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Awesome win against the Chargers. I still have some concerns about our coverage defense, though. What happened to our corners being shutdown corners?
Cheers from Montana
— Alex G
Alex isn't the only one asking about coverage defense this week. The Chargers converted a third-and-10 and a third-and-12 on their opening drive on the way to a field goal. Los Angeles then had three consecutive pass gains of 11, 14 and 27 yards on the way to a touchdown and 10-9 lead with 8:42 left in the second quarter.
After that, however, the Vikings were able to limit the damage of an eight-time Pro Bowl QB with a variety of weapons. In the second half, Philip Rivers had a passer rating of 48.7. He finished with a 71.2 one week after posting a career-best 154.4 in a thumping of Jacksonville. So while the long third-down conversions were frustrating early, keeping points off the board is still paramount. The Chargers 10 points tied their low for the season.
Minnesota can't count on forcing seven turnovers and getting a 56-yard scoop and score by Ifeadi Odenigbo every week, but the coverage performance and pass rush improved over the course of the game.
Another item of note is the snap counts for the corners:
Mackensie Alexander, 48
Mike Hughes, 46
Holton Hill, 31
Trae Waynes, 27
Xavier Rhodes, 14
Kris Boyd, 7
I can't be the only one who saw all that purple in the stands and felt like U.S. Bank Stadium had been annexed out west for this one. Wow. And in the second quarter when LAC had the ball and you could hear loud chants of DE – FENSE, I got chills. Kudos to West Coast AND traveling Viking fans!
Zero sacks on Kirk? With that DL? I admit I saw Cousins short stroke more than a few throws, but with the exception of the INT and throw-aways, his accuracy was as good as it's been for at least 2/3 of the season. Credit all phases of pass protection. The OL, the TEs and chipping/blitz absorbing RBs and in a very key and often overlooked role in pass protection, the QB who got rid of the ball in time to avoid the sacks. There were clearly some close calls and as I said, KC's motion was abbreviated several times but mostly balls were placed where Viking pass catchers had a shot and LAC defenders didn't. A true team effort in sack prevention.
— Jeff in Sacramento
You are not alone in noticing the "Sea of SKOL," Jeff. We wrote about that in this week's Action Reaction and how the Vikings didn't have to face the typical obstacles of a road game.
Really great points about the offense not allowing a sack and all of the factors that can go into avoiding the negative plays. The Vikings knew the importance of limiting the damage by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III, and they managed to do so through a collective effort.
The clean execution on the opening drive was quite a way to start the game. Cousins seemed to be lightning-quick with his decisions and delivery to find the opportunities within the Chargers zones. Seven different receiving options/runners touched the ball on the opening drive.
[Dalvin] Cook hasn't been himself for a few weeks...how much could it have hurt us to use [Mike] Boone as a featured back for the whole game spelling him with [Ameer] Abdullah...and of course we miss #19, but this game isn't as big as the next one...still he was out there not at one hundred percent...one more week of healing and coming back strong is better than being banged up when we really need these guys.
— Nicholas Balkou
Dalvin has shown some incredible toughness in the back half of the season. He left with an injury in the third quarter that Head Coach Mike Zimmer said was unrelated to the chest injury that he previously was dealing with, so yesterday seems like an unfortunate and unrelated incident.
Mike Boone came in for the Vikings and did a great job for a team that didn't have Alexander Mattison and lost Cook midway through the game. He's been a preseason star for Minnesota and made the most of his first big opportunity in a regular-season game. Ameer Abdullah added 25 yards on five carries.
Fans on Twitter also liked what they saw from Boone:
As for Adam Thielen, the Vikings want their very best on the field whenever possible, but they are not going to play players who shouldn't play. Thielen was ready to play. The fortunate thing is that the Vikings didn't have to overuse Thielen, who logged his first significant game action since Week 7. Thielen had three catches for 27 yards with a long of 13.