Philly welcomed Minnesota back to town Monday night with similar determination, five years after the Eagles rolled over the Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field to advance to the Super Bowl. Despite entering with high hopes after the Packers’ loss in Week 1, Kevin O’Connell’s upstart crew looked lifeless from start to finish, while Nick Sirianni’s Eagles had arguably the best performance of young quarterback Jalen Hurts’ career. Coupled with an opportunistic defense, the Hurts helped the Birds outscore 24-7, which was never close to the final score.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Monday night’s prime-time showdown:
Why did the Eagles win?
Jalen Hurts has officially arrived as a franchise-caliber quarterback, and Jonathan Cannon’s defense has finally given him a sterling fill-in effort. After beating the Lions mostly with their feet in Week 1, Hurts was the total package in primetime, dicing Minnesota’s secondary from start to finish and screaming through tackles as this week’s top QB rusher. He was precise, efficient and absorbed it deeply, using his chakras only when necessary. It was a true breakout performance involving the likes of AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.
Defensively, Cannon’s unit was impressive, limiting Justin Jefferson to short targets early, completely eliminating a Dalvin Cook-led rushing attack and sacking Kirk Cousins twice in the red zone. Star corner Darius Slay outplayed Jefferson in coverage to shut down Kevin O’Connell’s offense in every aspect. By the end of the night, Slay had two picks and could have easily had five, and Cannon benefited from using more blitzes.
Why did the Vikings lose?
The wide-open gap they enjoyed in the season-opening road against the Packers was nowhere to be seen. Kirk Cousins got zero run support, routinely failed to connect with his elite receiving corps, and then threw late, desperate for a spark. Nothing clicked with Kevin O’Connell’s preferred ball, where Dalvin Cook was a full factor and pass catchers took turns dropping key throws — none more so than Irv Smith Jr.’s score.
Defensively, Ed Donadell’s feisty unit lost all of its sizzle from the previous week, playing soft coverage to enable Jalen Hurts’ smooth sailing, especially as Camryn Bynum struggled in the back end during a pair of Eagles TD drives. The energy level never seemed to be there for Minnesota, which averaged less than four yards per pass attempt. Patrick Peterson tried to reignite their fight with a field goal block, but otherwise, the club was unhappy.
You can point to one of Jalen Hurts’ second or third TDs that declared the Eagles a win in front of their screaming home crowd. Hurts uncorked a perfect deep flatter to put Philly up 14-0 on a 53-yard run by Kyuse Watkins, who then watched the QB bulldoze through Vikings defenders for a 26-yard TD run. Ahead of two marks. Minnesota trailed by several scores the rest of the tournament.
Game of the game
It belonged to Hurts, whose struggle for a first-half score was a reminder that he’s one of the NFL’s best dual-threats:
The Eagles (2-0) will travel to Washington for their first NFC East matchup of the year against the Commanders (1-1), who fell to the Lions on Sunday. The Vikings (1-1), meanwhile, will return home for a showdown with Detroit.
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