The Chargers finally earned their first win of the 2023 season but it wasn’t without the usual suspense and drama that follows.
With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Brandon Staley chose to go for it on a fourth-and-one from their very own 24-yard line. The Vikings had just used their final timeout and Staley felt that all the pressure would be on Minnesota to find the end zone without any time stoppages left. On the play, Herbert handed the ball off to Joshua Kelley who had lined up in the fullback spot for a play called “belly.” Tight end Donald Parham was beat inside by defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard who stopped the play for no gain.
Despite seven tries at a touchdown, the Vikings ultimately failed when a tipped pass from Kirk Cousins landed in the arms of Kenneth Murray.
That saved the day and could ultimately be the saving grace for the Chargers season.
The win pushes them to 1-2 on the year with a home game against the Raiders in Week Four before they head into an early bye week.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at where the Chargers landed after their hard-fought road win.
ESPN - #14
“After gaining 233 yards in the season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Chargers’ rushing offense has turned nonexistent. They have gained 91 yards on 36 carries over the last two games. In Sunday’s win over the Vikings, they averaged two yards per carry against a team allowing the third most rushing yards in the NFL coming into the game. The caveat is that the Chargers have been without starting running back Austin Ekeler, who has missed the last two weeks with an ankle injury. His return could turn this unit around.” - Kris Rhim
NFL.com - #16
“Even in a much-needed win, the Chargers left the door open for criticism with porous pass defense (again) and a questionable decision by Brandon Staley. Going for it on fourth-and-1 near his own end zone while leading by four late in the game was a wild risk, for sure, and though his defense bailed him out, I wonder what the message would have been had it failed. Between that and Mike Williams’ season-ending ACL injury, it feels like the Chargers barely got to enjoy a road victory. All of this really overshadowed a special performance from Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen, doing it late without Williams or Austin Ekeler available. They’ve got the Raiders next week, followed by the bye, which might not come at the worst time.” - Eric Edholm
The Athletic - #16
“Justin Herbert is so talented that Chargers fans and the rest of the NFL want any reason to believe. He gave it to them Sunday: 40-for-47 for 405 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. At 15,028 career yards, the 25-year-old is the second-fastest player to surpass 15,000, behind only Mahomes.” - Josh Kendall
Yahoo Sports - #18
“Mike Williams’ torn ACL is a huge injury, though one the Chargers should be able to navigate. Josh Palmer is underrated and he’ll see a bigger role. It really puts a bright light on rookie first-round pick Quentin Johnston, who has played just 22% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps and has just 26 yards. If Johnston emerges, the Chargers can survive the Williams injury. It’s a big spot for the rookie and how Johnston responds could determine where the Chargers’ season is going.” - Frank Schwab
Pro Football Talk - #20
“The Chargers out Vikings-ed the Vikings.” - Mike Florio
USA Today - #21
“Currently the league’ most accurate (74.4% completion rate) and careful (0 INTs) passer, QB Justin Herbert just notched his 100th career TD pass. Too bad he won’t be throwing any more this year to injured WR Mike Williams.” - Nate Davis
Sporting News - #21
“The Chargers got their pass-happy offense rolling with Justin Herbert to earn a key win in Minnesota. That need to win shootout won’t change because of bad defense, even with no Mike Williams.” - Vinnie Iyer
CBS Sports - #22
“They saved their season by winning at Minnesota, but Brandon Staley did what he could to lose the game. Why did he go for it late?”- Pete Prisco