Vikings 21, Chargers 17
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Tommy Kramer completed his first pass to a wide receiver all game, a 26- yarder to Leo Lewis with 19 seconds to play, lifting the Minnesota Vikings to a 21-17 National Football League victory Sunday.
Kramer completed 31 of 46 passes for 311 yards. An interception by Linden King with about 11 minutes to play had set up San Diego’s go-ahead touchdown, a 1-yard dive by Tim Spencer with 6:13 to play.
San Diego’s drive was directed by Dan Fouts, who replaced an ineffective Mark Herrmann in the fourth quarter after having missed most of the last two games with a knee injury.
Five plays after John Turner intercepted Herrmann’s final pass of the game late in the third quarter and returned it to Minnesota’s 36-yard line, Kramer found tight end Mark Mullarkey wide open for a 51-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth period to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead.
Fouts completed seven of 10 passes for 64 yards after replacing Herrmann, who was 12 of 26 for 128 yards. Spencer ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
Kramer’s favorite targets were running back Darrin Nelson, who caught 12 passes for 67 yards, and tight end Steve Jordan, who had eight catches for 91 yards.
The victory gave the Vikings a 4-3 record, while San Diego fell to 3-4.
San Diego took a 7-0 lead, as Spencer set up his own 2-yard touchdown burst with a 24-yard run on the Chargers’ initial possession.
The Vikings pulled into a 7-7 tie 4:09 into the second quarter on Allen Rice’s 1-yard run after Chargers Gill Byrd and Danny Walters were called for consecutive pass interference penalties.
San Diego took a 10-7 halftime lead on Bob Thomas’ 42-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the half.
In addition to Fouts, two other injured former All-Pros, tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Wes Chandler, also came off the bench for the Chargers. Winslow had been out since last midseason with a serious knee injury; Chandler missed last game with an ankle ailment. Both played sparingly.
San Diego combined runs and short passes in their 67-yard, game-opening touchdown march. After Spencer’s long run brought San Diego to Minnesota’s 30- yard line, Herrmann completed his third pass of the drive, a 16-yarder to Pete Holohan on third down. Spencer scored three plays later.
Kramer came out firing on the Vikings’ first possession, completing his first six passes for 57 yards. Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty on King, Minnesota drove to the Chargers’ 13-yard line.
But after Anthony Carter dropped a Kramer pass, Minnesota had to settle for Jan Stenerud’s 30-yard field goal attempt. And when Stenerud’s kick hit the left upright, the Vikes came away empty. Stenerud also missed a 46-yarder in the second half.
Kramer, who was intercepted by San Diego defensive end Lee Williams near the end of the first quarter on a blind screen pass, had 18 completions in 26 attempts for 158 yards in the first half. Nelson caught eight passes for 49 yards and Jordan grabbed five for 54.
Herrmann, whose receivers dropped several passes, was nine of 17 for 95 yards. Spencer ran eight times for 60 yards as the Chargers outrushed the Vikings 53-6 in the first quarter and 95-19 in the opening half.