Ranking the Top Five Single Season QB Performances in Vikings History

Will Ragatz

Kirk Cousins was outstanding in 2019.

He had his ups and downs, but from an overall perspective, Cousins was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season. In his second year with the Vikings, he put together the best season of his career and convinced Minnesota's front office to extend him through 2022.

Statistically, his season was one of the best in Vikings history. But how high does it rank? Here's our list of the top five.

Just missed the cut:

  • Case Keenum, 2017
  • Sam Bradford, 2016
  • Daunte Culpepper, 2003
  • Fran Tarkenton, 1975
  • Kirk Cousins, 2018
  • Tommy Kramer, 1986
  • Warren Moon, 1995

5. Daunte Culpepper, 2000

  • Yards: 3,937
  • Touchdowns: 33
  • Interceptions: 16
  • Passer rating: 98.0
  • Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt (ANY/A): 7.28
  • Win-loss record as starter: 11-5

The No. 11 overall pick in 1999, Culpepper sat on the bench behind Randall Cunningham and Jeff George during his rookie year. But in 2000, at just 23 years old, Culpepper seized the job and put together an incredible first season as a starter. With Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Robert Smith as his primary weapons, Culpepper tied Peyton Manning for the most passing touchdowns in the league. He also ran for 470 yards and seven touchdowns, including three rushing TDs in his first career start. Culpepper led the Vikings to a 7-0 start and helped them reach the NFC title game.

4. Kirk Cousins, 2019

  • Yards: 3,603
  • Touchdowns: 26
  • Interceptions: 6
  • Passer rating: 107.4
  • ANY/A: 7.73
  • Win-loss record as starter: 10-5

Cousins checks in at No. 4 on this list after taking a major step forward in 2019. In an offense tailored to his strengths as a play-action passer, Cousins was remarkably efficient and explosive. Even with Adam Thielen out for much of the year, Cousins put together easily the best season of his career in his fifth year as a starter. And by beating the Saints in the first round of the playoffs, Cousins finally picked up a signature victory.

3. Brett Favre, 2009

  • Yards: 4,202
  • Touchdowns: 33
  • Interceptions: 7
  • Passer rating: 107.2
  • ANY/A: 7.61
  • Win-loss record as starter: 12-4

The Vikings convinced their longtime nemesis to come out of retirement (again) and play for them in 2009, and he didn't disappoint. In fact, Favre put together the best statistical season of his career at age 40. He threw just seven interceptions, which is notable when you consider that he threw 13 or more picks in each of his other 18 seasons as a starter. He helped Sidney Rice have a career year, and led the Vikings to their first playoff win since 2004.

2. Daunte Culpepper, 2004

  • Yards: 4,717
  • Touchdowns: 39
  • Interceptions: 11
  • Passer rating: 110.9
  • ANY/A: 8.02
  • Win-loss record as starter: 8-8

Culpepper's best season with the Vikings came in 2004, when he set team records for yards, touchdowns, and passer rating that still stand 16 years later. He also ran for 400+ yards for the fifth straight season. Culpepper's big, accurate arm and dual-threat ability helped carry the Vikings to the second round of the playoffs. Perhaps most impressively, Culpepper posted those numbers despite Moss being hurt for a good chunk of the year. At times, his top three pass-catchers were Nate Burleson, Jermaine Wiggins, and Marcus Robinson.

1. Randall Cunningham, 1998

  • Yards: 3,704
  • Touchdowns: 34
  • Interceptions: 10
  • Passer rating: 106.0
  • ANY/A: 8.54
  • Win-loss record as starter: 13-1

The best single-season QB performance in Vikings history came courtesy of Cunningham in 1998. You can make an argument for Cousins, Favre, or Culpepper based on statistics, but Cunningham takes the top spot because of his 13-1 record as a starter. In his second season with the Vikings, the 35-year-old Cunningham played the best football of his career. With a rookie Moss joining Carter, Smith, and Jake Reed, Cunningham had a dynamic group of talent around him, and he led the Vikings to the NFC championship game.

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Comments (4)
No. 1-2
CousinsHomer
CousinsHomer

Wait, what? Chuck Forman just told us that Cousins isn't a top 20 QB in the league, and hasn't done anything since he's been with the Vikings. So who's uninformed, and blinded by race..? Just sayin'...

VikingLove
VikingLove

75 Fran Tarkenton should be in the top five. He lead the league in TDs, a 91 QB Rating (very good for the era), and was named Associate Press MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. The 2019 Cousins and 2000 Culpepper were good years, but neither had accolades like Tarkenton 1975.

Also the 1995 Warren Moon year should have received strong consideration

2 Replies

Will Ragatz
Will Ragatz

Editor

You make a compelling case! I'm fairly young so I'm admittedly biased towards seasons that I remember well. Especially in the case of Tarkenton (and maybe Kramer), it may have been a mistake on my end to rely too heavily on raw numbers and not adjust for era. '75 Tarkenton doesn't have the same numbers as some of the modern seasons he was competing with, but you're right, winning an MVP probably should've gotten him on the list.

VikingLove
VikingLove

You added Warren Moon to the honorable mention! That is awesome. Moon was the first Viking QB to throw for 4000 yards.


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