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After Further Review: Retracing Vikings Interceptions Against Chargers

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

The Vikings defense gave the home crowd a show by taking the football away from the Chargers a total of four times in the first football game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Harrison Smith, Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander recorded interceptions, and Justin Trattou forced a fumble during a sack of Kellen Clemens that was recovered by Stephen Weatherly.

After saluting the **unique methods** deployed to sack Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the previous outing, here's a look at the three interceptions that each had individual identities.

Triple threat

Smith's combination of instincts, range and ability to make plays around the football were neatly packaged into one play – his fourth snap inside the new venue.

The scene: San Diego has the football, down 3-0, at its own 42 and is facing second-and-7 with Philip Rivers in the shotgun.

The assignment: Smith is lined up near the 50-yard line, a little inside the numbers closest to the Chargers sideline. He immediately spots a shallow crossing route by tight end Hunter Henry. Knowing he has help from linebacker Chad Greenway, Smith can add depth to his trek toward the Vikings sideline and checks on the status of the ball as Rivers targets Keenan Allen between the numbers and the Vikings sideline.

Smith closes ground quickly, despite a strong throw, and sees Waynes step-for-step with Allen. Waynes forces a pass breakup, and the deflection caroms to Smith, who didn't over run the play.

In the zone

The scene: San Diego has the football, down 20-10, and is trying to convert third-and-16 from the Minnesota 49 with rookie Mike Bercovici in at quarterback.

The assignment: Kearse is lined up so far beyond the line of scrimmage that he's not in view of the broadcast camera and drops into a deep zone.

Defensive tackle Toby Johnson is able to apply pressure to Bercovici, and the rookie uncorks a wobbler that flutters directly to Kearse as if he's the intended receiver. Kearse returned the interception 38 yards, helping set up a drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.

Quick redemption

Alexander, Kearse's former college teammate at Clemson, nearly had one just as simple later in the fourth quarter. He bobbled that opportunity, but passed the next test with flying colors.

The scene: The Chargers are down 23-10 and have the football at the Vikings 13-yard line.

The assignment: The Vikings are in their nickel defense, and Alexander is covering the slot. He has Deandre Reaves on a first-and-10 play and breaks beautifully to cut off an outside route, with nothing between him and the offering from Bercovici. The ball, however, bounces off his hands three times before landing out of bounds.

Two plays later, on third-and-10, Alexander has Rasheed Bailey on a post route. The ball speeds over the head of Bailey near the goal line, and Alexander goes up and collects it, tipping it twice before securing it and hitting the end zone turf for a touchback.

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