1. Staley stands by fourth-down call.
Brandon Staley defended his decision to go for it on fourth and 1 in his own territory late in the fourth quarter with an explanation more suited for punting the ball. "They had no timeouts," he said of the Vikings. Exactly. So make them go 60-plus yards with 1:47 left rather than risk handing them the ball at the Chargers' 24, which is what happened. "I felt like our defense could play the way it did," Staley said. OK, then give it more room to work with. "I make no apologies," Staley said. He didn't have to because a pass ricocheted off two sets of hands and was intercepted in the end zone for a 28-24 win. "If I was [worried about criticism], we would have punted," he said.
2. Fans can't blame this one on officiating.
Chargers safety Alohi Gilman was right when he said the officials gave the Vikings a gift when they ruled Alexander Mattison's forward progress had been stopped before the ball came out inside the Chargers' 5-yard line late in the first half. "As I hit Mattison, I'm stripping the ball out," Gilman said. "I disagree. It was a forced fumble." Instead of Chargers ball, the Vikings kicked a field goal. Gilman ripped a ball from T.J. Hockenson earlier. "I just took his money," Gilman said of the Vikings' eighth of nine turnovers this season. "It's no surprise that me or someone else took the ball from him."
3. A tale of two red zones.
The Vikings ran six plays inside the Chargers' 5-yard line. They lost yardage twice, threw two incompletions and an interception, and scored one touchdown. The Chargers, meanwhile, ran four plays inside the Vikings' 5. Two of them were first-half touchdown passes from Justin Herbert to tight end Donald Parham Jr. The second one might have been the hardest-thrown 1-yard touchdown pass in NFL history. "He zipped it in there for sure," Parham said. "I was not expecting that much heat." Said Herbert: "There's more [heat] in the tank, for sure. It was tight coverage, but the great thing about Par is he's so tall and has those long arms that always hold on to the pass."
4. Time for a Jefferson Ratio?
Mike Tice came up with the Randy Ratio to remind himself to get Randy Moss involved early. Perhaps Kevin O'Connell needs something similar with Justin Jefferson, who wasn't targeted in the first 20 minutes of the game. He was targeted three times in the first half. When the Chargers led 21-10 late in the third quarter, Jefferson had four touches. Chargers receiver Keenan Allen had 12 on 14 targets. Mattison had 13 carries at that point. "Versus a lot of their plan of playing shell [coverage] on Justin, we got some clean looks to run the football and took advantage," O'Connell said. The Chargers were more than willing to let Mattison try and beat them.
5. Vikings didn't accept gifts.
The Chargers tried to give the Vikings their first win of the season. They had 12 penalties for 94 yards. They had five defensive penalties on third-down stops that gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs. Cornerback Michael Davis had two of them. Staley took offense to safety Derwin James' penalty for unnecessary roughness on a violent third-down red-zone stop of Mattison. The Vikings got a field goal out of it. "Derwin was frustrated because he led with his shoulder," Staley said. "And he is frustrated because he's making the right football play. He's one of our outstanding competitors. A guy that does it right, sportsmanship — the whole thing."