Chip Scoggins
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One coach retreated into a shell. One coach allowed his aggressiveness to turn into chaos.

One team blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter to one of the worst major conference teams in college football. One team refused to accept a gift from the opponent.

Both lost in different but equally excruciating ways.

The F in "football" stood for "failure" by the two most popular Twin Cities football teams.

The Gophers laid an egg Saturday. The Vikings dropped an egg Sunday.

P.J. Fleck and Kevin O'Connell had egg on their faces after combining for a pair of very poor coaching jobs.

The Gophers fell to 2-2 after engineering the impossible — blowing a three-touchdown lead against a Northwestern team that had lost 11 consecutive games against Power Five opponents.

The overtime loss goes alongside the Bowling Green embarrassment of 2021 in the Gophers' Hall of Shame, and remember, this was supposed to be the easy part of their schedule.

The Vikings remained winless at 0-3 after a frantic final sequence against the Los Angeles Chargers resulted in an interception in the end zone. It was a quintessential Vikings ending.

Kirk Cousins said he couldn't hear O'Connell's play call in his helmet speaker because of the crowd noise made by home fans at U.S. Bank Stadium. That created chaos on the field, causing 23 valuable seconds to tick off the clock before Cousins called a play on his own and threw a game-ending pick off a ricocheted pass.

Chargers 28, Vikings 24.

If football optics were a car, the Gophers and Vikings drove a Gremlin. The head coaches deserve a lion's share of the blame.

Coaching decisions become magnified in critical moments. Both Fleck and O'Connell floundered spectacularly with their respective games on the line.

Start with Fleck, whose ultraconservative coaching style backfired again. On the first possession of the game, Fleck punted on fourth-and-3 from the Northwestern 39.

As illogical as that was, it got worse. Leading 31-24 inside 2 ½ minutes, the Gophers faced fourth-and-3 at the Northwestern 37. Fleck punted again.

If Fleck doesn't trust his offense to convert in that situation against that opponent in Year 7 of his regime, that's a major indictment.

Predictably, Northwestern went 80 yards for a touchdown to send the game to overtime.

If you play not to lose, oftentimes you lose. If Fleck doesn't change his approach, this result will continue to happen.

O'Connell's error came in overthinking a situation. Chargers coach Brandon Staley gave the Vikings a gift when he went for a knockout on fourth-and-1 from his own 24 with less than two minutes left.

The Vikings stuffed a run and took possession in prime position to score.

A Cousins completion to T.J. Hockenson on fourth down gave the Vikings a new set of downs at the 6-yard line. O'Connell wanted to hurry his offense to the line to catch the Chargers defense unprepared.

Except Cousins couldn't hear the play call. Tick, tick, tick.

Vikings players stood around looking at Cousins for direction. Tick, tick, tick.

Fans were screaming, "Clock it! Clock it!" The Vikings didn't oblige.

Finally, Cousins got the offense set, but his pass to Hockenson was deflected for an interception.

The whole sequence was a disaster.

"That one was purely on me trying to be too aggressive in that moment," O'Connell said. "Looking back on it, just wish I would have clocked it."

I asked Cousins if he has the authority to take charge of the operation in those moments if he can't hear instructions from O'Connell or if something is going haywire. He mentioned that he did that against Buffalo last season with his failed quarterback sneak at the goal line in the final minute.

"I can do whatever I want, but at the same time you also have to deal with the consequences," Cousins said. "Until you know the future, it's hard to know whether to take the reins or not. But I've done it before. I try not to make a habit of it, certainly."

And that's how the weekend ended.

The stench won't be easy to remove.