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A brief look at Vikings/Chargers history

Let’s take a look back

Minnesota Vikings v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers have not seen a lot of each other over the years, playing in separate conferences and only getting together every few years for the most part. The series between the teams has been pretty evenly split, with Minnesota’s most recent victory giving them the overall lead. Let’s take a look back at the history between these two clubs.

As always, the numbers in this piece are taken from the folks at Pro Football Reference.

  • Regular season games between the Vikings and the Chargers: 13
  • All-time series: Vikings, 7-6
  • Vikings’ road record against the Chargers: 2-3
  • Total Vikings’ points scored, head-to-head: 318 (24.5 points/game)
  • Total Chargers’ points scored, head-to-head: 310 (23.8 points/game)
  • Longest Vikings’ winning streak against the Chargers: 2 games (27 September 2015 to 15 December 2019)
  • Longest Chargers’ winning streak against the Vikings: 1 game, six different times
  • Most recent Vikings’ road win in the series: 15 December 2019 (final score 39-10)
  • Most recent Chargers’ home win in the series: 11 September 2011 (final score 24-17)
  • Biggest Vikings’ road win in the series: 29 points, 15 December 2019 (final score 39-10)
  • Biggest Chargers’ home win in the series: 16 points, 5 December 1971 (final score 30-14)
  • Current streak: Vikings, 2 wins

Prior to the last time these two teams met, neither of them had ever managed consecutive wins in the series between them. The two teams alternated wins and losses in their first 12 matchups with each other.

Of course, everyone remembers what happened the last time these two teams met. In December of 2019, the Vikings headed to Los Angeles to face the Chargers at Dignity Sports Health Park, a soccer stadium with about half the capacity of most NFL stadiums. The crowd in attendance. . .which yours truly was a part of. . .was about 80% Vikings fans, and the purple put on an outstanding performance in front of their “home” crowd. The Vikings got first-half touchdowns from Irv Smith Jr. and Ifeadi Odenigbo, the latter coming on a 56-yard fumble return just before halftime. That fumble recovery was one of seven turnovers forced by the Vikings’ defense, as the Chargers lost four fumbles and Philip Rivers threw three interceptions. Mike Boone, subbing in for the injured Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, added two fourth-quarter touchdowns to punctuate the 39-10 rout.

The Vikings’ previous trip to the west coast to play the Chargers was not so great. It happened in 2011, and as was the case with a lot of things that season, it went badly. Sure, it started off great, as Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff and returned it 103 yards for a touchdown, and the Vikings even took a 17-7 lead into the locker room. However, the second half was all Chargers, as they scored 17 straight in the second half and Mike Tolbert. . .yes, Mike Tolbert. . .put up his second and third touchdowns of the afternoon for the Chargers. (He had all three of the Chargers’ touchdowns on the day.) Donovan McNabb finished the day with nearly 300 fewer passing yards than Rivers put up, as he had just 39 (yes, thirty-nine) yards on the afternoon in a 24-17 loss.

The Vikings have only had one other road victory in their history over the Chargers, and it was a thriller. The two teams lit up the scoreboard, going into halftime tied at 14-14 thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Tommy Kramer for Minnesota and a Chuck Muncie touchdown run coupled with a long score from Dan Fouts to Dwight Scales for the Chargers. The fireworks continued after halftime, as the two teams continued to go back and forth and entered the fourth quarter tied at 24. Muncie’s second touchdown of the game gave the Chargers the lead back, and after a 43-yard pass from Kramer to Terry LeCount, the extra point was unsuccessful, leaving the Vikings trailing 31-30. However, the Vikings got the ball last and took advantage by getting Rick Danmeier into position to attempt a 38-yard field goal. The kick was good, and the Vikings escaped from San Diego with a 33-31 victory for Bud Grant over Don Coryell.

If you look, you can find that 1981 game on YouTube. I won’t link to it here because a) I’m not sure about how legal that is and b) it appears to be an old VHS copy and not the greatest quality. But the entire game is out there if you want to watch it.

That’s a brief look at the history between these two teams, with a more specific focus on the games that happened outside of the Twin Cities (which is why the Adrian Peterson 296-yard game isn’t specifically mentioned here). If you want to talk about these games or any of the other games the Chargers and the Vikings have played over the years, have at it in the comments below.