The Minnesota Vikings need to learn how to finish.
After taking a 17-7 halftime lead over San Diego on Sunday, the Vikings couldn't stop Philip Rivers, Mike Tolbert and the rest of the Chargers. Rivers threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tolbert with 5:01 to play and the Chargers won 24-17.
"We blew it," said defensive end Jared Allen, who intercepted Rivers late in the third quarter. "We were up 10 points and we allowed them to open up with a touchdown and kick a field goal" in the second half.
Allen would have preferred a win over having an interception.
"Big plays are fun to make and we'd be sitting here laughing about it but instead we're going to talk about how we didn't do enough to win," Allen said. "Unfortunately we let a game we were in control of out of our fingertips but hopefully we can learn from it and get better."
The Chargers rebounded from yet another special teams blunder and an injury to kicker Nate Kaeding to turn the boos to cheers at Qualcomm Stadium. Fans who thought they were seeing another slow start under coach Norv Turner instead got a victory.
Rivers rolled left and waited for Tolbert to get open inside the 5-yard line, then lobbed the winning pass. Rivers completed 33 of 48 passes for 335 yards and was intercepted twice. Tolbert also scored on a 7-yard run in the third quarter and had a 1-yard TD catch in the first quarter.
After the half, Minnesota gained 26 yards the rest of the game. Their new quarterback, Donovan McNabb, struggled against San Diego's defense and was only 7 of 15 for 39 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
"We had opportunities and they're a tough team," McNabb. "I felt like we brought it to them. We have to make changes and understand what we did wrong and correct them."
With the Vikings leading 17-14 in the third quarter, Peterson gained 12 yards on the first two carries before the drive sputtered when they ran two wildcat plays behind Joe Webb. The Vikings didn't get another first down the rest of the game.
"It's something that keeps the defense on its toes," McNabb said. "I thought both plays would be good for us. It just didn't work out as well as we wanted. It's something we're looking to do."
On their next possession, the Chargers kicked the game-tying field goal.
Peterson, who set the NFL single-game record with 296 yards against San Diego as a rookie in 2007, had 98 yards on 16 carries one day after signing a contract extension potentially worth $100 million.
San Diego's rally included Tolbert bulling in from the 7 early in the third quarter and punter Mike Scifres kicking his first NFL field goal, a 40-yarder with 10:05 left that tied the game at 17.
Vikings lament their blown lead
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