Diggs Gashes Eagles Secondary as Vikings Cruise
(973espn.com) - Kirk Cousins gutted an ailing Eagles secondary, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns as the Minnesota Vikings routed Philadelphia, 38-20, in the home of the Eagles' Super Bowl LII win, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Vikings started out on fire, scoring on their first four possessions, including two long Stefon Diggs touchdown receptions as the Minnesota star receivers terrorized Philadelphia's starting cornerbacks, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones.
Adam Thielen started the scoring on the first drive of the game, victimizing Sidney Jones, who struggled in his return from his latest hamstring injury, with a textbook out-and-up route. After Dan Bailey booted a 39-yard field goal and Jake Elliott answered with a 53-yarder on his own, Diggs scorched the Eagles with TDs of 62 and 51 yards, running by Douglas and taking advantage of some miscommunication on the back end.
Down 24-3, the Eagles didn't give in and made it a game again with 17 consecutive points but the mountain was too great and the third Diggs score of the afternoon, an 11-yard strike from Cousins with Craig James trailing late in the third quarter restored order for Minnesota.
Carson Wentz actually had one of his best games as a professional often extending plays to keep Philadelphia drives alive but got little help from is WR corps other than Alshon Jeffery. Overall Wentz finished 26-of-40 for 306 yards with touchdowns to Miles Sanders and Jeffery. His lone INT came late in the game with Philadelphia pressing and taking chances.
Sanders was a bright spot in the receiving game, catching three for 86 yards, but continues to struggle as a runner. Jordan Howard was the main option there with 13 totes for 49 yards.
Diggs ended with seven catches for 167 yards.
Bigger than the loss for the 3-3 Eagles could be the ever-escalating injury situation as starting linebacker Nigel Bradham was forced out of the game with an ankle injury and left tackle Jason Peters tapped out with an ailing knee.
Next up on the docket is a visit to Dallas next Sunday night.
EAGLES SUNDAY STOCK MARKET:
QB Carson Wentz - If you want to know why wins and losses aren't a QB stat, put in the tape of this game. Wentz was spectacular in willing his team back from a 24-3 deficit, extending play after play and allowing his separation-challenged receivers time to clear coverage. If Wentz plays like this every week the Eagles will be fine.
RB Miles Sanders as a pass-catcher - The Eagles thought they might have something with the explosive Sanders as a receiver because Minnesota trusts its LBs so much in coverage and it turned out that way as Sanders got loose twice, one against Eric Kendricks for a 32-yard TD and again against Anthony Barr for a 45-yarder on a wheel route that set up another TD.
DL Brandon Graham - Graham continues to be a terror on both the edge and the interior, recorder his fourth sacks in two weeks when he used Pat Elflein as a turnstile.
Cornerbacks Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, and Craig James - This trio will be seeing Diggs and Thielen in their sleep and simply can't hold up against top-tier receivers. Jalen Mills can't come back soon enough.
Every WR not named Alshon Jeffery - Other than the rangy Jeffery, who typically has Xavier Rhodes' number, the Eagles struggled to gain separation against the Minnesota secondary.
Fake Field Goal - Late in the first half the Eagles were given a gift when a potential Cousins first-down pass bounced off Diggs' helmet and ended in Andrew Sendejo's hands. They moved into FG position when Doug Pederson and Dave Fipp got the lookthey wanted and went with a fake FG. The Vikings were ready and interceped the football. With the seconds waning, a first down would have netted nothing more than a slightly-easier attempt so the trickery came across as nothing more than hubris to create another "moment" at U.S. Bank Stadium.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen