Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Answers for Costly Decision in Loss to Chargers

Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell disputes a call during his team's Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Converting on fourth down with the clock ticking away its final 30 seconds, the Minnesota Vikings opted to let it run and took a shot from the 6-yard line with 12 ticks remaining — leaving just enough time for one more play.

That play never came.

Kirk Cousins threw a ball that tipped off T.J. Hockenson‘s hands and eventually fell into the arms of Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray.

Game over; 0-3.

The Vikings once again allowed turnovers to define the day, falling 28-24 to Los Angeles on Sunday to become one of only two winless teams left in the league after the first slate of games on Sunday.

Kevin O’Connell addressed the decision to run down the clock in a postgame media conference as his game management. O’Connell claims the chaos of the moment took over. The crowd noise, coupled with the headset cutting in and out, muffled the play call to Cousins and took longer to set up than expected.

Cousins carried on with setting up the play, which O’Connell regrets.

“Looking back, I wish I would’ve clocked it and not tried to steal one there,” O’Connell said in a postgame press conference. “He (Cousins) was having trouble hearing me at first. By the time he pieced it together, enough clock had gone off. We should have just clocked it at that point.”

Kevin O’Connell Stands Firm on His Play Call

Kevin O'Connell

GettyKevin O’Connell

While O’Connell regretted not adapting to the chaos that unfolded on Sunday, he would have run the same play had they stopped the clock.

“We have elements of our offense no matter where we are on the field to try and go fast and capitalize on situations and it didn’t go that way,” O’Connell said. “If we would have clocked it on first down that attempt is still made.”

While the offense was productive, racking up 475  yards, Minnesota came away with zero points on its two final drives, both of which ended inside 10 yards of the end zone.

I think what we are going to continue to do is to continue to find a way to do a bit more. Find a way to complete four quarters,” O’Connell said. “I believe in this team I believe in our leadership. I believe in our coaches. We are going to continue to work that is not a concern of mine with the guys we have in there. We can be disappointed we can be upset with the outcome. We were right there with our fans and feel it. Our backs are against the wall now we’ve got to find a way to get our first win this week.”

Kirk Cousins Addresses Game-Ending Interception

Kirk Cousins

GettyKirk Cousins looks on after the Vikings dropped a 28-24 loss to the Chargers in Week 3 of the 2023 season.

For the first time since the 2020 season, Cousins stood at the press podium as part of an 0-3 team to begin the year.

He echoed a similar story of not getting the call clear from O’Connell but still saw his final throw as an opportunity to either score or, worst-case scenario, stop the clock with an incompletion.

“Put it to a safe spot,” Cousins said, describing his thought process in putting the ball where only Hockenson could have a chance for it. “The quicker I can get this thing out, give ourselves another chance if it is, in fact, incomplete.”

The unfortunate tip off of Hockenson’s hands was another turnover for a team whose misfortunes are becoming more of a trend than an anomaly.

Cousins and the Vikings hope to get it right next week on the road against the Carolina Panthers.

“It’s a long football season,” Cousins said. “We got a lot of opportunities up ahead.”

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