The Vikings received the opening kickoff, and after a touchback, they were rolling. Kyle Rudolph featured on the drive picking up two 1st downs including one on a big 21-yard reception over the middle of the field. The Chargers defense looked at one point like they might at least hold them to a field goal, but a pass interference call against Michael Davis gave Minnesota 1st & goal from the 1 and Cousins converted that into 6 hitting Irv Smith in the end zone. A missed extra point kept it a 6-point game.
The Chargers managed to cut the lead in half on their first drive thanks largely to two big 1st down catches by Mike Williams of 19 and 39 yards. After the latter, Williams limped off the field, but he would return on their next possession. Michael Badgley converted his first field goal attempt of the day.
The defense responded by holding the Vikings to only 25 yards on their next drive before they forced a punt.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, Melvin Gordon immediately gave the ball back to the Vikings when he failed to protect the ball on run from inside his own 10.
The defense stood strong, though, and forced a field goal.
Following the Williams touchdown, the Vikings offense took over again from their own 20 and immediately picked 18 yards over the middle of the field with Kirk Cousins hooking up with Bisi Johnson. They botched the ensuing snap, however, to slow them down. Dalvin Cook took a short pass over the middle and picked up 5 more yards to give them a reasonable 3rd down. Joey Bosa pressured Cousins, but he was able to escape and buy time to wait for Adam Thielen to come open which he did. A play later, Michael Davis was flagged for holding to move the sticks again. They immediately picked on him again with Stefon Diggs appearing to pick up another big gain down the left sideline, but his second toe just touched out of bounds. A screen on the next down caught the Bolts off guard and they gave up another 1st. Consecutive running plays went for roughly a yard a piece to force another 3rd down. Cousins looked for Irv Smith in the end zone, but Jaylen Watkins was able to recover to get in the way. Another Vikings field goal gave them the lead back.
Getting the ball back with a little over 4 minutes left in the half, the Chargers got the ball in Ekeler’s hands early letting him pick up a 1st down to get the drive started. He got another carry on the next play and picked up another decent gain, but a holding penalty against Hunter Henry erased it and put them behind the sticks. A swing pass to Ekeler looked like it might end in disaster after he coughed up the ball, but Allen hustled to the ball to knock it out of bounds before it could be recovered by Minnesota. On 2nd & 14, Rivers dumped the ball off to Justin Jackson, but it would have been better had he not hauled in the pass since he was tackled immediately for a loss. On 3rd & 17, Rivers chucked the ball up for grabs and the Vikings came down with it.
Cousins returned to the field needing just short of 50 yards and having 2 minutes to work. However, about a minute into his two-minute drill, he threw a short pass directly into the waiting arms of Melvin Ingram who managed to hold on and even pick up a bit of a return giving the offense great field position and just under a minute on the clock.
They burned a timeout after an odd decision to run on 1st down, but they picked up a 1st and stopped the clock with an Allen reception by the left sideline. A pass intended for Williams was broken up on the next snap. Rivers went to Allen again by the left sideline and he again delivered with a 1st down and a stopped clock. Andre Patton then got on the scoresheet with an 8-yard grab that necessitated calling a second timeout. On 2nd & 2 with 23 seconds remaining, Rivers took the snap from shotgun and was almost immediately enveloped by the defensive line resulting in a sack and fumble that was then picked up and returned for a Minnesota touchdown.
After no doubt getting an earful about not turning the ball over at half time, the Chargers came out and Melvin Gordon immediately failed to protect the football again and gave the ball directly to the Vikings.
The Vikings went to Cook on their first two plays with Cook picking up 7 yards on the first and then getting stopped for a 3-yard loss on the next. More importantly, Cook stayed down after the play and appeared to be in pain. After a false start and a pass play short of the sticks, Minnesota settled for a field goal attempt which they converted to extend their lead to 12.
A pair of Ekeler runs, including an endaround, picked up 3, and on 3rd & 7, Rivers had immediate pressure which forced a throwaway that did not make it back to the line of scrimmage. The intentional grounding penalty backed up the punting unit forcing them to kick from deeper in their own territory. A deflected punt came to rest at the Chargers 41 giving the Vikings excellent field position again.
Without Cook or Alexander Mattison, the Vikings leaned on Mike Boone giving him a carry to start the drive. A 6-yard pass to Diggs made it 3rd & short which Cousins easily converted with a 14-yard designed run. Boone got the call again after that picking up 5 yards on the ground. They went to Boone again but he was stopped after a short gain. An outstanding open field tackle by Derwin James on 3rd down stopped the Vikings short of the line to gain on what initially looked like it would be an easy 1st down. Minnesota again settled for a field goal with this one pushing their lead to 15.
A pass to Ekeler followed by a Jackson run moved the sticks for the Chargers. A pair of receptions by Jackson and Allen moved them again and got the offense across midfield. Jackson got another carry and managed to fall forward for a 6-yard gain. They went back to Jackson again and he came within a yard of the line to gain. Virgil Green got knocked backward into Jackson’s lead blocker on 3rd down and they brought him down for a loss of 1. On 4th & 2, the Chargers faked an jet sweep to Ekeler giving Henry time to get open up the seam for a 1st down at the 11. A 4-yard run by Jackson was followed by a pass to Allen who unfortunately lost his footing. On 3rd down, there was early pressure and after Rivers stepped up he could not find a receiver and just elected to take the sack. On 4th & 9, Trent Scott couldn’t avoid committing a false start and backed the offense up to the 15. Rivers had to throw the ball sooner than he was ready as Scott was beaten quickly.
The Vikings wasted no time taking a shot down field with Kyle Rudolph picking up a big gain up the seam on 1st down. After a short gain to Thielen, Boone took a handoff and easily picked up another 1st. Two more Boone carries later the Vikings appeared to have moved the sticks again, but a holding penalty made it 2nd & 17 instead. Ameer Abdullah then came on to get a carry. They followed that with a shot play to a wide open Diggs who came down with the ball inside the Chargers’ 10 for a 46-yard gain. Boone got another carry and he easily got into the endzone to put the game out of reach.
Rivers went to Henry on 1st down to start the drive and he was unable to haul in the pass. Initially, the referees ruled the drop a catch and fumble recovered by the defense. The play was reviewed and the initial call stood giving Minnesota the ball at the Chargers 10-yard line.
Three Mike Boone carries were good for another touchdown and a 29-point lead.
Down big, the Chargers took over after the kickoff and managed a 1st down before Rivers threw another interception.
Starting at their own 20 with 7:12 on the clock, the Vikings looked to run the ball and run clock. Thanks to holding penalties and the Chargers using the last of their timeouts, the Vikings were only able to burn just under 3 minutes before punting the ball away.
Taking over at their own 5, the Chargers despite having just burned through their timeouts to get the ball back started the drive by running the ball with Gordon. An Allen reception moved the sticks as they went to a hurry up. A checkdown to Gordon picked up a few yards but also burned a fair amount of clock. Another pass to Gordon picked up a 1st down and burned more clock. A pass to Ekeler got them close to another and again kept the clock running. Rivers found Ekeler again before the 2-minute warning to move the sticks again. After the break, Rivers chucked another ball up for grabs and the Vikings came down with it again.
The Vikings were then able to kneel out the clock.