Vikings Force Seven Turnovers, Roll to Easy 39-10 Victory Over Chargers
The Vikings didn't need to do a whole lot to beat the Chargers on Sunday.
Simply getting out of the way and letting their opponent shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly was all it took. The Chargers lived up to their reputation for self-sabotaging, turning the ball over a whopping seven times on the afternoon (four fumbles, three interceptions) as the Vikings cruised to a 39-10 win in Los Angeles.
While the Chargers deserve plenty of blame for turning the ball over as much as they did, the Vikings defense should also be credited for its level of play. Some of the turnovers were gifts, but some were a result of the defense flying around and making plays. Danielle Hunter was an unblockable menace, forcing two fumbles and recovering another. In total, it was the first seven-takeaway performance for the Vikings since 1995.
Everything changed on one play late in the first half. With the Chargers down 12-10 but driving, it appeared they would have a chance to take the lead heading into halftime. Instead, Hunter forced a Philip Rivers fumble, which was scooped up by Ifeadi Odenigbo and taken to the house.
All of a sudden, the Vikings were up 19-10 at halftime. Four Chargers turnovers in the second half turned a once-tight game into a blowout.
Without the turnover barrage, the game probably would've been close throughout. The Vikings didn't look great in the first half, as their pass defense continued to struggle. Kirk Cousins didn't do much, throwing for 207 yards and a touchdown, plus a bad interception on a screen pass.
Comically, the Chargers actually out-gained the Vikings on the day, 345 to 344. They ran one fewer play, were better on third down, and were close in time of possession. They just happened to turn the ball over seven times.
Dalvin Cook left the game in the third quarter with what was deemed a shoulder injury. It may just have been a flare-up of the upper body injury he's been dealing with of late, but we'll update when we know more. With Cook out and Alexander Mattison inactive, Mike Boone was the feature back down the stretch. He scored the first two touchdowns of his career while running for 56 yards on 13 carries.
It was an uneventful day for the Vikings' passing game. Outside of an Irv Smith Jr. touchdown to open the scoring and a couple chunk plays to Stefon Diggs, there weren't many notable moments. Adam Thielen caught just three passes for 27 yards in his first game back from a hamstring injury.
The Vikings' offense and pass defense will need to be better going forward, considering they're unlikely to record seven takeaways again for a long time. But this week, they just needed a win. They got it, and thanks to a loss from the Rams, they'll head into next week's showdown against the Packers in a great spot to make the playoffs.