The Top 30 Most Weird and Wild Moments of Vikings 2023 Season

Explained: 8 Items Learned from Vikings Final Preseason Game
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings capped a weird and wild season four weeks ago, winning just seven games and finishing in third place inside the NFC North.

The Top 30 Most Weird and Wild Moments of Vikings 2023 Season

The ride was beset by peaks, valleys, and oddities, so let’s re-live 30 of them. The weirdness is ranked in ascending order, so the weirdest item is at the bottom of the article.

30. The Awful “Luck Meter”

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A nightmarish ordeal, the Vikings were the unluckiest team in the NFL this season, by the numbers, and the Green Bay Packers were the luckiest. Because, of course, that’s how it’d turn out.

29. People Thought Andrew Booth Punched a Packer

Viking Deserves More
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Folks on social media tried to say, “Andrew Booth punched a Packers player,” but the observation was made up. A Packers personality inadvertently hit Aaron Jones. Too bad, so sad.

28. Adam Thielen Joins CAR Hoping to Win the Super Bowl

Weird and Wild
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings released Adam Thielen last March, an expected cap casualty amid Minnesota’s competitive rebuild phase. Thielen then joined the Panthers, a team he said could win the Super Bowl in 2023.

Carolina ended up with the NFL’s worst record.

27. All the Creed Stuff

Scott Stapp of Creed performs on stage during Coopstock at the Las Sendas Golf Club on April 30, 2022, in Mesa, Arizona. Entertainment Alice Cooper Coopstock Benefit For Solid Rock Teen Centers. © Alex Gould/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Almost every Vikings highlight was accompanied by Creed music for about three weeks. Life was humming, the Vikings were winning, and the purpose felt Higher.

Then, everything tunneled south.

26. Allegedly Willing to Trade up for Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson

Vikings Have Official
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) salutes while carrying a bag of Skittles in his mouth while walking on Steve Spurrier-Florida Field during Gator Walk at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 10, 2022. © Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK.

After the 2023 NFL Draft, some credible reporting suggested the Vikings wanted to trade up for Bryce Young if he tumbled out of the No. 1 spot. He didn’t.

Not long ago, Anthony Richardson was reportedly the guy Minnesota had circled for a splashy trade. It led folks to believe general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could make his move at quarterback this year. We shall see.

25. Death of Flores Defense Aligns with Nick Mullens as Starter

Flores Flourish
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Defense,
Per EPA/Play,
NFL Ranking,

Weeks 1-3 = 26th
Weeks 4-14 = 1st
Weeks 15-17 = 31st

The moment Nick Mullens took over as the starter, the Vikings’ defense died. Like to a tee. Had it not, Mullens might’ve had some Joe Flacco-like fanfare and media coverage.

24. Gunning the Final Play vs. LAC — and INT

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings offense thought it could gun it in a Week 3 game against the Chargers, hoping to keep Los Angeles’ defense off-balance on the final meaningful play. If T.J. Hockenson hauled in this pass, Kevin O’Connell would’ve been touted as brilliant. The pass was intercepted, and suddenly, the Vikings’ strategy was stupid.

23. Dalton Risner Campaigning to Join Vikings

Viking May Not Be Back
Former Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner on Monday Night Football during his first start with the Minnesota Vikings. U.S. Bank Stadium, October 23rd, 2023. Risner started for an injured Ezra Cleveland.

Risner told Vikings fans on Twitter for weeks that he’d like to join Minnesota’s roster. The Vikings eventually made it happen. Ask, and you shall receive.

22. No Run Game Improvement

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans were told all offseason that running the ball more efficiently was a foremost priority. Then this happened:

Vikings Rushing Offense DVOA:

2022 = 27th
2023 = 27th

Nothing changed, and the ground attacked might’ve regressed.

21. Jefferson’s Fumble Touchback at PHI

Only Week 6
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings + Justin Jefferson were victimized by “the worst rule in sports” in Week 2. The fumble-touchback rule stunted Minnesota’s momentum against the then-mighty Eagles when Jefferson stretched for the goal line and fumbled the rock out of the endzone. This rule could be changed this offseason.

20. Lions Fan Sign Applauds T.J. Hockenson’s Injury

Lions Lost
A fan reacts to a missed play leading to a punt during the Detroit Lions NFC Championship watch party at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. © Kimberly P. Mitchell / USA TODAY NETWORK.

This sign held by a Lions fan cheered the injuries to T.J. Hockenson and Rams TE Tyler Higbee. Days later, Detroit orchestrated the largest meltdown in NFC Championship history.

19. Ivan Pace Arrives — and Is a Stud

2 Vikings Snatch
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Ivan Pace told everyone on Instagram last spring, “Y’all done f–ked up” for not drafting him. He was right. Pace was voted First-Team All-Rookie in 2023 by the Pro Football Writers of America as a rookie.

18. Mike Florio Chides Kirk Cousins for Attending a Twins Game

Is the Competitive
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

In October, Cousins impromptu went to a Minnesota Twins playoff game. Cousins cannot do anything without folks getting mad, and the baseball game was no different.’s Mike Florio wrote about the event, “More specifically, are you willing to pass on going to a baseball game five days before facing Patrick Mahomes in a game that will result in your team being either 1-4 or 2-3? Cousins has every right to take the day off. Do you think Mahomes did? Do you think any of the great ones do?”

Florio added, “Again, Cousins has the right to take any and every Tuesday off that he wants. But as we search for reasons why there’s a ceiling over how much he can accomplish professionally, let’s not ignore a fairly important factor that is staring us right in the face.”

Soon after, Florio changed his tune on Cousins after the Vikings toppled the San Francisco 49ers.

17. The QB Carousel

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports. Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports. Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) drops back to throw a pass during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Life after Cousins was rough and tumble. Head coach Kevin O’Connell started and benched three quarterbacks before settling on Nick Mullens for good. Most Vikings were paranoid about a quarterback carousel after Cousins tore his Achilles, and the fear was completely reasonable. The carousel happened.

16. Adofo-Mensah + O’Connell Allegedly on Hotseat

Changing Thoughts
January 10th, 2024. Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center concluding the 2023 NFL regular season. Minnesota finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the postseason.

Right after the Vikings lost to the Detroit Lions — several fans wanted the Vikings to lose for a better draft pick — “fire Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell” fodder circulated the internet.

The duo has produced a 20-14 (.588) in the last two years, the ninth-best record in the NFL. Firing either after a 7-10 season sans the QB1 for half of it or Justin Jefferson for seven games would’ve been utter kneejerk lunacy.

15. T.J. Hockenson’s Ear Infection Healed by Contract Extension

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings’ tight end was hoping for a contract extension near the end of summer, and it eventually arrived. But he didn’t hit the practice field because of an ear infection in the meantime.

The moment he got paid, the ear malady seemed to fix itself.

14. Lewis Cine Buried on Depth Chart

Lewis Cine Is Doing
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

A favorite talker among Vikings fans, Cine didn’t see the field too much in 2023. Many attached the “bust” label to his resume. His leg snapped in October 2022, but few recognized that as a reason for his delayed development. Cine has an all-important 2024 season upcoming, and it didn’t help his on-the-field growth that Minnesota was unusually deep at safety with Harrison Smith, Josh Metellus, and Camryn Bynum.

13. When Justin Jefferson Would Be Mad about a Loss, Folks Would Say He Didn’t Want to Re-Sign with the Vikings

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Any time the Vikings lost a game and Jefferson was shown melancholy about the loss on the sidelines, fans could not stop themselves from tweeting, “He wants out of Minnesota. Look at him.” Or something to that effect.

Never mind the fact that he probably hates losing.

12. Fumbles in 1st Quarter

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly every Vikings game in the first half of the season featured a 1st Quarter fumble or interception. As soon as they fixed the problem, they rattled off five consecutive dubs. Funny how that works.

11. Marcus Davenport Disappears Entirely after High Ankle Sprain

News on One Forgotten
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

Davenport sprained his ankle in Week 6, and no one ever saw him again on a regular season field. Vanished.

10. Wes Phillips’ DUI

Vikings Coach Arrested
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Right before the Vikings traveled to Las Vegas, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was popped for a DUI. Very little came of it afterward.

9. Beating the Raiders 3-0

Nick Mullens Is Absolutely
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

This was the Vikings’ last win of the season. Brian Flores’ defense was in peak form, shutting out the Raiders 3-0. Joshua Dobbs found the bench late in the game, and Nick Mullens guided Minnesota to a game-winning field goal. Dobbs never took another snap for the Vikings.

8. Jake Browning Yelling at Vikings Executives + Coaches Not with the Team

Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback and current Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Jake Browning raged at a cameraman on December 16th, 2023. He yelled that the Vikings “never should have cut him” when those responsible for his 2021 release have no affiliation with the Vikings. Cincinnati won the game 27-24.

Inexplicably, former Vikings quarterback Jake Browning started yelling at Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer after his Bengals beat the Vikings in Week 15. Spielman and Zimmer haven’t worked for the Vikings in two years.

Jake Browning,
QB NFL Ranking,

Before Raging about Vikings = 2nd
After Raging about Vikings = 23rd

7. Anthony Barr Signs out of Nowhere

Rating the Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Folks were minding their business in November, and then bam — Minnesota fired up a reunion with Anthony Barr, a free agent at the time.

Through no fault of Barr personally, the Vikings started losing games right after he arrived and finished the season 1-5.

6. The Brandon Powell Tush Push

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings tried this play twice with Brandon Powell, not a mammoth human, as the tush pusher.

Most Vikings hated everything about the play but probably would’ve been mad, too, if Mullens had handed the ball to Chandler and he had been dropped for a loss.

5. Cousins’ Skol Chant

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the coolest moments of the season, Kirk Cousins showed up on Monday Night Football (New Year’s Eve) to sound the Gjallarhorn before a game against the Packers. His son was with him, and both dudes ripped off their shirts to pump up the crowd.

It was a fantastic bit, but the Vikings were spanked by Green Bay soon after.

4. Jordan Addison Popped for Driving 140 MPH

jordan addison show
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

Before he started scoring touchdowns in the regular season for the Vikings, Jordan Addison was cited for reckless driving in July. He was traveling 140 MPH, which obviously raised eyebrows. He claimed it was a dog emergency.

3. Cousins Tears Achilles at the Precise Moment Vikings Turn Season Around

Betting Odds for Kirk
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports.

In Week 8, Minnesota grabbed a 24-3 lead at Lambeau Field over the Packers, one week after defeating the 49ers at home in primetime. The season was truly turned around. The playoffs felt realistic. Cousins tore his Achilles 45 minutes later. That’s life for Minnesota sports fans.

2. Vikings Win 5 in a Row without Justin Jefferson

Predicts Unthinkable
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson injured his hamstring against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, dropping the Vikings to a stinky 1-4 record. He’d later miss seven games. Vikings fans wondered, “What are we going to do without Jefferson? This team is already terrible.”

They won the next five.

1. DobbsMania

The Passtronaut.

Minnesota traded for Dobbs two days after Cousins was lost for the season. He was inserted into the lineup five days later and had to learn Vikings football on the fly, with O’Connell telling him what to do in the huddle through a helmet speaker.

He sparked two Vikings wins and nudged the team back into postseason contention. The NFL featured Dobbs all over the place, and DobbsMania was really a thing.

The meter ran out after two games, though, and the quarterback carousel went full tilt.

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