CARSON, CA (News4usonline) – The unlucky number the Los Angeles Chargers picked up during their Sunday matinee contest against the Minnesota Vikings was seven. As in seven turnovers. As one can imagine, seven turnovers don’t equate to anything good for the team that gives out turnovers like handing out Christmas presents.
In the case of the Chargers, it became a nightmarish Sunday afternoon at Health Dignity Sports Park with Philip Rivers throwing three interceptions and committing a fumble. Running back Melvin Gordon put two balls on the turf. Tight end Hunter Henry was also guilty of coughing it up against the Vikings.
You won’t win too many games in the National Football League if your team cough up seven turnovers. Unfortunately for head coach Anthony Lynn, his Chargers did just that against the Vikings and found themselves on the short end of a 39-10 defeat.
“Seven turnovers,” Lynn said after the game to reporters. “We got our ass kicked in all three phases. Any questions?”
The tsunami of turnovers for the Chargers began with a fumble by Gordon in the first quarter. Gordon’s second fumble on the Chargers’ first series in the third quarter earned the running back a trip to the sidelines for the rest of the game. Gordon finished the game with just 28 yards rushing on seven carries.
“I gave him a break,” Lynn said. “Yes, I was bothered by the fumbles, yes.”
The one turnover that possibly changed the complexity of the game came at the end of the second quarter as Rivers was set up in the pocket to throw the football as the Chargers were maneuvering to get into better field goal range that would have given them a one-point lead going into halftime.
At that point in the game, the Chargers trailed just 12-10. That scenario didn’t work out too well for Rivers and the Chargers. Rivers was stripped-sacked and Minnesota defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo scooped up the aftermath and rumbled and stumbled his way 56 yards for a touchdown the other way, helping to give the Vikings a 19-10 lead.
“It was a tough loss,” said Rivers, who completed 28 of his 39 passes for 307 yards, one touchdown, and those three picks. “We made too many mistakes and we do that against what’s now a 10-win team, usually doesn’t go over well. We put our defense in a tough spot, but they hung in there. Eventually mistakes just kind of snowballed out of control and they pulled away from us.”
The Chargers never recovered from that momentum swing at the end of the second quarter. The Vikings, playing with urgency, took advantage of the Chargers’ miscues.
“We just wanted to come in here and take care of business,” Minnesota wide receiver Stefon Diggs said. “You always want to go in with the mindset that you are going to win and have the confidence that you are going to have success when you are out there. So, for us, just preparing throughout the week. We know everything is not going to be perfect, but we are still trying to do everything we can.”
The Chargers and the Vikings came into their Week 15 matchup with two different agendas. One team still has postseason ambitions. The other team wanted to post their upset alert with nothing else to play for.
Already knocked out of the playoff picture, the Chargers (5-9) wanted to stay on track and finish the season strong with hopes of at least completing, at best, a .500 football campaign. That’s not going to happen now.
After advancing to the AFC Conference semifinals last season, the Chargers were looking for bigger and better things this season. Injuries to key starters, contract holdouts, and some uneven play forced those expectations to not materialize.
So with the intentions of playing spoiler alert, the Chargers, with the fourth-best pass defense in the NFL, and the No. 4 team defense in the league, Los Angeles was coming into this game free and loose. The loss to Minnesota may have put a damper on things, but Chargers running back Austin Ekeler continues to stay optimistic.
“We’re playing for each other,” Ekeler said. “We’re playing for our individual selves financially moving forward and we’re playing for our fans. That’s all that we’re playing for right now. So, the playoff picture is out of it. That’s just one thing that’s out of it that we can’t do and we can’t control that. So, we’ve got to move forward.”
Minnesota, on the other hand, with games with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears remaining, have an NFC North Division to play for. In the case that the Vikings are beaten out of the division title by the Packers, Minnesota is thick in the mix for a wildcard playoff spot.
With the league’s No. 4 rusher in Dalvin Cook and an efficient signal-caller in quarterback Kirk Cousins (statistically the NFL’s ninth-best passer), the Vikings (10-4) came into their Sunday contest against the Chargers having dropped just four games this season.
With the NFC North Division title still out there for the Vikings or Packers to grab, Minnesota played like a team in the hunt for a division crown and a playoff berth on the line.
“It’s still all up for grabs,” said Cousins, who completed 19 of the 25 passes he attempted for 207 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. “We’ve got to finish strong. It’s a two-game season now, and with the way we’ve played the first four teams, we’ve put our self in a position to have a lot to play for these last two games. Ten wins is a good place to be, but there’s a better place to be and that’d be 11 or 12., That’s what we’re chasing. The NFC is pretty talented at the top, and so it’s going to take a great effort these last two weeks to be able to get seeded and get in.”