10 Reactions to Chargers-Vikings
Usually, this reactions piece comes out mere hours after the game. However, if I’m being brutally honest with all you readers, there simply wasn’t much motivation to get it out right after the game, and I didn’t want to subject anyone to a half-baked piece of reading material.
Yesterday’s loss was unfortunate, and the situation that it puts the Vikings in, sitting with an 0-3 record in the cellar of the league, might be the dagger to the season. The result stings, and the process of the first two weeks of the season leading up to the Week 3 loss makes it that much harder of a pill to swallow.
Regardless, after getting a chance to sleep on a few things, here are 10 reactions to Minnesota’s 28-24 loss versus the LA Chargers.
1. More Turnovers
It’s pretty simple. If you turn the ball over more than you opponent, you probably aren’t going to win too many games. The Vikings are now 0-for-3 in that department and have lost three games to start the season as a result.
On Minnesota’s opening possession, T.J. Hockenson fumbled the ball away in the red zone. A potential scoring drive fell away to dust, a far too common theme for the 2023 Vikings. Minnesota did force a Chargers fumble later on, but Kirk Cousins’ interception on the goal-line to end the game meant the Vikings had turned the ball over 9 times in their first three games. Since 2005, this has happened 12 times, and only the 2010 Giants have finished the season with a winning record.
2. JJ Comes a Yard Shy of History
Sometimes, the football gods have a cruel sense of humor. Not only did the Vikings come within inches of winning this game a few separate times, but Justin Jefferson finished the game one yard away from making history.
The star receiver recorded 150 and 159 receiving yards in each of the first two games of the season, and with one more 150-yard performance on Sunday, he would have become the first receiver in NFL history to reach that benchmark in each of the first three games of a single season. Jefferson finished with 149 yards.
3. Dalton Risner No-Shows
It may not have been realistic for Dalton Risner to get out on the field this weekend after signing with the Vikings on Monday, but this felt like a game where Minnesota needed to push all of their chips into the middle of the table.
Instead, Minnesota left the Risner chip on the sideline, and they opted to give Ed Ingram another shot. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered in the end, but it’s tough not to question that decision looking back on how the game went down.
4. Keenan Allen Is a Monster
Keenan Allen might be the most underrated receiver in the NFL. He gets a lot of guff for having missed time with injuries over the years, but he was an absolute menace against the Vikings defense and is every week he is on the field. 18 catches and 215 yards (along with a 49-yard TD pass) went Allen’s way on Sunday, and the Chargers needed every single one of them.
5. The Jefferson Cramp
With the Vikings season teetering on disaster, U.S. Bank Stadium collectively held their breath as Justin Jefferson went down holding his leg. As trainers tended to him, fans seemingly attempted to will him back to health with a chant of “JJ, JJ, JJ!”.
Considering how things had gone for Minnesota to start the year, the cherry on top would have been the best receiver in the NFL missing his first games with an injury. Instead, it turned out to be a cramp, and Jefferson was back in the game shortly thereafter. The injury worries proved to be an overreaction, but this cramp served as a good reminder to appreciate the greatness we are witnessing while #18 is still around.
6. Akayleb Evans’ INT That Wasn’t
The play that proved fate simply wasn’t on Minnesota’s side this weekend. After converting a 3rd-and-17 just one play prior, Justin Herbert lofted up a pass to Joshua Palmer that was beautifully covered by Akayleb Evans. He did everything right. He turned around at the perfect time, got both of his hands on the ball, and tipped it right into Palmer’s waiting arms as he walked into the end zone.
Had Evans completed this play, the Chargers wouldn’t have taken the lead, and the Vikings may be in a very different spot on this Monday morning. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
7. The Vikings Need Marcus Davenport
If the Vikings are still going to turn around their 2023 season, they need one of their top free agent acquisitions to get onto the field. Outside of Danielle Hunter and Ivan Pace, the Vikings pass-rush is completely non-existent right now.
8. Brandon Staley’s 4th Down Decision
With the Chargers facing a 4th-and-1 on their own 24 late in the fourth quarter, Brandon Staley had a decision to make. He could either punt and pin the Vikings deep in their own territory, or go for it and attempt to end the game.
Ultimately, the Chargers went for it, but Joshua Kelley’s run was stopped short, giving the Vikings one last gasp of life. Many criticized the decision in the aftermath. I find the overall decision to go for it on the road as a good one, but the play call itself was a strange one. Keenan Allen should’ve been the player to get the ball in that spot.
9. Red Zone Execution Is Brutal for the Vikings
When the rubber hits the road, the Vikings simply haven’t executed in key situations. They saw four drives enter the red zone on Sunday, and only once did they get points out of those drives. This season, they have scored four TDs on eight trips inside their opponent’s 20. Furthermore, Minnesota converted on just four of their 14 third downs.
10. The Reality of the 2023 Vikings
Here’s the reality of the 2023 Vikings: they simply aren’t very good. Even without Austin Ekeler on the field, the Chargers were able to get just about whatever they wanted on Sunday. Taking a look at a schedule that includes the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Bijan Robinson’s Falcons, Alvin Kamara’s Saints, and a Packers game at Lambeau, there don’t appear to be many wins on the horizon if they continue playing the way that they have through the first three weeks.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.