The Vikings have had a lot of strange endings to their games in the 2021 season.
But there was no drama for Minnesota on Sunday, as the club defeated the Chargers 27-20 on the road at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers made it a seven-point game on Dustin Hopkins‘ 24-yard field goal with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter. But the Vikings then used a successful four-minute drive to bleed out the clock.
Receiver Justin Jefferson made a terrific catch on the right sideline to haul in a 27-yard pass on third-and-6, keeping the possession going. Quarterback Kirk Cousins completed an 18-yard pass to Adam Thielen on third-and-20, setting up a key fourth-and-2 on the Chargers’ 36.
Los Angeles had no more timeouts, so Minnesota faced a choice. The club could’ve kicked a 54-yard field goal to go up by two possessions, tried to pin the Chargers deep with a punt, or go for it to potentially end the game.
Channeling his inner Brandon Staley, Mike Zimmer elected the latter. Running back Dalvin Cook took a pitch to the right for 4 yards, and effectively put the game on ice.
Cook finished the game with 94 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown, also catching three passes for 24 yards. Jefferson also had nine receptions for 143 yards, marking his highest output of the season. Cousins was 25-of-37 passing for 294 yards with a pair of TDs, both of which were thrown to tight end Tyler Conklin.
Minnesota’s defense kept Los Angeles’ offense at bay throughout the contest, allowing only 253 yards. Quarterback Justin Herbert was 20-of-34 passing for 195 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Austin Ekeler had just 44 yards on 11 carries, plus three catches for 15 yards with a TD. Keenan Allen made eight receptions for 98 yards.
With the win, the Vikings improved to 4-5, keeping themselves in the mix for an NFC wild card spot. Minnesota plays Green Bay at home next week.
The Chargers’ loss put them at 5-4, making the matchup between the Raiders and Chiefs on Sunday Night Football for first place. L.A. will host Pittsburgh in Week 11 for SNF.