The Philadelphia Eagles crushed the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, 24-7. The lopsided score doesn’t even convey the thoroughness of the defeat. The Eagles controlled the tempo from the start. Quarterback Jalen Hurts made plays almost effortlessly, while Minnesota’s offense felt stagnant on the road.
Hurts had already thrown for almost 200 yards and a score at the half, with just three incompletions. He also ran for two scores. Hurts was able to consistently take advantage of the soft coverage the Vikings’ secondary gave him. Last week, Vikings fans were celebrating the Christian Watson drop, but they saw a similar play go against them when tight end Irv Smith Jr. bobbled a pass to potentially bring the Vikings within one score at the half.
The roles were reversed in the second half. The defense was able to hold the Eagles scoreless and even create some chances for the offense, but that same offense squandered multiple opportunities. They allowed several ugly turnovers that made overcoming an early deficit even more difficult.
The game appropriately ended with Kirk Cousins not even attempting a fourth-down play in the final seconds to make the score look a little less lopsided. Instead, they conceded.
Here are five numbers that tell the story of the Vikings’ Monday night flop.
Jalen Hurts started the game on fire, completing his first 10 passes. In the first half, Hurts dissected Minnesota’s secondary almost every time he dropped back. Outside of a few sacks early on, the Vikings were unable to get any sort of pressure.
Hurts sat back in the pocket and made decisions with impunity. It didn’t matter if he was hitting Miles Sanders in the flat, DeVonta Smith over the middle, or even a deep pass to a wide-open Quez Watkins. Every time Hurts threw the ball, it felt like it was destined to hit an Eagles receiver between the numbers.
While the stage might not have been as big this time, Minnesota’s first-half performance had shades of the infamous 38-7 loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
Cousins didn’t do the Vikings any favors in the second half, throwing three interceptions in the red zone and stalling any hope of a Minnesota comeback. After the shaky first half, the Vikings’ offense was able to move the ball on the first possession of the third quarter. But as things looked to be getting back on track, Cousins floated a pass to the end zone that Darius Slay intercepted.
The Eagles drove the ball downfield after Slay’s pick, but Patrick Peterson blocked a field goal, giving the Vikings another opportunity to make it a close game. However, that didn’t happen. Avonte Maddox picked off Cousins’ third-down pass intended for Adam Thielen.
Jordan Hicks‘ interception late in the game gave the Vikings a chance to make it close. Minnesota started the drive on their own nine-yard line with seven minutes left. Cousins threw another interception to Slay.
The Vikings didn’t enter halftime down 24-7 due to Cousins’ play. However, his crucial turnovers in the second half stalled any chances of a resurgence. Minnesota’s defense and special teams provided the offense with two clear-cut scoring chances, and they came up empty both times.
Cousins struggled to get the ball downfield. He went 0/4 on passes over 10 yards with two interceptions outside of garbage time. After last week where Cousins hit Jefferson on deep throws with ease, he looked like a shell of the player he was in Week 1. Cousins floated any pass over 10 yards with nothing but a prayer that it would land in his receiver’s hands.
Cousins doesn’t deserve all the blame for not getting the ball downfield, though. O’Connell and Irv Smith Jr. are due their fair share. On Cousins’ first deep-pass attempt, he found Smith wide open behind the defense, but Smith dropped the ball on what looked like a walk-in touchdown. This drop, combined with the pressure the Eagles’ front four was getting and the hostile environment in Philadelphia, led to a decline in Cousins’ play.
O’Connell is also responsible for his inability to get favorable matchups this week. Last week, he found ways to put Jefferson in motion to get him isolated against linebackers and safeties. In Philadelphia, Slay lined up against Jefferson on almost every play, and Jefferson often couldn’t find free space.
The Vikings’ run defense was as much of a liability as the pass defense, allowing the Eagles to rumble for 163 yards. Coming into this game, everyone knew the Eagles have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL with Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott. Plus, Hurts is more than competent as a ball carrier. Philadelphia’s offensive line won in the trenches, hindering Minnesota’s ability to defend the run.
On one of Sanders’ runs up the middle, Jason Kelce was able to first-chip Dalvin Tomlinson on the inside and give some help to his right guard. Then he took off to the second level and sealed off Eric Kendricks. While the O-line’s eagerness to get to the second level caused multiple flags for ineligible men downfield, they catered the offense to their strengths by getting their O-linemen out in front of plays.
Dalvin Cook had a quiet night, finishing with 17 yards on six carries. After observing how the Detroit Lions moved the ball against the Eagles using the run game in Week 1, I thought Cook would have a more prominent role this week. Instead, Cook finished tied for the second leading rusher behind Cousins, who tallied three more yards.
The game script called for more passes early with the deficit growing, but when he did get the ball in his hands, Cook couldn’t do anything. His hands were shaky at best, and he had multiple screen attempts blow up in his face.
Although the situation dictated that the Vikings needed to throw the ball more, they needed to eventually find a happy medium between the passing game and the run. Cook needs to get some volume if the Vikings offense wants to control the clock early, and he can’t end up with the same amount of rushing yards as Jalen Reagor.