Quite the statement for the Minnesota Vikings in a game they had to win. Kirk Cousins responded to Zach Brown's criticism by throwing for four touchdowns, three to Stefon Diggs, as the Vikings had over 400 total yards of offense in a dominant 38-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday.
Cousins had the deep ball working to Diggs throughout the game, connecting with him on touchdown passes of 62 and 51 yards in the second quarter to give the Vikings a commanding lead they would never relinquish. Diggs beat Rasul Douglas on back-to-back deep post routes, walking into the end zone after gaining more than five yards of separation. Cousins' final touchdown pass to Diggs was an 11-yard pass where Diggs got both feet in bounds in the back of the end zone to end a string of 17 consecutive points by the Eagles.
Philadelphia trailed 24-3 with 9:31 remaining in the second quarter, but got the game to within four thanks to a Jake Elliott 40-yard field goal with 6:19 left in the third quarter. Cousins and the Vikings offense responded with back-to-back touchdown drives to put the game out of reach.
Cousins finished 22 of 29 for 333 yards with four touchdowns and an interception for a 138.4 rating. He had his second four-touchdown game with the Vikings and his first of the season (the other came in Week 2 of the 2018 season). Diggs had seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, the first Vikings player to catch three touchdowns in a game since Marcus Robinson in 2005.
Carson Wentz finished 26 of 40 for 306 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, which came when the game was out of hand. Miles Sanders had three catches for 86 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles finished with 400 yards of offense.
Why the Vikings won
The Vikings had their way with the Eagles' secondary all afternoon, as Kirk Cousins answered the challenge presented to him from former teammate and current Eagles linebacker Zach Brown. Cousins threw four touchdown passes, two of which went over 50 yards to Stefon Diggs -- who had three touchdown catches of his own. The Vikings challenged Sidney Jones early, as Adam Thielen beat him on a double move for the first score of the game. After picking on Jones, the attention turned to Douglas as he just didn't have the long speed to keep up with Diggs. Dalvin Cook was held to just 16 carries for 41 yards, but Cousins took control of the game with just seven incompletions. Minnesota was just 2 of 10 on third down, but it didn't matter as the deep ball was on point enough for the Vikings to take command of the game.
Why the Eagles lost
There were plenty of reasons the Eagles lost this game, but let's focus on how poor the defense was in the contest. The Eagles defense put the offense in a 24-3 hole by allowing the Vikings to score on their first four possessions. Minnesota started the game with 25 plays for 226 yards, averaging nine yards per play. The Eagles cornerbacks were torched on the deep ball by Cousins as the Vikings had a stretch with three plays for 126 yards and two touchdowns, which created the 21-point lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Philadelphia did force two takeaways, but one was when the game was out of hand. The Eagles finished with one sack and allowed 38 points and 447 yards to the Vikings. Teams aren't going to win games in the NFL with those stats, especially with an offense that is plagued with dropped passes and poor route running. The Eagles can't win track meets and high-scoring affairs at this stage in the season.
The Eagles scored 17 unanswered points to get the score within 24-20 midway through the third quarter, but the Vikings answered with a nine play, 75-yard drive that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown by Diggs.
Minnesota went back to its bread and butter in this one, with Cousins completing back-to-back passes to Diggs to start the drive that went for 21 yards. He then completed a 16-yard pass to Olabisi Johnson (though he appeared he to trap the catch) before going back to Diggs for eight yards. Cousins was 6 of 6 for 66 yards and a touchdown on the drive, setting the stage for the Viking's victory as Minnesota took a 31-20 lead with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
Play of the game
The Vikings had plenty of impressive plays in this one, but Cousins' 62-yard touchdown pass to Diggs was a thing of beauty. Diggs ran an X-post deep in the middle of the field and had about two steps on Rasul Douglas before making the catch. He was open enough that he could turn his head as he jogged into the end zone to give Minnesota a 17-3 lead with 11:47 left in the second quarter.
The throw, which was on the money by Cousins, was his longest pass play of the season and the third longest pass of his Vikings career. The catch was also the longest of the year for Diggs, who entered the game with no catches over 50 yards and just three catches over 30 yards.
"I don't know. Maybe that linebacker that popped off ticked him off? So he beat Philadelphia last year, I don't know if they had a winning record at the time, but they had a winning record at the end of the season so you know, these stats that everybody's throwing out is just ... There's a lot of football left and we just played one (team with a winning record) on the schedule. - Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer on Kirk Cousins beating a team with a winning record
Cousins has just six wins in his career against teams with a winning record heading into the game, but responded to Eagles linebacker Zach Brown saying "the weakest part of their offense is him." Four touchdowns in a win should keep Brown, his former teammate in Washington, quiet for a while.
The Eagles (3-3) continue their three-game road trip against the Dallas Cowboys on "Sunday Night Football" next week in a battle for NFC East supremacy. The Vikings (4-2) play their third road game in four weeks as they face the Detroit Lions next Sunday.
For a further recap on this game, take a look at our live blog below:
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