The Vikings nearly pulled off a stunning Week 3 victory for their first win of the 2023 season, but their fans got a little too excited in the process -- literally. Set up at the Chargers' 6-yard line with 35 seconds left in Sunday's game, Minnesota managed just a single unsuccessful play on its final drive, attributing a lengthy pre-snap delay to the deafening crowd noise.
Addressing reporters after the 28-24 loss, quarterback Kirk Cousins said he "just couldn't hear" coach Kevin O'Connell's play call immediately after a fourth-down conversion that put the Vikings in scoring range. The team was out of timeouts by that point, but rather than spike the ball to preserve time, Cousins rushed the offense up to the line and prepared to run a first-and-goal call. By the time he actually snapped it, 23 seconds had run off the clock, and he'd opted to run his own play, per ESPN.
Cousins' impromptu call ended up being the same call O'Connell had been trying to signal, but the execution was so hurried after the prolonged setup that Cousins' final pass toward tight end T.J. Hockenson was tipped and intercepted, sealing Los Angeles' win. The Vikings' head coach echoed Cousins, citing the noise at U.S. Bank Stadium as a factor in the botched finish.
"Sometimes that happens," O'Connell said. "It's not always noticed when we're in a normal two-minute mode."
In the end, O'Connell added, the most regrettable aspect of Sunday's conclusion was the decision not to spike the ball and save time for multiple attempts at the end zone, down four points.
"My expectations are always sky-high for our group, so I'm trying to steal one more play," he said. "But clearly with that much time going off the clock, even though I don't think ultimately time was the issue with the game ending the way it did ... that one was purely on me, trying to be too aggressive in that moment. Definitely looking back on it, I just wish I would have clocked it. No matter the benefit we had going fast, the value was not received ... with what that execution looked like in that moment."
The Vikings' 0-3 start is their worst in 10 years. They will look to get their first win in Week 4 when they visit the Panthers.