Philadelphia 34 v Minnesota 28
By The Dunkin Dad
There’s nothing quite like your Home Opener, especially when it’s in Philly. Coming off a lackluster win in New England last week; the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) looked to capitalize on the raucous environment that is Lincoln Financial Field, and put the visiting Minnesota Vikings (0-1) away early. The Eagles game plan was simple: strike early and strike often, while dominating the line on both sides of the ball.
Speaking of early, the parking lots around the Linc began to fill up around 4:30 AM, and the tailgating only grew as the day progressed towards Kickoff. Say what you want about Philadelphia Eagles Fans, but they show up in droves to support their beloved Iggles.
Shortly, after the usual Thursday Night Primetime fanfare, multiple celebrity sightings, and introductory calls to “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble ” (M. Buffer); the Game kicked off.
Eagles vs Vikings – Thursday Night Football
The Eagles received the opening kickoff and what initially appeared to be a promising drive, highlighted by a DeVonta Smith 54 yard reception, was quickly derailed after three short yardage plays (inside the 10) resulting in a Jake Elliott 24 yd FG.
What followed was a series of inept offensive possessions from both teams.
On the Vikings opening drive, they would gain a total of 16 yards, on 4 plays; running a whopping 1:40 seconds off the clock, before punting.
Not to be out done, the Eagles amassed 4 yards, on 3 plays in 1:59 seconds, before punting the ball away; Minnesota wasn’t happy with this and promptly fumbled the ball during the return; setting up the Eagles offense again.
You guessed it: 6 plays later, 17 yards gained and 3:11 off the clock, Jalen Hurts (18/23, 193, 1 TD, 1 INT) threw a perfect pass to the Vikings secondary as he attempted to find DeVonta Smith across the middle; handing the ball right back to the Vikings.
A game of Hot Potato had begun and Minnesota answered the bell!
Anything you can do, I can do better say the Vikings. On the very next play from scrimmage, Mattison (8 carries, 28 yds) would take the ball for a 2 yard gain, run 8 seconds off the clock, and Fumble the ball right back to the Eagles.
So, here we are full circle, in the midst of this comedy of errors and it’s only fitting that prior to time running out in the First Quarter; Jake Elliott would be given an opportunity to somehow extend the Eagles lead. As the football gods would have it, this was not meant to be. Elliott lined up for a very makeable 55 yd FG attempt and of course, he pushed it wide right. 3-0 Eagles lead.
Surely, this couldn’t be any worse than the first 15 minutes of the game could it?
Drawing off the good field position provided by the missed Elliott FG, Minnesota conducted a well balanced 9 play drive, covering 55 yards in just over 5 minutes; topping it off with a Cousins to Hockenson 5 yd TD catch. 7-3 Vikings Lead
After finding little success with their aerial attack, they opted to do what they do best, Run The D*mn Ball. 16 plays, 75 yds, 7:55 later the Eagles were “tush-pushing” Jalen Hurts across the goal line. 10-7 Eagles lead.
As the second quarter was winding down, the Vikings appeared to be keeping pace with the Eagles and on a 2nd & 10 play with just under a minute to go, Cousins found Justin Jefferson with a deep pass short of the end zone. Unfortunately, for the Vikings, Jefferson fumbled across the pylon, resulting in a touch back; Philadelphia ball.
This time, the Eagles were not so generous with their miscues and promptly moved the ball down the field, making use of all 3 of their timeouts; setting up Jake Elliott for a 61 yard FG attempt, which he nailed as time expired in the first half. 13-7 Eagles
The Vikings received the second half kickoff and in true Minnesota fashion (on the road, in Primetime) they would run 2 plays for -10 yards, Fumble the ball and 33 seconds later the Eagles would be escorting Jalen Hurts back into the End Zone for a 20-7 Eagles lead.
At this point, the Eagles knew they had the Vikings on the ropes and after a dismal 3 & out punt; the Birds offense wasted no time in striking.
Jalen Hurts would find DeVonta Smith for a 63 yard touchdown and the home team looked like they were in complete control. 27-7 Eagles.
However, like all good prize fights; the Vikings rallied and on the very next series, Cousins found Addison for a 62 yard touchdown of their own. 27-14 Eagles.
The next three possessions were a return to futility; as each team exchanged punts.
The Vikings got within a score when they had one of their most complete drives of the evening. A balanced 9 play, 86 yard drive culminating with a Cousins to Osborn td. 27-21 Eagles.
The Eagles would take the ensuing kickoff, run D’Andre Swift in a methodical ground and pound attack, running all over, around and through Minnesota’s depleted defensive front. 8 plays (7 rush) and 75 yards later; the Birds extended the lead 34-21
Surely, the Vikings were done and couldn’t respond to this mighty body blow just delivered by the Eagles ground game (48 attempts yielding 259 yards on the evening), but somehow they dug deep and went on one final drive; because well the script said “hammer the over”.
As time was winding down, with 1:10 left to go in the game, Cousins found TE TJ Hockenson (7, 66 & 2 TD) for his second score of the game. 34-28 Eagles
The Vikings would get one Final possession after an Eagles 3 & out; mostly due to Minnesota having all of their timeouts; but could only muster a hapless Hail Mary toss that fell harmlessly to the ground. 34-28 Eagles Final.
Anyone who says this Eagles team is primed to repeat as NFC Champions, and they are not concerned, is either drinking too much SeaIsle Iced Tea, Hoop Tea or Fireball shots at Xfinity Live.
Aside from the run game (which was invisible last week), the offense looks disorganized and completely out of sync. Star WR AJ Brown (4, 29 yards) was seen, on the sideline, expressing his displeasure in the offensive play calling, causing his best friend, Hurts (QB) to act as a buffer between him and the coaching staff. While I agree with AJ in some regards; some evenings things are flowing, sometimes they are not. Nonetheless, this does not excuse what appears to be a glaring problem; Jalen Hurts is still not seeing the entire field, is taking too long to get rid of the ball, and is not throwing his receivers open.
You can blame this on play calling, coordinator issues (first year OC Johnson); but winners don’t make excuses, they make plays. Yes, you take what the defense gives you, but let’s be honest, the Eagles offense is far superior to the Vikings defense. Although they scored 34 points as a team, 10 of them came via Jake Elliott including that 61 yard rocket. (2 FG, 4/4 XP 10 points)
Things need to be cleaned up and they need to be addressed asap. The Eagles have been very fortunate to play subpar opponents the first two weeks and now have 10 days to right the ship as they travel down to Tampa to face the surprisingly balanced Buccaneers. (1-0*).
On the injury front, they just keep adding up. Avonte Maddox left last night’s game with a chest injury after assisting on a tackle near the sideline. This now puts Philadelphia into a dire need for help in their already depleted secondary. Blankenship, Bradberry and now another starting cover man; can’t defend if you have no personnel.
The Defensive front continues to look formidable and Rookie Jalen Carter is a straight beast; total domination of whomever is in front of him. The one glaring omission for a second straight week however is that of Haason Reddick. One of the Eagles most feared defenders coming off an impressive last season, poised to take on the mantle of the next great South Philly Edge Rusher, has been nothing short of a disappointment so far (2 gp, 0 tackles, 1 Asst). That is simply not acceptable.
Stronger, more balanced, and more efficient teams are on the Eagles horizon. Division play is set to begin October 1st vs Washington and the Philadelphia Eagles need to dig deep, find that fire and reassert themselves as the Class of the NFC. Only time will tell and as of now the Eagles sit atop the NFC East with a very suspect 2-0 record.