Minnesota Vikings

Home-field disadvantage: Vikings say crowd noise hurt final play call in loss to Chargers

Kirk Cousins said he couldn't hear the Vikings' final play call before he threw a game-sealing INT

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Minnesota Vikings fans at U.S. Bank Stadium got loud on Sunday when their team converted a crucial fourth down while trailing 28-24 in the final minute against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Apparently, they got too loud.

With no timeouts, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense attempted to run a first-and-goal play from the Chargers' 6-yard line with 35 seconds left. However, the clock ticked as Cousins tried to listen for head coach Kevin O'Connell's play call through the raucous crowd noise.

The team used up 23 seconds before Cousins wound up calling his own play, which turned into a deflected pass that ended up in the arms of Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. for a game-sealing interception.

"Just couldn't hear [O'Connell] with the noise," Cousins said after the defeat, which dropped the Vikings to 0-3 on the season. "Just ended up calling a play, and the play I called was the same play he was trying to get to."

O'Connell said he didn't believe the crowd noise impacted the execution of the critical play, but he acknowledged that spiking the ball would have been a better option given the communication troubles in the moment.

"My expectations are always sky-high for our group, so I'm trying to steal one more play," O'Connell said. "But clearly with that much time going off the clock, even though I don't think ultimately think time was the issue with the game ending the way it did, but certainly ... that one was purely on me, trying to be too aggressive in that moment. Definitely looking back on it, just wish I would have clocked it. No matter the benefit we had going fast, the value was not received clearly with what that execution looked like in that moment."

The Vikings went 11-0 in one-score games last season en route to a 13-4 regular season record and NFC North title. They have had no such luck in 2023, losing all three of their games by six points or fewer.

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