The Vikings began their 2010 pre-season with a trip to Edward Jones Dome to take on the league's worst team from 2009, the St. Louis Rams. The Rams roster featured rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, signed as the #1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, the Vikings were without six members of their regular starting offense, including QB Brett Favre and RB Adrian Peterson. The Rams got the first touchdown of the game with 1:29 remaining in the first quarter, when Danny Amendola returned a Chris Kluwe punt for 93 yards. The Vikings responded with two TDs in the second quarter; first, backup QB Sage Rosenfels passed for two yards to wide receiver Logan Payne, before throwing a 65-yard TD pass to tight end Garrett Mills. Rosenfels got his third passing TD in the third quarter, with a 71-yard pass to WR Marko Mitchell. The victory was completed with 6:49 left in the game as fellow rookies – QB Joe Webb and TE Mickey Shuler – combined for a two-yard pass.
The Vikings' second preseason game took them to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. The game marked the return of quarterback Brett Favre to the Vikings' starting lineup, but he lasted just four plays; the first was a 13-yard pass to RB Adrian Peterson for a first down, but he was sacked for a loss of 10 yards two plays later and was replaced by Tarvaris Jackson for the Vikings' next drive.
By the time Favre took the field, the 49ers were already leading 7–0 via a 4-yard run from Anthony Dixon. It was not until the 2nd quarter that the Vikings got their first points on the board, with Ryan Longwell landing a 40-yard field goal. San Francisco responded with two Joe Nedney field goals in the second half before the Vikings' rookie QB Joe Webb took advantage of a gap in the 49ers defense to rush 48 yards for a touchdown, bringing Minnesota within three points with two minutes left to play. Kicker Rhys Lloyd attempted an onside kick, but it was recovered by San Francisco, and by the time the Vikings got the ball back they were on their own 8-yard line with 9 seconds left in the game. They attempted to go for the win, but Webb was sacked in the end zone for a safety as the clock ran out, giving the 49ers a 15–10 win.
The Vikings returned to the Metrodome in Week 3 for the first time since their 2010 Divisional Play-off to take on the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterback Brett Favre lasted for eight series and threw for 187 yards on 16 completions, but the Vikings only came away with 10 points while he was on the field. The first points of the game came from an interception of a Favre pass, as Seattle safety Earl Thomas got to the ball ahead of wide receiver Bernard Berrian and returned it for an 86-yard touchdown. Nevertheless, Darius Reynaud returned the ensuing kickoff for 73 yards, giving Adrian Peterson the opportunity to rush 23 yards in two plays to level the scores at 7–7. Olindo Mare and Ryan Longwell then traded field goals to make the scores 10–10 at halftime. Another field goal from Mare put the Seahawks ahead on their first drive of the second half, but the Vikings responded with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels to new wide receiver Javon Walker with just over seven minutes left in the game. Minnesota sealed the win with less than three minutes on the clock, when Joe Webb tossed the ball seven yards for fullback Ryan D'Imperio to return the Vikings to a winning preseason record.
The Vikings completed their preseason schedule with a home game against the Denver Broncos. To accommodate the Vikings playing in the 2010 NFL Kickoff game the following Thursday, this game was also played on a Thursday, and head coach Brad Childress opted to rest the majority of his starting lineup. As in each of their three previous preseason games, the Vikings conceded the first points of the game, allowing LenDale White to rush two yards into the endzone and convert on 2nd-and-goal. The Vikings were unable to earn a first down on each of their first three series, but after punting on the third, the Broncos' rookie quarterback Tim Tebow fumbled the snap on their return drive; Erin Henderson picked up the loose ball and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Ryan Longwell put Minnesota ahead with a 27-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter, and from that point the Vikings never relinquished their lead. Albert Young then converted a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line to give Minnesota a 10-point lead at halftime. The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, as Tebow threw a 39-yard pass to Matthew Willis for Denver,
and Ian Johnson rushed 4 yards for Minnesota. A 14-yard pass from Brady Quinn to Alric Arnett brought the Broncos to within 3 points going into the last 12 minutes of the game, but on the very next series, Joe Webb threw a 63-yard pass to a wide open Javon Walker on the right side of the field, and the wide receiver walked into the end zone. Broncos kicker Matt Prater completed the scoring with a 49-yard field goal with just under 5 minutes left, giving the Vikings a 31–24 win and a 3–1 preseason record.
The Vikings began the 2010 NFL season by taking part in the annual NFL Kickoff Game against the defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, in a rematch of the previous season's NFC Championship Game. Minnesota lost the coin toss and gave up a touchdown on the first drive of the game; New Orleans received the ball from the kickoff and then took 5 plays to go 77 yards, culminating with Drew Brees passing 29 yards down the right sideline for WR Devery Henderson, who dived into the endzone for the score. The 1st quarter ended with the Vikings defense forcing the Saints to go 3-and-out, with the subsequent punt beginning the 2nd quarter.
The Vikings began the next drive at their own 11-yard line, before taking 16 plays to go 66 yards and into field goal range. They failed to convert on 3rd down at the New Orleans 23-yard line, giving Ryan Longwell the chance to score a 41-yard field goal. Minnesota forced another 3-and-out on the Saints' next possession, but Bernard Berrian muffed the catch on the punt return, and the Vikings began their next drive at their own 18-yard line. To rub salt in the wound, on the 3rd play of the drive, Brett Favre was hit hard by Roman Harper and he threw a pass right into the hands of Saints MLB Jonathan Vilma. With less than 90 seconds left in the half, Garrett Hartley stepped up for a 46-yard field goal attempt, but he hooked the kick wide left of the uprights. Beginning at the 36-yard line with 1:19 left in the half, Favre controlled the clock and picked up a 1st down before throwing consecutive 33-yard and 20-yard passes to TE Visanthe Shiancoe for the Vikings' first touchdown of the season. Ryan Longwell's extra point attempt was blocked by DT Remi Ayodele, but the Vikings went in at the half with a 2-point lead.
After receiving the ball to start the second half, the Vikings were unable to get past midfield and gave the ball back to the Saints on the New Orleans 26-yard line. In the space of 10 plays, the Saints were up to the Minnesota 1-yard line, from where Pierre Thomas was able to jump over the line of scrimmage to restore New Orleans' lead. In the 4th quarter, the Saints had another shot at a field goal, this time from 32 yards, but again Hartley pulled the kick wide of the posts. New Orleans got the ball back with 5:32 left in the game, and ran out the clock to claim a 14–9 win.
Week 2 saw the Vikings make their regular season return to Mall of America Field with an interconference matchup against the Miami Dolphins, who they had not played since Week 11 of the 2006 season. Yet again, Minnesota conceded the first points of the game – on Miami's first offensive play of the game, Chad Henne threw a 46-yard pass to Brandon Marshall to get the Dolphins to the Minnesota 27-yard line; eight plays later, they had the ball in the endzone via a 5-yard pass from Henne to WR Brian Hartline. The 2nd quarter saw Brett Favre throw his second interception of the season – his first of four turnovers during the game. The second came midway through the 3rd quarter, when the 21-year veteran fumbled on a sack into his own endzone; the ball was recovered by Dolphins LB Koa Misi to give Miami a two-possession lead.
A Minnesota fightback began soon after, but not before Favre threw another interception, picked off by CB Jason Allen at the Miami 2-yard line. However, on Miami's first play after the turnover, RB Ricky Williams fumbled during a tackle by LB E. J. Henderson; Henderson's brother Erin recovered the ball and made his way to the 1-yard line, giving the Vikings a 1st-and-goal opportunity. Favre failed to pick out TE Visanthe Shiancoe with the first play of the drive before allowing Adrian Peterson to barge through the line of scrimmage for the touchdown. A 13-play drive at the start of the 4th quarter got the Vikings into the Dolphins' redzone, but staunch defense forced them to settle for a 28-yard field goal.
With just under six minutes left in the game, Minnesota DT Pat Williams forced another Miami fumble, recovered by E. J. Henderson 24 yards from the Miami endzone. A succession of rushing attempts from Adrian Peterson followed, getting the Vikings to within a yard of a go-ahead touchdown, but LB Karlos Dansby stopped him short of the line on 4th-and-goal. The Vikings had one more attempt to steal the win inside the final two minutes, but Favre's attempted pass to Shiancoe on 4th-and-6 from the Dolphins' 27 fell incomplete, allowing Henne to run the game out with a kneeldown, condemning the Vikings to two defeats in two.
The Vikings stayed at home for their Week 3 encounter with their divisional rivals, the Detroit Lions. Both teams went into the game with 0–2 records, hoping to move away from the bottom of the division standings. Deep into the 1st quarter, Vikings QB Brett Favre continued his interception-throwing form, as he was picked off by Lions DT Corey Williams while attempting to throw a short pass to RB Toby Gerhart. Williams set off on a run, but Gerhart recovered to bring him down at the Minnesota 12-yard line. Three short plays later, Detroit had the ball in the end zone, QB Shaun Hill finishing off the drive with a 5-yard pass to TE Tony Scheffler. The Vikings were forced to punt the ball away on their first drive after the touchdown, but Detroit PR Stefan Logan fumbled while attempting to catch the ball, which was recovered by Vikings LB Chad Greenway 24 yards from the Detroit goal line. With the first play of the drive, Favre threw a 24-yard pass to WR Percy Harvin, who made a diving catch for the game-tying touchdown. Detroit's next drive resulted in a missed field goal, allowing the Vikings to go 66 yards back down the field for a touchdown, finished off by a 6-yard run from Adrian Peterson. With a minute left in the first half, Favre was picked off yet again, as his throwing arm was hit by Lions DE Cliff Avril, giving Alphonso Smith a simple interception. The Lions drove 36 yards into the Minnesota half, and Jason Hanson ended the 2nd quarter with a field goal from 33 yards.
Minnesota began the second half with the ball and took 10 plays to get into the Detroit red zone; however, the Detroit defense stood firm and the Vikings were limited to a 31-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell. The Lions managed to get back into the Minnesota half on their next possession, but they went 3-and-out on the Minnesota 41-yard line before punting into the end zone for a touchback. On the very next play, Vikings HB Adrian Peterson broke a career-long 80-yard run for a touchdown to put Minnesota 24–10 up. On Detroit's next possession, a sack on 3rd-and-20 by Vikings DE Brian Robison on QB Shaun Hill sparked a mass brawl between the two teams. As the defense made their way off the field, Brett Favre was seen giving them vigorous verbal encouragement. Midway through the 4th quarter, Minnesota RB Toby Gerhart fumbled the ball in a tackle, and it was recovered by Detroit FS Louis Delmas. The Lions then drove back down the field from their own 22-yard line to within 4 yards of the Minnesota end zone in just under 5 minutes. However, on 1st-and-goal, Vikings LB Ben Leber intercepted Shaun Hill's attempted pass to RB Maurice Morris inside the end zone before returning it to the Minnesota 18-yard line. The Vikings failed in their attempt to run the clock down to the two-minute warning and had to punt the ball away, giving the Lions one final chance to reduce their deficit. Beginning the drive at their own 38-yard line, they got to the Minnesota 10-yard line within seven plays, but CB Antoine Winfield intercepted Hill's attempt at another touchdown pass to Tony Scheffler inside the endzone for a touchback with only a minute to go. Brett Favre knelt the ball down to run out the clock and the Vikings picked up their first win of the regular season.
The Vikings took their 2010 bye week in Week 4 of the season – their earliest bye week since the 2004 season. There were mixed results for their divisional rivals, with the Green Bay Packers beating the Detroit Lions by 2 points, while the Chicago Bears were beaten 17–3 by the New York Giants.
In the days leading to their Week 5 game, the Vikings pulled off a dramatic trade, acquiring receiver Randy Moss from the New England Patriots. The move reunited Moss with the team that drafted him in 1998 and came after Moss caught 50 touchdowns with New England, including a one-handed touchdown catch against the Jets four weeks earlier.
Coming off their bye week, the Vikings flew to New Meadowlands Stadium for a Week 5 interconference duel with the New York Jets on Monday night. Minnesota trailed early in the first quarter as Jets kicker Nick Folk got a 25-yard field goal. The Vikings' deficit increased in the second quarter as Folk made a 53-yard and a 22-yard field goal.
Minnesota's frustrations continued in the third quarter as Folk got a 34-yard field goal. The Vikings would respond as quarterback Brett Favre threw his 500th career touchdown pass by finding wide receiver Randy Moss on a 37-yard touchdown pass, but New York answered with Folk's 31-yard field goal. After the delay at the end of the third quarter due to adverse weather conditions the Vikings would strike back in the fourth quarter as Favre found wide receiver Percy Harvin on a 34-yard touchdown pass (with a failed 2-point conversion), but the Jets replied with a 23-yard touchdown run from running back Shonn Greene. Minnesota tried to rally as Favre found Harvin again on an 11-yard touchdown pass, but New York would put the game away as cornerback Dwight Lowery returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown.
Hoping to rebound from their road loss to the Jets and save their season, the Vikings went home for a Week 6 duel with the Dallas Cowboys, in a rematch of last year's Divisional Playoff game, won 34–3 by the Vikings. Minnesota trailed in the first quarter as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Roy Williams. The Vikings answered with quarterback Brett Favre finding wide receiver Greg Camarillo on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Dallas struck back in the second quarter as Romo found Williams again on a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Minnesota took the lead in the third quarter as wide receiver Percy Harvin returned the half's opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, followed by a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Adrian Peterson. The Cowboys tied the game in the fourth quarter as Romo threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant. Afterwards, the Vikings closed out the game as kicker Ryan Longwell booted a 38-yard field goal.
Coming off their home win over the Cowboys, the Vikings flew to Lambeau Field for a Week 7 NFC North Sunday night duel with the Green Bay Packers, as quarterback Brett Favre made his return to take on his former team, in their first meeting on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Minnesota trailed early in the first quarter as Packers running back Brandon Jackson got a 1-yard touchdown run. Afterwards, the Vikings responded as wide receiver Percy Harvin got a 17-yard touchdown run. Green Bay struck back in the second quarter as quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless, yet Minnesota took the lead with running back Adrian Peterson getting a 1-yard touchdown run, followed by kicker Ryan Longwell booting a 28-yard field goal.
The Packers began the third quarter with Rodgers completing a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings, followed by linebacker Desmond Bishop returning a Favre interception 32 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings would answer with Favre finding wide receiver Randy Moss on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Minnesota tried to rally in the fourth quarter with an apparent 30-yard touchdown pass from Favre to Harvin with 48 seconds left which would have been the game winner, but Harvin had apparently only one foot in bounds, nullifying the touchdown. Favre tried two more times to get into the end zone, but Green Bay's defense held for the win.
In the second quarter, the Vikings took the lead after RB Adrian Peterson got a 1-yard TD run. The Patriots replied with RB Danny Woodhead getting a 3-yard TD run. The Vikings got the lead back in the third quarter with kicker Ryan Longwell nailing a 24-yard field goal. They fell behind with QB Tom Brady completing a 65-yard TD pass to WR Brandon Tate, and when RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis made a 13-yard TD run. They tried to come back in the 4th quarter after QB Tarvaris Jackson completed a 1-yard TD pass to FB Naufahu Tahi (with a successful 2-point conversion as Jackson passed to WR Percy Harvin) but couldn't do anything after Green-Ellis got a 2-yard TD run.
The Vikings came into Week 9 in desperation mode as they went against the 3–4 Cardinals, whom they lost the previous December in the desert. The Vikings came into the game wearing their purple pants and played the Cardinals in what was arguably a desperation game not only for the season, but head coach Brad Childress' job. His job had become more scrutinized after he acted alone to cut WR Randy Moss, which drew a bunch of boos and jeers at Childress. However, the action did not start until the 2nd quarter, when the Vikings drove down the field and had a 2nd and goal. Favre threw to Peterson behind the line, but Peterson dodged a few players and got into the end zone, which made the game 7–0 in the 2nd quarter. The very next play, when the Vikings kicked off, Stephens-Howling returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown which tied the game. After that, the Vikings responded with kicker Ryan Longwell nailing a 21-yard field goal. They fell behind with QB Derek Anderson completing a 30-yard TD pass to WR Andre Roberts to close out the first half. This was followed by DB Michael Adams returning a Percy Harvin kickoff fumble 30 yards for a touchdown, and with kicker Jay Feely making a 22-yard field goal. The lead was closed down by Peterson as he got a 4-yard TD run, and by QB Brett Favre's 25-yard TD pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe. In overtime the decision was made when Longwell successfully made a 35-yard field goal to give the Vikings the win, bringing their record up to 3–5 and temporarily saving their quarterback's and head coach's jobs.
Coming off their win over the Cardinals the Vikings flew to Soldier Field for an NFC North rivalry match against the Bears. In the first quarter the Vikings took the lead after kicker Ryan Longwell hit a 36-yard field goal. They fell behind in the second quarter when QB Jay Cutler threw a 17-yard TD pass to TE Greg Olsen. They got the lead back after QB Brett Favre completed a 53-yard TD pass to WR Percy Harvin. They trailed again when Cutler got a 19-yard TD pass to WR Devin Hester. The Bears extended their lead in the third quarter after kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 34-yard field goal. The Vikings replied with Longwell making a 33-yard field goal, but fell further behind with Gould hitting a 37-yard field goal, and in the 4th quarter with Cutler making a 19-yard TD pass to TE Kellen Davis.
Hoping to rebound from their loss to the Bears the Vikings played on home ground for an NFC North rivalry match against the Packers. In the 1st quarter the Vikings took the lead as kicker Ryan Longwell hit a 24-yard field goal. They fell behind from the second quarter onwards as the Packers rallied with kicker Mason Crosby making a 42-yard field goal, followed by QB Aaron Rodgers completing an 11-yard TD pass to WR Greg Jennings, followed by his 3-yard TD pass to WR James Jones. In the second half Rodgers connected with Jennings again on a 46 and then a 22-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter to finish off the Vikings.
The Vikings' eleventh game was an NFC duel with the Redskins at FedExField. In the 1st quarter the Vikings trailed early as QB Donovan McNabb completed a 10-yard TD pass to TE Fred Davis. They replied as RB Adrian Peterson got a 5-yard TD run. The Vikings pulled ahead with RB Toby Gerhart getting a 5-yard TD run, followed by kicker Ryan Longwell nailing a 31-yard field goal. The Redskins tried to come back, but only came away with 40-yard and a 42-yard field goals from kicker Graham Gano, giving the Vikings the win.
The Vikings' twelfth game was an interconference duel with the Bills inside their dome and the first home game for interim head coach Leslie Frazier. On their first series, QB Brett Favre attempted a pass, but he was hit from behind and was intercepted by Bills CB Drayton Florence. Favre was slow to get up afterwards and he was able to walk off the field on his own power, but did not return to the game, citing a shoulder injury (later revealed to be a sprain in his throwing shoulder). In his place, backup QB Tarvaris Jackson took over for the rest of the game. They got off to a bad start after Jackson's pass was intercepted by CB Drayton Florence and returned 40 yards for a touchdown. They overcame this deficit with Jackson getting a 31-yard TD pass to WR Sidney Rice. It was originally ruled an interception, but Frazier challenged the play and the officials sided with the Vikings, saying that Rice had two hands on the ball, resulting in a touchdown. It was followed in the second quarter by RB Adrian Peterson getting a 2-yard and a 3-yard TD run. Then Jackson found Rice again on a 6-yard TD pass, followed by kicker Ryan Longwell nailing a 38-yard field goal. They continued to dominate in the fourth quarter when Peterson ran 43 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The Bills responded with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick getting a 12-yard TD pass to TE David Martin. However, the Bills were unable to overcome such a large deficit and couldn't come up with another come-from-behind victory.
Originally scheduled for 12:00 p.m. CST on Sunday, December 12, this game was moved to Monday night after severe blizzard conditions in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area that forced the Giants to spend the night in Kansas City after their flight was diverted, while the operators of the Metrodome asked for more time to clear all the snow from the stadium's bubbled roof. The roof later collapsed, forcing the NFL to use Ford Field in Detroit as an alternate site. Despite the one day delay, Brett Favre was listed as inactive for the game due to his shoulder injury. With the loss, the Vikings dropped to 5–8, and were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
The Vikings' 14th game was a division rivalry rematch against the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium which was played on Monday Night. In the first quarter the Vikings took the lead with QB Brett Favre throwing a 23-yard TD pass to WR Percy Harvin. However, they failed to maintain this lead after kickier Robbie Gould made a 29-yard field goal, followed by QB Jay Cutler completing a 67 and a 15-yard TD pass to wide receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester respectively, then with Gould nailing a 23-yard field goal. The Vikings caused more problems after a three-and-out converted into a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown by Hester. They tried to break the lead with QB Joe Webb scrambling 13 yards for a touchdown, but they continued to struggle after Cutler got a 9-yard TD pass to WR Rashied Davis, followed by Gould hitting a 34 and a 20-yard field goal.
The December 2010 North American blizzard postponed the game until Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. The NFL postponed the game shortly after noon, even before there was any snow accmuluation in Philadelphia, after Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency for the city. This was the 20th NFL game and the first to be played on a Tuesday since 1946. This was also the first Tuesday game in Vikings franchise history.
Trying to snap a two-game losing streak, the Vikings flew to Lincoln Financial Field for a Week 16 intraconference duel with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday night. Minnesota trailed in the first quarter as Eagles quarterback Michael Vick completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clay Harbor. The Vikings answered in the second quarter with cornerback Antoine Winfield returning a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown.
Minnesota took the lead in the third quarter with a 30-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Longwell, followed by a 9-yard touchdown run from rookie quarterback Joe Webb. Philadelphia struck back with Vick getting a 10-yard touchdown run which cut the lead to a field goal, but the Vikings came right back with a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings' final game was a division rivalry rematch against the Lions. In the second quarter the Vikings trailed early as kicker Dave Rayner nailed a 55-yard field goal, followed by QB Shaun Hill completing a 7-yard TD pass to WR Nate Burleson, followed by Rayner making a 37-yard field goal. The Vikings got on the board too as an interception was returned 36 yards for a touchdown by DE Jared Allen. This was followed by kicker Ryan Longwell hitting a 27-yard field goal. Detroit extended their lead with RB Maurice Morris getting a 5-yard TD run. The Vikings tried to come back, but only came away with a 48-yard field goal from Longwell, giving the Vikings a loss and thus closing out the season on a 6–10 record.