What Do Vikings Do after Losing QB1? Go on Win Streaks.

Nov 6, 2005; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback #14 Brad Johnson hands off the ball to running back #23 Michael Bennett who gains 31 yards against the Detroit Lions on the first quarter play at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE Copyright (c) 2005 Bruce Kluckhohn.

Most Minnesota Vikings fans spent Sunday night melancholy after the team dropped the Green Bay Packers on Wisconsin grass, the first triumph for the purple team over the cheese one in the post-Aaron Rodgers era.

What Do Vikings Do after Losing QB1? Go on Win Streaks.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins left the game in the 4th Quarter with an injury, confirmed on Monday as an Achilles tear. Cousins won’t return in 2023 and is scheduled, for now, to hit free agency in four months.

So, the Vikings will roll over and die without their quarterback, who was performing at an unusually high level, right?

Do after Losing
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) signals his team against the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Nope. That’s not what the franchise usually does, at least.

In 2005, Minnesota lost Daunte Culpepper to an ACL and MCL tear, and the man never took another snap with white horns on his helmet. That was it for Culpepper, who also never returned to form anywhere despite attempts with the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions.

The Vikings were dead in the water — mere days after The Loveboat Scandal came to light — with a 2-5 record and an injured QB1.

October 30, 2005; Charlotte, NC, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback #11 Daunte Culpepper is helped off the field by a trainer and head coach Mike Tice after getting injured in the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE Copyright © 2005 Bob Donnan.

Game, set, match. The Vikings were cooked. Well, that’s what folks thought. Brad Johnson and his friends responded by winning six consecutive games — yes, like the moment Culpepper hit the shelf. Here’s what happened after Culpepper blew out his knee and Johnson took over:

  • Week 9 vs. DET — Win (27-14)
  • Week 10 at NYG — Win (24-21)
  • Week 11 at GB — Win (20-17)
  • Week 12 vs. CLE — Win (24-12)
  • Week 13 at DET — Win (21-16)
  • Week 14 vs. STL — Win (27-13)

Not bad.

The Vikings later lost two pivotal games versus AFC opponents and didn’t qualify for the postseason.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell in the tunnel against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Most would call this an outlier; teams aren’t supposed to improve after a Pro Bowl quarterback hits injured reserve. But then it happened again, 12 years later.

Sam Bradford led the charge in Minnesota to start the 2017 season, and the club lost Dalvin Cook, a rookie running back at the time, in Week 4. The following week, Bradford was injured for good, too, and like Culpepper in 2005, never played for the Vikings again.

But here’s what happened when Case Keenum took over for Bradford, starting with the Bears contest in Week 5:

  • Week 5 at CHI — Win (20-17)
  • Week 6 vs. GB — Win (23-10)
  • Week 7 vs. BAL — Win (24-16)
  • Week 8 at CLE — Win (33-16)
  • Week 9 BYE
  • Week 10 at WAS — Win (38-30)
  • Week 11 vs LAR — Win (24-7)
  • Week 12 at DET — Win (30-23)
  • Week 13 at ATL — Win (14-9)
Mike Zimmer
Nov 12, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Minnesota Vikings defeated Washington Redskins 38-30. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota later finished 13-3, created The Minneapolis Miracle over the New Orleans Saints, and lost in the NFC Championship to the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s tempting to believe this iteration of Vikings will meander through the rest of the season losing games because Cousins is out, but the franchise hasn’t really done that in the past facing adversity.

The Vikings somehow get better historically when the QB1 is lost to a season-ending injury.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.