PHILADELPHIA – The Vikings offense never took flight in Philly.
After an explosive performance at home in Week 1, Kirk Cousins and Company simply couldn't find any rhythm on the Monday Night Football stage.
Mistakes were made across the board, and among them were a trio of interceptions in the second half that kept the Vikings from getting back in the game.
Minnesota tried bouncing back from a 24-7 halftime deficit, putting together what looked to be a nice drive to start the third quarter. But after stacking some consecutive chunk plays and spreading the ball around, things went awry.
On second-and-10 from the 19, Cousins fired toward Justin Jefferson in the end zone. Cornerback Darius Slay made sure the ball never made it to Jefferson, though, intercepting Cousins and adding a 19-yard return.
Jefferson took responsibility for the play.
"That's honestly on me. I'll take that one," he told reporters postgame. "I mean, I've gotta be flatter. If Slay's gonna sit on that type of route, I've gotta come flatter and be in front of him instead of going behind him. So that one's on me."
Cousins added: "I was just hoping he was going to come flat there, so that was what happened."
The turnover halted any momentum Minnesota had gained on that drive, preventing an opportunity to make it a two-score game.
Not even a blocked field goal later and ensuing possession that started at the Philadelphia 30-yard line could get the team never got back on track.
Adam Thielen, who had four catches for 52 yards, called the offense's lack of execution "extremely frustrating" – especially because he and his teammates know what the group is capable of.
"Last week we did the things we've talked about since OTAs. Tonight, we didn't do the things we've talked about since OTAs," Thielen said. "[Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell] had a great point about diffusing that momentum when it is swayed. We didn't do that tonight, and it was obviously crucial."
Late in the third quarter, Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson blocked an Eagles field goal attempt and returned the ball to Minnesota's offense with an opportunity to capitalize. But Cousins threw a second pick, this time a pass intended for Thielen. Cornerback Avonte Maddox made the play for Philadelphia.
The third interception occurred in the fourth quarter. Under pressure, Cousins lofted one to Jefferson in the back corner of the end zone, and Slay struck again.
"Those turnovers were just kind of those momentum killers," said O'Connell, who said he ultimately puts his first loss as a head coach directly on himself. "Every single [interception] has its own story, and we'll make sure we coach them up and put our guys in better positions."
Cousins finished the game 27-of-46 passing for 221 yards, one touchdown and the three interceptions. His passer rating was 51.1.
Jefferson and Thielen both emphasized that interceptions don't fall solely on Cousins.
"Interceptions are not a quarterback stat. It's a team stat," Thielen said. "It's an offensive stat because there's a lot of factors that lead into having success and failure."
And Cousins wasn't the only Viking who ran into trouble Monday. The Eagles played tight coverage multiple times, and several of Minnesota's offensive players had moments they wished they could do over.
The Vikings only points of the evening came via Irv Smith, Jr., who put Minnesota on the board with a 2-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. The tight end had another opportunity to score a few minutes later and unfortunately didn't execute. Cousins threw a beautiful deep ball down the left sideline to Smith, who initially appeared to secure the catch but couldn't hang on.
"We're going to come back to him. That's one of those things that happens when you play guys like Justin and Adam," O'Connell said. "Obviously when we have our offense in sync a lot of times, we're going to be able to get some good matchups for Irv, and if Justin is going to dictate coverage, Irv is going to get some opportunities. I'm excited about seeing him make some of those plays.
"Irv is going to have a heck of a year for us," O'Connell added. "He's in a good spot in our offense, would have loved to have seen him make that play, an unbelievable play by Kirk to get it in real time and put that ball out there."
The ensuing third-down pass fell incomplete, and the Vikings punted.
"He's such talented player and such a great guy, so I obviously feel for him, but the game didn't come down to that play," Thielen said of Smith. "We've all had a play like that that we can look back on in our career and pushed us a little more. I think he's going to be a huge factor in us winning football games moving forward."
Third downs were part of Minnesota's Achilles heel Monday, as the team went 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) on the evening.
Drops also became a problem.
Several Vikings players had chances to make plays but had the ball – and, ultimately, the game – slip through their fingers.
"We'll watch [the film], we'll have good conversations, there will be a lot of good coaching going on, and then we'll get right back to work and just try to fine-tune it," Cousins said.
Jefferson said the Eagles defense didn't pose anything surprising; the Vikings just didn't execute.
"I feel like they gave us some plays. They double-covered me sometimes, but I feel like the majority of the game, I was running routes on linebackers and nickels," said Jefferson, who finished with six catches for 48 yards. "I feel like it was there, we just – like I said – didn't execute."
View photos from the Vikings-Eagles Monday Night Football game on Sept. 19 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Minnesota now sits at 1-1 to start the season and has a short week to flip the page and bounce back against Detroit (1-1).
"We didn't come to play like we wanted to," Jefferson said. "Really, the best part is having a short week this week, having a short turnaround, and we can do it all over again and try to do better [against the Lions]."
Thielen shared similar sentiments of disappointment while also maintaining confidence in the team's resiliency.
"We have a leadership-driven organization right now, so looking forward to getting back to work and getting back in this building together," he said. "We're all in this together. We don't just talk about that in wins. We talk about that in losses, too.
"We've all got to look ourselves in the mirror and find a way to be a little bit better," Thielen added. "We've talked about it a lot: in this league, you've got to be ready to play every single week. It doesn't matter who you are playing. We've got a short week to go do that."