Eagles sluggish, Vikings fumble as Philly hangs on to win
The Vikings didn’t just lose to the Eagles. For the second time in as many games this season, they didn’t give themselves a chance to win.
The Vikings lost three fumbles in the first half alone, including one by receiver Justin Jefferson as he attempted to extend the ball into the end zone, and finished with four in the game. Combined with their sloppy performance in a Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Vikings became the first NFL team since 2003 to lose six fumbles in the first two games of a season.
Who knows how this game, or last week’s game, would have played out had the Vikings managed to hold on to the ball. Even with the turnovers, they managed to turn a 27-7 deficit into a one-score game midway on two different occasions in the fourth quarter. In either event, they’re 0-2 with games looming against two of the NFL’s top quarterbacks — Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes — along with one of its best overall teams, the San Francisco 49ers. The Vikings will have to find answers quickly before the season gets away from them.
Troubling trend: The Vikings haven’t had anything resembling a running game in either game this season. Frankly they’ve hardly tried, and it’s only fair to recall their decision to part ways with former starter Dalvin Cook in June and replace him with longtime backup Alexander Mattison.
Mattison managed just 28 yards on eight carries Thursday night, a week after gaining 34 yards on 11 carries. Mattison also accounted for one of the Vikings’ fumbles Thursday night.
Biggest hole in the game plan: On the other hand, the Vikings could not stop the Eagles’ running game. Replacement starter Swift finished with 175 yards, and the Eagles rushed for 259 overall by taking advantage of an unusual and ultimately unsuccessful defensive alignment.
The Vikings have adopted a three-safety look as their base defense, and they spent much of the first three quarters using defensive fronts that included either two, one or occasionally no defensive linemen. The Eagles had an extraordinary physical edge upfront, and they took advantage of it.
Pivotal play: Jefferson tied the NFL record for fewest number of games needed (52) to reach 5,000 career receiving yards. He also became the first NFL player since 2011 to have 150 or more receiving yards in each of his first two games of a season. But it was a play he was not able to make that seemed to turn the tide Thursday night. Stretching to reach the ball over the goal line after a 30-yard reception in the second quarter, Jefferson lost control. A replay review confirmed that the ball flew over the pylon, which resulted in a touchback and a turnover.
A touchdown would have given the Vikings a 14-10 lead, but instead the Eagles took over and got a 61-yard field goal from Jake Elliott on the final play of the half to take a 13-7 lead into the locker room. — Kevin Seifert
Next game: vs. Chargers (1 p.m. ET, Sept. 24)