Kirk Cousins threw a pair of touchdown passes to Tyler Conklin, Dalvin Cook rushed for 94 yards and a score, and the Minnesota Vikings bounced back after a trying couple of weeks to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-20 Sunday.
Justin Jefferson had nine receptions for 143 yards to help Minnesota (4-5) snap a two-game losing streak after it squandered late leads to Dallas and Baltimore.
The Vikings came into the game with five players on the COVID-19 list, including starting safety Harrison Smith and center Garrett Bradbury. They also were missing four other defensive starters because of injuries.
As if the health issues were not enough, a former girlfriend of Cook filed a civil suit last week, alleging the running back assaulted her during an altercation at his home last year. Cook’s attorney said his client was assaulted by the woman and had the right to defend himself.
Los Angeles (5-4) has dropped three of its past four.
The Vikings went up 13-3 in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Conklin. Minnesota had a short field to work with following a diving interception by Eric Kendricks at the Chargers 31.
Los Angeles scored on touchdowns by Larry Rountree and Austin Ekeler for a 17-13 lead.
Minnesota then regained the lead with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Conklin was open in the back of the end zone on a crossing route after Chargers safeties Derwin James and Alohi Gilman ran into each other.
Cousins completed 25 of 37 passes for 294 yards.
Cook extended the Vikings’ advantage to 27-17 early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run. Dustin Hopkins’ second field goal got the Chargers within a touchdown, but they didn’t get the ball back.
Cousins connected with Adam Thielen for an 18-yard completion on third-and-18 from the Minnesota 46, and Cook had a 4-yard gain on fourth down to allow the Vikings to run out the clock after the Chargers burned all their timeouts.
Justin Herbert was 20 of 34 for 195 yards with a touchdown and interception. Keenan Allen had eight catches for 98 yards.
IT’S A CELEBRATION
Rountree marked his first NFL touchdown in style.
The Chargers rookie dove from a yard out to get Los Angeles within 13-10 late in the second quarter. Once he crossed the goal line, the sixth-round pick performed a dance that had elements of breakdance and Hall of Famer Ray Lewis’ famous pregame routine.
The touchdown culminated an eight-play, 75-yard possession. The key play of the series was a 35-yard defensive pass interference penalty on Minnesota’s Mackensie Alexander that moved the ball to the Vikings 20.
Ekeler gave the Chargers their only lead when he caught a 2-yard TD pass from Herbert on the opening drive of the second half to make it 17-13. That was also the 20th receiving score of Ekeler’s five-year career, making him the youngest running back in the common draft era (since 1967) to reach that mark. He is 26 years, 181 days old.
That was also the 50th TD pass of Herbert’s career. He is the fourth player to reach that mark within the first 24 games of his career.
Vikings: Host the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.
Chargers: Host the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday night.