As an organization, the Vikings are known for fearsome defenses and losing four Super Bowls.
A sneaky thing that is also part of their organizational lore: Seasons saved by backup quarterbacks. As such, here is a ranking of the best performances by backup quarterbacks in Vikings history, going from 10 down to 1:
10) Bob Lee, 1970: Lee went 2-0 in his two starts as a backup that season for the Vikings, who finished 12-2 but lost to San Francisco in the playoff opener. Lee went 9-2 in his 11 starts for the Vikings over the years and was also their full-time punter for two seasons.
9) Sean Salisbury, 1992: He took over for Rich Gannon down the stretch and went 3-1 as a starter, though he loses points for putting up a clunker as the playoff starter that year in a 24-7 loss to Washington.
8) Rich Gannon, 1991: Wade Wilson was the starter at the beginning of the year, but the Vikings lost three of their first five games — scoring six points or fewer in all three losses. Gannon started 11 games, going 6-5 while throwing 12 TD passes to just six INTs.
7) Gus Frerotte, 2008: The Vikings turned to Frerotte after an 0-2 start to the season by Tarvaris Jackson, and while his numbers weren’t great (12 TDs, 15 INTs) he played well enough to earn an 8-3 record as a starter that year. Jackson reclaimed the job late in the season and the Vikings finished 10-6, losing to the Eagles in the playoffs.
6) Brad Johnson, 1996: Warren Moon started eight games that year. Johnson did, too. The Vikings were 5-3 in Johnson’s games, and he threw 17 TD passes to just nine interceptions — much better numbers than Moon had that year. He helped the Vikings squeak into the playoffs at 9-7, where they were demolished by Dallas.
5) Brad Johnson, 2005: The only man to make this list twice, Johnson took over after Daunte Culpepper’s knee injury — when the Vikings were 2-5 — and somehow went 7-2 as a starter and kept the Vikings in contention until they ultimately missed the playoffs at 9-7.
4) Wade Wilson, 1987: Tommy Kramer was the starter going into the year, but injuries caught up to him. Wilson went 5-2 as a starter during the regular season and engineered two huge playoff upsets over New Orleans and San Francisco before falling to Washington in the NFC title game.
3) Jeff George, 1999: Randall Cunningham’s 1998 magic wore off quickly in 1999, so it was George to the rescue. He went 8-2 as a starter (with 23 TD passes to just 12 INTs) and won a playoff game over Dallas before the Vikings fell to the Rams 49-37 in the divisional round (a game in which George threw for 423 yards).
2) Case Keenum, 2017: The Vikings are taking their QB situation week-to-week, but for seven weeks in a row that’s mean wins with Keenum leading the way. Regardless of whether he gets to finish the year out or if Teddy Bridgewater takes over at some point, Keenum has saved this season and then some.
1) Randall Cunningham, 1998: Nothing, though, will top going from being Johnson’s backup to engineering one of the greatest offenses in NFL history after an early injury to Johnson. That’s what Cunningham did in 1998, throwing 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while getting the 15-1 Vikings within a whisper of the Super Bowl.