By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – The Chargers gave up the lead late in the third quarter and could never recover in the fourth in a 27-20 loss to Minnesota Sunday before 70, 240 fans at SoFi Stadium.
After a scoreless first quarter Greg Joseph kicked a 46-yard field goal for a 3-0 Minnesota lead with 14:12 left in the second quarter.
The Chargers, who punted twice in the first quarter, took over on their own 25. LA drove down to the Vikings 31 but stalled there. Dustin Hopkins kicked a 46-yard field goal to tie it at 3 with 11:28 left in the second quarter.
The Chargers defense held the Vikings after they had a first and goal at the four yard line. But Joseph booted a 30-yard field goal to put Minnesota up 6-3 with 6:38 left in the second quarter.
Eric Kendricks intercepted Justin Herbert on the following possession and returned it to the LA 31. Six plays later Kirk Cousins hit Tyler Conklin in the endzone for a 5-yard touchdown to put the Vikings up 13-3 with 3:26 left in the first half.
The Chargers put together an 8-play, 75 yard drive with Larry Roundtree capping it with a one-yard touchdown. After the score Roundtree busted out some celebration moves in the endzone. Chargers cut the lead to 13-10 with 1:30 left in the first half.
The Vikings took the three point lead into the break. The Chargers drove 75 yards on 10 plays on the first possession of the third quarter. Herbert hit Austin Ekeler on a two-yard touchdown pass to put the Chargers up 17-13 early in the third.
The Vikings answered with a 9-play, 66 yard march. Cousins hit Conklin for a one-yard score to put Minnesota back on top 20-17 with 2:33 left in the third quarter. Minnesota never relinquished the advantage.
Early in the fourth the Vikings burned seven minutes off the clock putting together a 12 play, 68-yard drive. Dalvin Cook ran the final yard for a 27-17 lead with 9:29 left. The Chargers couldn’t overcome the deficit.
They did manage a 24-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins to cut it to 27-20 with 4:36 left. But the Vikings took the kick off and never gave the ball back eating up the final minutes.
Cousins had an efficient game for Minnesota completing 25 of 37 for 294 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. Cook rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown to lead the ground attack.
Herbert was 20 of 34 for the Chargers with a touchdown but also threw a pick. LA had only 82 yards on the ground.
The Chargers, now 5-4, will face the Pittsburgh Steelers next week at home. The Vikings improved to 4-5 with the victory.