MINNEAPOLIS — That’s three Vikings home games in 2019 and three 21-point leads created in a first half.
The difference on Sunday was the Eagles mounted more of a comeback attempt than the Falcons in Week 1 or the Raiders in Week 3.
The Vikings reclaimed momentum with the first of two impressive touchdown drives, scoring the only points in the final 20-plus minutes for a 38-20 victory.
Pre-game question: How would the Vikings respond to their first substantial challenge by a team during a game at U.S. Bank Stadium this season?
View postgame celebration images from Sunday as the Vikings beat the Eagles by a 38-20 score.
The spike of Adam Thielen after the first score of the game (a 6-yard pass from Kirk Cousins), end zone “sprint” by Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook after Diggs’ 62-yard touchdown catch and one-play, 51-yard drive that lasted the length of one flightpath from Cousins to Diggs seemed like distant memories.
The Eagles found the purple paint on a 32-yard pass from Carson Wentz to Miles Sanders midway through the second quarter, drove 75 yards in six plays for a short touchdown pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffery and added a 40-yard field goal that made it 24-20 with 6:19 left in the third quarter.
Up by just four, the Vikings hit back, marching 75 yards over the course of nine plays and consuming 5:03 of clock.
The possession opened with a 13-yard pass to Diggs after a play-action fake to Cook. Cousins had time to find Diggs sitting down in an open part of Philadelphia’s zone coverage.
Cousins then threw a quick one to Diggs for a gain of 8 with help from Cook, who picked up the pass rush.
Cousins then escaped another quality rush, veered to the right and kept the play alive, allowing rookie Bisi Johnson to streak toward the sideline and make a sliding catch for a gain of 16.
Next, the Vikings tried to get extra crafty with a double-reverse pass by Diggs.
Brandon Graham played the handoff from Thielen to Diggs well and pressured him on the Norseman at midfield. Diggs juked the defensive end, then made his way past safety Malcolm Jenkins at the Philadelphia 47 and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox at the 43. He turned what could have been a loss of about 12 into a gain of 8.
Cook then rushed for gains of 6 and 5 before Cousins threw another quick one to Thielen at the line of scrimmage that turned into a gain of 8.
A shovel pass completed to rookie Irv Smith, Jr., was stuffed for no gain by Graham, but Cousins followed by zipping one over the middle that Diggs speared from the air.
The Vikings defense followed by causing a punt on Philadelphia’s next possession thanks to a sack on a blitz by Eric Kendricks and Mackensie Alexander.
Kendricks forced a fumble that Anthony Barr recovered to end the Eagles next possession, and Alexander intercepted Wentz’s next pass attempt with 5:36 left in the game.
“Overall, I was pleased with the way we came out and fought. You know, [it] got close there for a little bit, and defensively, we came out and fought like crazy, and then the offense went back out and scored again. … Yeah, that was big because I’m sure there was a lot of doubt in the stadium because they’re a very explosive team.”
— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
“I appreciate you bringing that up because that was a key moment in the game. I could feel the momentum slipping. Momentum is a big part of football, and when you win 38 to 20, whatever it was, you forget about that moment where it could have gone the other way, and I think it was crucial that our offense was able to grab some momentum back, move the football and get points, and then pile it on from there. So that was a big moment, and to be able to stand up and respond was a really good thing for our team to do.”
— Kirk Cousins
“We know they’re going to make runs and things like that. It was good to see us respond to that run they made and hit them in the mouth. … That’s a good team. We persevered. There’s a lot of stuff that happened through the course of the game … momentum swings and stuff like that. But we stuck to it and stuck to our roots.”
— Eric Kendricks
“They’re a good football team. They’re well-coached and have a lot of great players. They’re not going to go down without a fight. We weathered the storm there and were able to come out on top.”
— Anthony Barr
“Just staying grounded, just staying positive, knowing when you face good teams in this league, people want to make a push to try to get back in the game. When they try to make a run, it’s just about staying composed and making plays and continuing to fight offensively and defensively to try to swing the momentum back our way.”
— Anthony Harris