MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings dropped to 1-4 on the season after a 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, and also might have lost their star receiver.
Justin Jefferson left the game midway through the fourth quarter, just before Kirk Cousins hit Alexander Mattison on a 9-yard touchdown to get the Vikings within one score. He went to the medical tent with a hamstring injury, came out to the sideline and spent the rest of the game with a towel over his head. Jefferson with a season-low three catches for 28 yards.
Jefferson came into the game tied for sixth in the NFL with 33 catches, and second in the league with 543 receiving yards.
"It was tough on him. He’s the ultimate competitor. We’ll get him back as soon as we possibly can, there won’t be a better teammate in that locker room. I know he’s a captain, he’s done everything the right way. Absolutely love him and what he brings," Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said after the loss. "The progression will be something we have to work through."
As for the game, it was another day of self-inflicted mistakes for the Vikings in another loss. Josh Oliver fumbled on the first offensive play of the game, and the Chiefs turned it into an Isiah Pacheco touchdown. The Vikings have now committed 12 turnovers on the season, an NFL-leading eight lost fumbles, three of which have come on the first possession the last three games.
The Vikings also had two other first-half drives in Chiefs’ territory end in field goals. Those need to be touchdowns when you’re facing Patrick Mahomes. One drive ended in an incompletion to T.J. Hockenson. The other was an incompletion to K.J. Osborn in the end zone.
"We need to start faster, first quarters need to be better. We need to protect the football, and we need to make plays when they’re there," Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "You come out of these games and you say there’s so much more production out there to be had. No matter how good it may have been, I find myself saying we left a lot of plays out there. There’s so much more we can do. I’m saying that again tonight."
There were more issues in the third quarter. O’Connell had to burn a timeout because the offense couldn’t get set for a play. He later burned another timeout challenging a Travis Kelce catch. It could’ve been a Josh Metellus interception, but the catch stood. The drive ended with Mahomes hitting Kelce, uncovered at the goal line, for a touchdown and 27-13 Chiefs lead with 2:45 left in the third quarter.
O’Connell lost the challenge, and didn’t agree with the result.
"I felt wholeheartedly that was worth a challenge. It was always going to come down to where they deemed that initial catch two steps and a football move. We ended up with the ball on the play as the receiver completed the catch. I absolutely would challenge that again," O’Connell said.
On that same drive, Harrison Smith was flagged for pass interference on a 4th-and-1 play, a ball underthrown to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
O'Connell had to burn his final timeout in the fourth quarter when the Vikings' defense wasn't set.
The Vikings also had what looked like a fourth down conversion in the fourth quarter on a defensive penalty against Jordan Addison, but after a discussion, the officials picked up the flag for a turnover on downs. Also on that play, L'Jarius Sneed took his helmet off while still on the field, normally a penalty. An official directly in front of him told him to put his helmet back on, but no flag.
"When the flag came out in the first place, I wasn’t surprised in the first place that was called a flag. Trying to figure out where and when that veered that other way. I want to be careful on this one, but that was very unfortunate," O’Connell said. "As well as a scenario there where not every player on the field had their helmet on. It is what it is, we’ve got to overcome whatever the adversity is and we didn’t do enough of that today. Every little thing matters in a game like this."
Addison was the bright spot, with six catches for 64 yards and a second quarter touchdown after the Vikings converted a fake punt for a first down.
Cousins and the Vikings got the ball back with 1:07 to play down 27-20 for one last chance. They got down to the Kansas City 38-yard line with five seconds to play, but Cousins was sacked to end the game before he could get a Hail Mary pass off. He finished 29-of-47 for 284 yards and two touchdowns, but fell victim to nine dropped passes by receivers, three by Hockenson. Cousins was also sacked three times.
Mahomes was 31-of-41 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs went 9-of-15 on third down, while the Vikings went just 6-of-14. Kelce, without Taylor Swift in attendance, had 10 catches for 67 yards and a score despite leaving the game late in the first half with an injury. He returned in time for a third quarter touchdown.
Not only are the Vikings 1-4 on the season, they're 0-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"I love this team, love the way they compete and these guys are itching to get back to work already, and that’s what this is going to be about. They’ll band together tight as ever," O’Connell said.