Kevin O’Connell Explains Vikings Final Play vs. LAC

after revenge game
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell reacts during the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings had a shot.

Kevin O’Connell Explains Vikings Final Play vs. LAC

Even after a fluky play like this that too often besets the franchise in crucial moments.

That transaction could’ve sealed the deal for Minnesota had cornerback Akayleb Evans grabbed the pigskin. Of course, he did not, and the Vikings had to mount a possible game-winning drive that ended in nothingness.

That drive ultimately ended like this.

The Vikings battled crowd noise — yes, the home crowd — and generalized confusion on the game’s final play. Because of both elements, mentioned by Will Ragatz above, the pass was picked off, and the Vikings lost, sending the 2023 season into borderline hopelessness.

Explains Vikings Final
Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell takes the field before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

After the game, head coach Kevin O’Connell talked to reporters about the fateful play, “My expectations are always sky-high for our group, so I’m trying to steal one more play. 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.”

The man thought his team was good enough to pull off the dagger and, in the moment, trusted the group to convert sans a clock-stopping spike.

Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) talk after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

To O’Connell’s chagrin, the assumption was false.

“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,” O’Connell added.

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s a textbook example of what could’ve happened in sports (and life). Had Hockenson seized the pass from Cousins with two hands, he likely would’ve crossed the goal line. The ball was placed where only Hockenson’s paws could touch it — initially. Reception, paydirt, ballgame, and your 1-2 Vikings heading to Carolina for a very winnable game with momentum.

Instead, the ball deflected off Hockenson’s grip, careened into a Charger’s hands, and that’s a wrap.

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) walks off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

The problem was that it didn’t work, and now the decision to push the envelope looks silly. O’Connell admitting he should’ve clocked it because we know the other way didn’t work is like the Chicago Bears franchise realizing it should’ve drafted Patrick Mahomes over Mitchell Trubisky. It’s a duh moment.

O’Connell believed his offense had the gumption to put a knife in the Chargers midsection because they had practiced it all summer. The time came to deliver, and Hockenson dropped the ball. O’Connell would be lauded as brilliant if he did not. “Didn’t give the defense time to substitute or set,” would be the narrative. Outstanding chess-not-checkers thinking. Nobody would care about the excessive noise from the home crowd.

It just didn’t work this time. Plain and simple.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by

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