Top 8 seasons by a Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Quarterback Case Keenum - MInnesota Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Quarterback Case Keenum - MInnesota Vikings /
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(Photo by Bruce Dierdorff/Getty Images) Steve Dils
(Photo by Bruce Dierdorff/Getty Images) Steve Dils /

8. Steve Dils (1983)

  • Record: 5-7
  • Stats: 2,840 yards, 11 touchdowns, 16 interceptions

Starting out the list is Steve Dils. Dils joined the Minnesota Vikings as a fourth-round draft pick from Stanford in 1979. Heading into 1983, his fourth as a pro, he made only three starts and opened the season as Tommy Kramer’s backup. A knee injury against Tampa Bay in Week 3 ended Kramer’s season and opened the way for Dils to show what he had. He finished the game, leading the Vikings to a 19-16 overtime win. Unfortunately, the winning did not continue from here.

In his stretch of 12 starts, he did win three in a row in Weeks 6–8, the last being another overtime win on the road, this time at Green Bay. Everything was looking great for the Vikings with a 6-2 record and leading the NFC Central Division by two games. Dils would only lead the Vikings to one more win over the next seven weeks dropping them to 7-8.

Wade Wilson, who will show up later, started the final game of the season getting the win to finish at 8-8, but out of the playoffs. Dils never started another game for the Vikings and his career in Minnesota was over in 1985.

7. Rich Gannon (1990)

  • Record: 5-7
  • Stats: 2,278 yards, 16 touchdowns, 16 interceptions

The New England Patriots selected Rich Gannon in the fourth round of the 1987 NFL draft and promptly traded him to the Vikings when he made it clear he wanted to play quarterback. Over his first three seasons with Minnesota, he threw only nine passes.

In 1990, Kramer after playing 13 seasons in Minnesota moved on to New Orleans and Wilson was named the starter. Wilson’s reign as starter lasted only three weeks after suffering a thumb injury in Week 3. This gave Gannon the chance to lead the Vikings over the next 12 weeks. It was a rocky beginning as he lost his first four starts. The team regrouped and followed this up with a five-game winning streak.

Coming off three consecutive seasons of making the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings were sitting at 6-6 and at in contention to compete for a wild-card berth. During the winning streak, Gannon threw seven touchdowns and rushed for another compiling a decent 96.7 passer rating.

Unfortunately for Gannon and the Vikings, things did not work out as they lost their last four games, three of them behind Gannon. Wilson made one more start Week 16 and suffered another injury that gave Gannon one last shot to even his record on the season—he failed. On a positive note, the Vikings finished tied for second in the division with Green Bay, Detroit, and Tampa Bay, all at 6-10.

Gannon’s time in Minnesota only lasted two more seasons and 23 more starts. He finished his career in Minnesota with a 19-16 record. He spent a season in Washington, another four in Kansas City then found himself with the Raiders in 1999. He started all 16 games that season and was selected to the Pro Bowl, the first of four straight seasons for him.

At the age of 37 in 2002 Gannon was named league MVP as he led the Raiders to an 11-5 record. The Raiders made it to the Super Bowl where they lost to Tampa Bay.