CARSON, Calif. — It was pretty clear from the start of Sunday’s game that Philip Rivers wanted to attack Mike Hughes. To open the second quarter, Rivers completed a touchdown drive by throwing a 50-50 ball against Hughes in the end zone. Receiver Mike Williams came down with the ball to put the Chargers up 10-9. The rest of the day would belong to the Vikings’ defense.
The Vikings forced seven turnovers, the most under Mike Zimmer, on Sunday, one of which belonged to Hughes. While his first interception since opening day 2018 came late in the game, he did not allow many other chances for the veteran quarterback to target him.
“I’m getting more comfortable getting into a groove, finding myself as an elite corner, I’m still trying to work toward that goal,” Hughes said.” Most importantly we just want to win. Getting this 10th win is really important and it feels good.”
Before the game the former UCF standout was looking for information from his teammates on playing the ball better.
“I’ve never seen a linebacker cover as good as [Eric Kendricks] does, play through the hands as good as he does,” Hughes said. “I actually asked him a few tips today on how to play through the hands to get the ball out because he does a good job of it.”
Hughes played nearly the entire game after Xavier Rhodes left early with a leg issue. Whether Rhodes is able to play down the stretch or not, we are going to see more of the ’18 first-rounder. Prior to Rhodes’ injury in the first quarter he and Hughes were mixing in and out of the game for the second straight week.
“We know everybody that we have in depth can play,” Hughes said. “It’s just about being smart, having a rotation and keeping everybody fresh. I think it’s working out pretty well for us.”
Last year Hughes opened the season with a pick-six against the San Francisco 49ers but suffered a season-ending ACL injury midway through the year that kept him out until Week 3 of this year. Now it appears his role is going to be vital to the Vikings’ success against the pass heading into the final two weeks and in the postseason. The Vikings play Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers next week and have possibilities of playing a number of different top-notch QBs in the playoffs, including Rodgers, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Sunday’s win may act as a turning point in Hughes’ confidence against those passing attacks.
“It feels good but I want to give a lot of credit to our defense and the whole team,” Hughes said. “We came out and played really great. It felt good to finally get my hands on one. I look forward to getting some more…it wasn’t all on me, it was a great coverage call, great play by the D-line.”