The Los Angeles Chargers committed seven turnovers the Minnesota Vikings converted into 20 points in a 39-10 loss Sunday, their most one-sided in Anthony Lynn’s three seasons as coach.
“We’ve gotten beat, but we’ve never gotten beat like that and that was my problem today,” Lynn said after the Chargers’ most one-sided loss since a 33-3 loss at Kansas City Nov. 22, 2015, when Mike McCoy was the coach.
“That’s my frustration right now. I haven’t seen that team in the three years since I’ve been here.”
All the Chargers’ previous losses this season had been by seven points or less.
The Chargers (5-9) allowed the final 30 points after Philip Rivers’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams gave them a 10-9 lead eight minutes, 42 seconds before halftime.
Rivers had three passes intercepted and lost a fumble when he was sacked by Danielle Hunter. Running back Austin Ekeler attempted to recover for the Chargers, but was pulled away by Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks, a former UCLA standout.
Ifeadi Odenigbo recovered the loose ball and ran 56 yards down the sideline for a touchdown with eight seconds left in the half to give the Vikings a 19-10 lead.
“I think Ifeadi’s touchdown at the end of the half was the play of the game,” Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins said.
To Rivers, “the number seven is a false way to tell the story” because the final two turnovers — a fumble by tight end Hunter Henry and his third interception — came in the fourth quarter when the outcome had already been decided.
The Chargers were still in the game — trailing 25-10 — when they drove to the Vikings’ 7-yard line with 35 seconds left in the third quarter but turned the ball over on downs after a second-down incomplete pass by Rivers, a sack, a false start penalty against offensive tackle Trenton Scott and another incomplete pass by Rivers on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Minnesota responded with a seven-play, 85-yard drive which culminated with Mike Boone’s 8-yard touchdown run.
Boone ran 2 yards for a touchdown on the Vikings’ next possession, three plays after Henry’s fumble was recovered by cornerback Trae Waynes at the Chargers’ 30-yard line and returned 20 yards.
The Chargers entered Sunday’s play having lost seven fumbles, but lost four against the Vikings, including two by Melvin Gordon.
“He practiced good all week, he was just more careless with the ball today for whatever reason,” Lynn said.
Rivers completed 28 of 39 passes for 307 yards and was sacked three times before a crowd announced at 25,446 for the Chargers first game at Dignity Health Sports Park since Nov. 8.
The Chargers outgained Minnesota, 345 yards to 344, but trailed 18-17 in first downs and 32:19-27:41 in time of possession.
Michael Badgley kicked a 41-yard field goal on the Chargers’ first possession.
Cousins completed 19 of 25 passes for 207 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown to Irv Smith on the game’s opening possession. Dan Bailey missed the conversion but made four field goals the Vikings (10-4) won for the eighth time in 10 games.
The victory combined with the Los Angeles Rams 44-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys gave Minnesota a two-game lead over the Rams in the race for the NFC’s second and final wild-card playoff berth. Both teams have two games remaining.
The loss was the Chargers’ fourth in their past five games and assured them of their first losing record since 2016, their final season in San Diego when they were 5-11, losing their final five games.
“It is tough, especially with the expectations we had in the beginning of the year,” Rivers said. “A play here or a play there in two or three of those games and we could be sitting 8-6 right now, still in the mix, or 7-7 and still in the mix. That is what makes it even tougher.”
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