CARSON, Calif. — The Vikings defense was a swarming and opportunistic bunch Sunday in Southern California.
Minnesota's defense forced a season-high seven turnovers in Week 15, with four fumble recoveries and an interception helping spark the Vikings to a convincing 39-10 win against the Chargers.
The seven takeaways are the most in a game under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer (since 2014). Minnesota had forced five turnovers in a Week 17 win against Chicago back in 2016.
Minnesota recorded seven takeaways for the 13th time in franchise history. The Vikings are 8-5 in such games.
The Chargers had 12 total offensive possessions, meaning 58.3 percent ended in turnovers.
Danielle Hunter forced two fumbles and recovered another fumble, and Harrison Smith had an interception and a fumble recovery. Shamar Stephen and Eric Kendricks also forced fumbles, and Ifeadi Odenigbo and Trae Waynes had fumble recoveries.
Odenigbo picked up his fumble and raced 56 yards for his first-career score.
Mike Hughes' first pick of the season was takeaway No. 6, and Anthony Harris capped off the wild day with another interception. Harris now leads the Vikings with five interceptions in 2019.
Here are four other takeaways:
1. Vikings fans invade Hollywood
It was fourth-and-9 as the 4th quarter was about to begin, and the Chargers had the ball at the Vikings 10-yard line.
But Los Angeles — the home team — was called for a false start. The ensuing play was incomplete, and Minnesota promptly marched 85 yards in seven plays for a score that ballooned the Vikings lead to 32-10.
You would have thought it was U.S. Bank Stadium with the way Vikings fans showed up and showed out Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The crowd — by this writer's estimation — was at least 80 percent Purple, as SKOL Chants dominated the day. Even when the Vikings defense was on the field, chants of, 'DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!' were as loud as ever.
Vikings players and coaches said they expected lots of friendly faces in the crowd Sunday, and that was certainly the case.
The supportive crowd also gave the Vikings defense a boost, as Rivers was sacked three times. Hunter, Odenigbo and Jaleel Johnson got to Rivers.
2. Early struggles on 3rd-and-longs
Perhaps the only moments of frustration for the Vikings defense came in the opening half on third-and-longs.
The Chargers opened the game by converting four different times on plays that were third-and-7 or longer:
Third-and-10: 19-yard gain
Third-and-12: 39-yard gain
Third-and-7: 19-yard gain
Third-and-8: 14-yard gain
Los Angeles did face third-and-17 late in the second quarter, but Rivers was intercepted by Smith.
Overall, the Chargers converted six of 11 tries on third downs.
3. Reaching double-digit wins and .500 on the road – By Lindsey Young
It's usually considered respectable in the NFL if a team can take care of business at home and split its road games. The Vikings took care of the latter on Sunday with a West Coast win over the Chargers.
The matchup in Los Angeles marked Minnesota's final regular-season away game; previously, the Vikings had defeated the Giants (Week 5), Lions (Week 7) and Cowboys (Week 10). They were overcome on the road this season by the Packers (Week 2), Bears (Week 4), Chiefs (Week 9) and Seahawks (Week 13).
The victory improved Minnesota to 10-4 as it prepares for its final two regular-season games, back-to-back division games at home against the Packers and Bears, respectively.
4. A (mostly) successful special teams outing – By Lindsey Young
Aside from a missed PAT early in the game, Minnesota's special teams impressed at Los Angeles.
Dan Bailey's extra-point attempt veered in the wind, but he made up for the miss over the rest of the afternoon. He made field goals from distances of 26, 44, 38 and 27 yards to help the Vikings defeat the Chargers. Bailey also was good on PATs following a pair of touchdown runs by Mike Boone and a fumble recovery returned by defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson also came up with a big special teams play in the second half when he blocked a punt by Ty Long. It was the first of Long's punts this season to be blocked.
Vikings punter Britton Colquitt averaged 51.5 yards on two punts and did not record a touchback.