CARSON, Calif. — Vikings fans invaded Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday, Dc. 15, and it was mostly a festive atmosphere. However, an injury to Dalvin Cook toned down the mood.
The star running back was knocked out the game with a shoulder injury early in the third quarter of Minnesota’s 39-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. It was the second time in three weeks he left the game in third quarter with what was termed a shoulder injury.
The sellout crowd of 25,446 appeared to be about three-fourths Vikings fans. They did the Skol chant regularly and cheered as their team forced seven turnovers.
The Chargers’ fourth turnover, a Melvin Gordon fumble on the first play of the second half, was recovered by Danielle Hunter at the Chargers 26. Two plays later, Cook was injured when he dropped for a 3-yard loss by linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Cook looked to be in a good bit of pain when he was on the ground and helped off the field. However, he ended up watching the second half standing on the sideline.
Another play involving Hunter led to the Vikings turning the game around in the final minute of the first half. With 23 seconds left and the Chargers facing second-and-2 at the Minnesota 26, quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked by Hunter and fumbled. Defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo scooped up the ball and ran 56 yards for a touchdown for a 19-10 Vikings lead with seven seconds remaining.
The Vikings were never seriously challenged in the second half. They got two more field goals by Dan Bailey, who finished with four. And Mike Boone had two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.
With backup running back Alexander Mattison out with an ankle injury, Boone took over for Cook. He finished with 49 yards on 12 carries.
The Vikings (10-4) lowered their magic number to clinching a playoff spot to one over the Los Angeles Rams (8-6), who lost at Dallas. However, their chances to win the NFC North are not good because Green Bay (11-3), which defeated Chicago 21-13 Sunday, would hold a tiebreaker if one is needed.
The Vikings only can win the division if they beat the Packers on Dec. 23 at U.S. Bank Stadium, defeat the Bears in their home finale and then have Green Bay lose its finale at Detroit.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 19 of 27 passes for 207 yards. His 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr. on the first possession put Minnesota up 6-0. Bailey missed the extra point.
The Chargers (5-9) took a brief 10-9 lead midway through the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Mike Williams. However, that soon was wiped out by a Bailey field goal and Odenigbo’s touchdown.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen returned after missing four straight games and five of the past six with a hamstring injury. Thielen caught three passes for 27 yards.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs entered the game needing three yards to reach 1,000 for the second straight year, and he took care of that early. Diggs finished with four catches for 76 yards, and now has 1,073.
Diggs became the seventh Minnesota receiver to reach 1,000 yards multiple times in a career. He joined Cris Carter (eight times), Randy Moss (six), Jake Reed (four), Anthony Carter (three), Ahmad Rashad (two) and Thielen (two).
The Vikings now have a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver for the first time since Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice got there in 2009. Cook on Sunday had nine carries for 27 yards, and now has 1,135 for the season.
Rivers completed 28 of 39 passes for 307 yards with three interceptions. He was picked off by safety Harrison Smith in the second quarter and cornerback Mike Hughes and safety Anthony Harris in the fourth.