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5 Takeaways: Vikings Emerge Against Chargers Thanks to Aggressiveness

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Vikings came out on the right side of this one, emerging from yet another narrow game with a victory over the Chargers.

Minnesota snapped a two-game skid Sunday and did so by winning the fourth quarter on the West Coast.

The Vikings topped the Chargers by the score of 27-20, which counted as the eighth game in nine tries that was decided by seven or fewer points.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said this week that he liked the fight in his team and believed they could find a way to prevail late if they found themselves in yet another close one.

Minnesota did, and is now 3-5 in games decided by one score this season.

Plenty of players stepped up in this one (more on them below), and it was enough to get Minnesota to a 4-5 record on the season.

Minnesota isn't in a playoff spot at the moment — Carolina holds the No. 7 seed with a 5-5 mark — but Zimmer's team came through to keep pace in the wild playoff push with eight games to go.

The Vikings return home in Week 11 for their first Border Battle of the season. Kickoff against Green Bay is at noon (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Here are four other takeaways from Minnesota's Week 10 win.

1. Zimmer shows aggressiveness

Zimmer got gutsy out on the West Coast.

Zimmer decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Chargers 1-yard line late in the third quarter, and it paid off with a Conklin touchdown.

And with the game on the line, Zimmer went for the win, too.

Leading 27-20 late in the fourth quarter, the Vikings went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Chargers 36-yard line.

Dalvin Cook took the toss and rumbled for a gain of 4 yards to move the chains, igniting a massive roar from the Minnesota sideline.

Minnesota also ran a fake punt for the second straight week, but it didn't count. Rookie Kene Nwangwu took the snap from Andrew DePaola, but the officials ruled the play dead because of a premature snap. FOX's NFL rules expert Dean Blandino said during the broadcast the umpire had not dropped to the necessary depth before the snap.

Zimmer also successfully challenged a play just past the midway point of the fourth quarter. The Chargers had appeared to move the chains on a 7-yard pass on second-and-5, but Zimmer tossed the red flag and won.

It was the first successful challenge of the season for Zimmer, who had lost challenges in Cincinnati and Carolina.

2. Jefferson, Conklin lead passing attack

Kirk Cousins broke out of his recent funk, throwing for 294 yards after failing to reach the 200-yard mark in the past two games.

The Vikings quarterback can thank Justin Jefferson for that, as the second-year wide receiver produced a monstrous game in Southern California.

Jefferson hauled in nine catches for 143 yards to pace the offense, as he was involved early, often and throughout the game. He was also targeted 11 times after getting just nine passes thrown his way in the past two games.

No catch was bigger than his ninth one, which was a leaping, acrobatic catch that picked up 27 yards on third-and-6.

Jefferson recorded his 10th career game with 100-plus receiving yards and fourth this season.

While Jefferson racked up the yards, Tyler Conklin scored the points. The tight end had just three catches on the day, but two were caught in the end zone.

Conklin, who entered the game with four scores in his career, doubled his 2021 touchdown total. He caught touchdown passes of 5 yards and 1 yard against the Chargers.

3. Offense cold early, clutch late

The Vikings and Chargers played a scoreless first quarter Sunday, the first time Minnesota had done that since Week 1.

But that meant the Vikings offense saw their opening-drive scoring streak end, as Minnesota did not get on the scoreboard on its first possession for the first time in eight games.

The Vikings had scored five touchdowns and kicked two field goals on their first drives over the past seven games.

Minnesota also squandered a golden chance on its second offensive possession.

Dede Westbrook's 45-yard punt return gave the Vikings the ball at the Chargers 28-yard line, but Cousins fumbled after his arm was hit by right tackle Brian O'Neill, and Los Angeles recovered.

Minnesota converted on just one of its six third-down tries in the first half and was 1-for-8 at one point, but the unit came through when it mattered most.

The Vikings converted all three chances on third downs on a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter that gave Minnesota a 10-point lead.

View game action photos of the Vikings battling the Chargers during the Week 10 matchup at SoFi Stadium.

4. A sloppy day for both teams

The weather was perfect in Inglewood, but the play on both sides was not at times.

Minnesota was whistled for 10 total penalties for 118 yards on the day, while Los Angeles was called for seven infractions for 52 yards.

Vikings right guard Olisaemeka Udoh was called for a pair of holding penalties, and tight end Luke Stocker was flagged for a personal-foul facemask late in the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was whistled for a defensive pass interference call late in the first half that went for 19 yards. A pass interference penalty against Mackensie Alexander also awarded 24 yards late in the first half.

The teams split the turnover battle with one apiece.