Key player: Chargers receiver Keenan Allen
If it seemed like you were constantly hearing Keenan Allen's name, you were. He was targeted 20 times, and caught 18 of them for 215 yards. For good measure, he also threw a 49-yard TD pass to Mike Williams on a trick play in the third quarter. On the Chargers' go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, Allen had a key 20-yard reception on third-and-17 after putting his team in a hole with an offensive pass interference penalty. On the following play, a pass from Justin Herbert bounced off the hands of Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans and into the arms of Joshua Palmer for a 30-yard touchdown.
Key play: The Vikings' fourth quarter in the red zone
It's hard to pick just one of the fourth-quarter plays that sunk the Vikings as they tried to rally from a 21-10 deficit in the second half. The Vikings briefly had a 24-21 lead early in the fourth, but after they fell behind 28-24 with about eight minutes left, they were twice deep in Chargers territory only to fail to score.
With first and goal from the 3 with 4:23 left, the Vikings gained 2 yards on an Alexander Mattison run, then lost 1 on the next. Cousins was incomplete to Jefferson on third-and-2 and fourth-and-2; on the latter play, Jefferson was called for an illegal shift penalty that would have negated any success.
After stopping the Chargers on fourth-and-1 on their own 24 with 1:47 left, the Vikings needed seven plays to get to the 6 and took a delay of game penalty when Jefferson and Hockenson needed to visits from the trainer and the team didn't have any timeouts. The drive ended with an interception in the end zone in the final seconds. Two Cousins passes bounced on the hands of Vikings receivers in the end zone on that drive.
Overall in the game, the Vikings were 1-of-4 in red zone efficiency, scoring just 10 points.
Key number: 32
The Chargers were credited with four sacks, seven tackles for a loss and 13 quarterback hits Sunday. The 13 QB hits bring the total against Cousins and the Vikings this season to a whopping 32 in three games.
Up next: at Carolina, Oct. 1, noon (Fox)
The Vikings probably didn't figure to be entering their reunion with Adam Thielen in this particular state. The 0-3 Panthers appear to be a ripe target for what ails the Vikings. No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young missed Carolina's Week 3 37-27 loss to Seattle with an ankle injury, which was expected to sideline him for "one to two weeks." Andy Dalton started for Young and passed for 365 yards, 145 to Thielen, who is the Panthers' leading receiver with 20 catches for 211 yards.
2023 schedule and results
Sept. 10: L, 20-17 vs. Tampa Bay
Sept. 14: L, 34-28 at Philadelphia
Sept. 24: L, 28-24 vs. L.A. Chargers
Oct. 1: at Carolina
Oct. 8: vs. Kansas City
Oct. 15: at Chicago
Oct. 23: vs. San Francisco
Oct. 29: at Green Bay
Nov. 5: at Atlanta
Nov. 12: vs. New Orleans
Nov. 19 at Denver
Nov. 27 vs. Chicago
Dec. 10: at Las Vegas
TBA: at Cincinnati
Dec. 24: vs. Detroit
Dec. 31: vs. Green Bay
TBA: at Detroit