, New Orleans Saints 10
1 2 34Total
Vikings 10 21 31044
Saints 7 3 0010

at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

In the Saints' first playoff game in history, the Vikings dominated the game by recording 2 sacks, forcing 4 turnovers, and allowing only 149 yards. The 34-point margin of victory stands as the most lop-sided win by an NFC team in a Wild Card round game in NFL history.

NFC Divisional Playoff Game

Minnesota Vikings 36, San Francisco 49ers 24
1 2 34Total
Vikings 3 17 10636
49ers 3 0 14724

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Jerry Rice set a single-season record for the 49ers with 22 touchdown receptions. This was an amazing feat when you consider that he achieved this goal in only 12 regular season contests (due to the players' strike). This record was later broken by Randy Moss in 2007 when he caught 23 touchdown passes in 16 games (originally, Randy played with the Vikings from 1998–2004 and was traded back to Minnesota in 2010)

NFC Championship Game

Washington Redskins 17, Minnesota Vikings 10
1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 7 0310
Redskins 7 0 3717

at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

In a defensive battle, the Redskins played a little better by limiting the Vikings to only 76 rushing yards and forcing 8 sacks. Washington scored first on a 98-yard drive that was capped by running back Kelvin Bryant's 42-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Doug Williams. However, Minnesota tied the game before halftime with quarterback Wade Wilson's 23-yard touchdown pass to Leo Lewis. In the third quarter, Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman returned an interception 10 yards to the Minnesota 17-yard line to set up kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh's 28-yard field goal. In the final period, Vikings kicker Chuck Nelson made an 18-yard field goal to tie the game, 10–10. The Redskins then marched 70 yards to score on Williams' 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Gary Clark to take the lead, 17–10, with 5:06 remaining in the game. Minnesota then advanced to the Washington 6-yard line, but Wilson's fourth down pass, intended for running back Darrin Nelson in the end zone was defended expertly by Darrell Green with 52 seconds remaining and the Redskins ran out the clock.


Team leaders

Category Player(s) Value
Passing Yards Wade Wilson 2,106
Passing Touchdowns Wade Wilson 14
Rushing Yards Darrin Nelson 642
Rushing Touchdowns D.J. Dozier
Wade Wilson
Receiving Yards Anthony Carter 922
Receiving Touchdowns Anthony Carter 7
Points Chuck Nelson 75
Kickoff Return Yards Neal Guggemos 808
Punt Return Yards Leo Lewis 275
Tackles Jesse Solomon 126
Sacks Chris Doleman 11.0
Interceptions Joey Browner 6
Forced Fumbles Chris Doleman 6

League rankings

Category Total yards Yards per game NFL rank
(out of 28)
Passing Offense 2,826 Yards 176.6 YPG 20th
Rushing Offense 1,983 Yards 123.9 YPG 11th
Total Offense 4,809 Yards 300.6 YPG 15th
Passing Defense 3,100 Yards 193.8 YPG 16th
Rushing Defense 1,724 Yards 107.8 YPG 11th
Total Defense 4,824 Yards 301.8 YPG 10th


  1. 2010 Minnesota Vikings Media Guide. p. 265. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
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