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Vikings Defense Struggles to Establish Rhythm Against Eagles

It was a tale of two halves for the Vikings defense on Monday night in Philadelphia.

Overall, Minnesota allowed the Eagles to net 486 yards of total offense, 323 of those from the air, and 25 first downs.

"It didn't feel like we were able to get in any type of rhythm," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "Good play, bad play, couple of bad plays, a good play, there was no rhythm. We couldn't sustain momentum and we weren't able to execute the way we wanted to. It's frustrating because it felt like everything was together and everything went right [last week], and this week, it felt completely opposite."

The opening 30 minutes went south quickly. Quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense showed their offensive firepower early and often in the first half, marching 82 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown on their first drive for the only score of the first quarter.

Hurts then opened the second quarter with a 53-yard strike to wide receiver Quez Watkins for a touchdown.

After Minnesota answered with a score of its own on a 2-yard pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins to tight end Irv Smith, Jr., Hurts drove the Eagles into Vikings territory before running it in from 26 yards out to complete an 85-yard drive and push Philadelphia's lead to 21-7.

Then, after a Vikings punt, Hurts quickly moved the Eagles downfield to set up a 38-yard field goal from Jake Elliott.

In the second half, though, Minnesota's defense stepped up.

Outside linebacker Danielle Hunter got a sack against Hurts before cornerback Patrick Peterson dove in front of Elliott's 41-yard attempt. Kris Boyd recovered and ran all the way down to the Philadelphia 30-yard line.

"I felt like I had a good shot all game on both sides. I feel like I was getting some really good get-offs," Peterson said on the block. "They got me early on in the game with the false start, but then I started to get indications of when the ball was going to get hiked.

"I got a great jump; Josh Metellus did a great job of grabbing the arm of that left wing, and I came across the edge very free," Peterson added. "I think I got it on the fifth step, and if you want to block field goals, it has to be on that fifth or fourth step. I think that's the fourth one in my career now, so just keep it going."

After forcing a Philadelphia punt early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings came up with another big takeaway. Hicks, the former Eagle, intercepted a pass that bounced off the hands of Philly running back Kenneth Gainwell. Hicks returned it to the Eagles 9-yard line.

Peterson said they were able to make defensive adjustments throughout the game, but not the ones to put themselves in a better position.

"Those guys did a great job of attacking some of the weaknesses of our defense, especially that weak side," Peterson said. "Now we know the other team's going to try to attack us the same way, so now we have to go back and look at the film, clean up the mistakes and put ourselves in better positions to defend those plays and we'll see what happens after that."

View photos from the Vikings-Eagles Monday Night Football game on Sept. 19 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Vikings were able to keep Philadelphia off the scoreboard in the second half, but Head Coach Kevin O'Connell knows they have a lot to work on.

"Ultimately when I look back, there were some ops for us, third-and-long where they were able to, you know, [Hurts] puts a lot of pressure on the defense with how he can break contain and make some off-schedule plays," O'Connell said. "Especially early in the game, I thought we were right there, and they just made the play. That's where you've got to give them credit.

"We'll obviously have to evaluate the things we can do better coaching staff-wise and really me personally to really put our entire team in position to not only get off to a faster start, but then be ready to bow up and respond like we talk a lot about doing," O'Connell added.