Sports

The Vikings improved, but the Dominant Eagles provided a dose of reality


Via Carmen Vitali
FOX Sports NFC North Writer

We may want to increase the time off on Minnesota Vikings exaggerated train.

Vikings storm out of the gate in Week 1, making a statement about arch-rivals Green Bay Packers behind the performance of 184 yards from the third year receiver Justin Jefferson.

Midfielder Kirk Cousin looks reborn under new head coach Kevin O’Connell, the defense looks rejuvenated along with Danielle Hunter and the old packer Za’Darius Smith and Minnesota are considered one of the most accomplished teams in NFC.

It all fell apart thanks to Philadelphia Eagles (and maybe a Monday Night Football curse).

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles Fletcher Cox #91 is forced to face Kirk Cousins ​​#8 of the Minnesota Vikings in Lincoln Financial Field Wednesday’s game on September 19, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)

Let’s avoid this: Eagles are very good. Really well. Midfielder Jalen Hurts displayed versatility, making good decisions throughout the night on every ball on the road to complete 26 of 31 pass attempts at 333 yards and long touch passes (plus rush scores) with passing index 108.7.

Where the Eagles are diverse and flexible in attack, the Vikings are tough and tough in defense. They refused to break out of the double-tall shell they had convinced themselves to be active again, even when faced with a true dual-threat midfielder like Hurts.

As a result, he took what they gave him – that’s a lot of room in the intermediate area of ​​the field – and took advantage of the subsequent lightboxes. Hurts hit 23 of his 25 passing attempts within 20 yards of the touchline – and that doesn’t mean Hurts doesn’t take his shots either. He hit Quez Watkins for a score of 53 yards in the second quarter after being bestowed with a pristine pocket in perhaps the best offensive line in football. In fact, the heroes of Lost in Hurts are the play from the previous year. They unlocked the full range of this Philly foul, leading for a quick 163 yards thanks to the game’s passing efficiency. Minnesota followed it through the night.

The Vikings did nothing to help themselves either. Dallas Goedert dropped a first ball perfectly placed by Cousins ​​in the first half. Most especially, Kenneth Gainwell gave his team the ball at Philadelphia’s nine-yard line after parrying Hurts’ only interception all night. Instead of leaving with a much-needed fourth-quarter score while dropping three points, the Eagles get a corner Darius Slay signed up for a second intercept of Cousins ​​during the night – again in front of wide receiver Justin Jefferson and this time, in the end area.

While the ball to Jefferson in the back yard was certainly poorly played by Cousins, the first intercept might not have been all in midfield. Jefferson fell behind Slay in the third quarter, allowing Slay to be in the position Jefferson was supposed to fill. The cousins ​​threw the ball anyway, with the expectation that Jefferson would be there, and it felt like the beginning of the end for the Vikings.

After that interception in the third inning, the “drive scheme” was intercept, intercept, intercept and finally (maybe mercifully) they timed out on final possession, giving in. Eagles 24-7.

So while the Vikings looked almost unstoppable in Week 1, Week 2 has revealed the cracks that still exist in Minnesota. Cousins ​​still struggled on Monday night. The defense still seems limited against perhaps more unfamiliar opponents. And while he’s still a phenom, Justin Jefferson isn’t immune to making mistakes.

This is not going to make or break Minnesota’s season. Like we said earlier, the Eagles are a really good team. Vikings will play Lion in Week 3 before facing another road test in the Superdome against New Orleans Saints. A playoff berth is not beyond the imagination, and it could end up being a truly successful first season of the O’Connell era in Minnesota. But there’s undeniably some wind that’s been getting out of the “sail” in Philly, and expectations can be only slightly lower than last week.

Over two weeks, each team in the NFC North drew 1-1.

Carmen Vitali covers NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen has had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, adding the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.


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