Good morning, Eagles fans! Yes, the Eagles lost to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday 38-20 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The good news, though, is that by virtue of Dallas' loss to the New York Jets next week's prime-time showdown against the Cowboys is for first place in the NFC East with both teams at 3-3. But before we get Dallas Week rolling, let's look back at what happened against the Vikings in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft. Make sure to join us at noon for head coach Doug Pederson's day-after press conference.
1. Miles Sanders a big-play weapon in passing game
The Eagles knew that rookie running back Miles Sanders was a playmaker and that even early in his career he would be ready to contribute to the offense. What they may not have known is that his pass-catching skills, combined with sharp route running, would make him an instant weapon the passing game. Sanders caught three passes for 86 yards on Sunday, including a 32-yard touchdown – his first in the NFL – and added a 45-yard catch-and-run to set up another touchdown.
"I've been working hard on being better in the receiving game and I think that when defenses look around, they see all these weapons and maybe I get some good matchups," said Sanders, who has 13 receptions for 133 yards this season. "I want Carson (Wentz) to trust me and I want to make big plays for the offense anytime I have the ball."
Sanders has been doing that a bunch lately. He had a 36-yard reception in the win over the Jets last Sunday. In the victory at Lambeau Field in Week 4, Sanders had 11 carries for 72 yards, including a 30-yard gain, and helped turn the game around with a 67-yard kickoff return. In the loss against Detroit, Sanders made gains of 33 yards and 40 yards receiving, along with 53 rushing yards on 13 carries (he also fumbled twice, losing one).
The running game didn't have much success in Minnesota as Sanders (three carries, 6 yards) and Jordan Howard (13 carries, 49 yards) were largely stuffed or held to short gains.
"It's something we have to work on. We want to be consistent and productive," Sanders said. "Today was frustrating. We just didn't get it done on offense the way we want. We have to correct our mistakes and come back strong in Dallas."
2. An afternoon to forget for Eagles in Minnesota in 38-20 loss
The game was all Minnesota's right from the start as the Vikings drove 75 yards on 13 plays, consuming more than seven minutes off the clock. That drive served as a template for what the Vikings wanted to do against Jim Schwartz's defense. Running back Dalvin Cook had a couple of rushing attempts in Minnesota's stretch game, testing the edges of the Eagles defense. Quarterback Kirk Cousins got the ball out of his hands quickly and put cornerback Sidney Jones on an island, forcing him to make tackles in the open field. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro gives his evaluation of the game here.
"We need to start better. We need to get off the field. The deep passes, the big plays, that's what is really hurting us," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It's one of those situations where we started slow and then corrected some things, and then they made some plays against us to put it away. It was a tough one. We didn't play our defense. We didn't play well at all and that's very disappointing."
3. Zach Brown reflects on the loss and comments he made about Kirk Cousins
The linebacker recorded five tackles against the Vikings on Sunday afternoon. After the game, he addressed the outcome and what the team was unable to do.
"At the end of the day we have to do our job," Brown said. "Hats off to them, they got the best of us today. At the end of the day, we have to do our job on both sides of the football. They got the win today, but you never know we may end up seeing them again."
On Friday, Brown called quarterback Kirk Cousins the "weakest part" of Minnesota's offense. During post-game media availability, he refused to address the previous remark and only commented on the quarterback's performance.
"He did a great job," Brown said about Cousins. "Hats off to him."
4. Big plays thwart defense's effort against the run
The Eagles made stopping running back Dalvin Cook, who entered the game second in the league in both rushing and all-purpose yards, the top priority.
Yes, the Eagles surrendered over 100 rushing yards to an opponent for the first time this season, but Cook was held to 41 yards on 16 carries (a 2.6 yards per carry average). Cook scored a touchdown, but it was in the fourth quarter with the game at hand. In fact, rookie Alexander Mattison did the most damage on the ground with 63 yards on 14 carries, but 35 of his yards came on one run.
The issue for the Eagles' defense was big plays. The focus on stopping the run game made the Vikings' play-action passing game deadly as quarterback Kirk Cousins was 22-of-29 for 333 yards with four touchdowns against one interception (a ball that clanged off wide receiver Stefon Diggs' facemask) for a 138.4 QB rating. Including his time in Washington, Cousins in 6-3 against the Eagles with 21 touchdowns against six interceptions. He's completed 67 percent of his pass attempts when facing Philadelphia.
Two of the four touchdowns were on consecutive offense plays for the Vikings, as Cousins connected with Diggs for a 62-yard score then a 51-yard strike in the second quarter. On both plays, cornerback Rasul Douglas was in coverage, but there were breakdowns in the secondary helping leave Diggs open. Diggs had a career day with seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns.
"We had a couple blown coverages. One of them was my fault, so I take the heat for that," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "They do a good job of balancing the run and play-action, which we knew coming in."
Jenkins said that this defense needs to find its identity after last week's historic 10-sack outing against the Jets that featured two defensive touchdowns.
"I mean what you saw last week was something you could go three seasons without seeing a game like that," Jenkins said. "I don't think we look at last week as the benchmark of who we are, but I do think we need to play more consistently and find out who we are. With injuries every week it is hard to find out who you really are on defense. The biggest thing is having guys like myself and guys who make plays have to do their job every time."
5. Carson Wentz addresses the slow start and what this offense needs to do to be successful
After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles' offense fell victim to another slow start. The Eagles responded well, at first, by putting up 17 unanswered points, but ultimately could not counteract the early-game deficit as Minnesota led 24-3 in the second quarter. At the helm of the offense, quarterback Carson Wentz knows the importance of setting the tone early.
"Slow start, we're down and we have to make some plays and we do. We just didn't make enough," Wentz said. "Offensively, we didn't make enough (plays). We have to stay on the field better. We have to put ourselves in better situations and just execute at a higher level."
Wentz finished 26-of-40 for 306 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a 94.4 QB rating. The offense managed to get into favorable third-down situations throughout the game against Minnesota's aggressive scheme. However, the Eagles converted just 33 percent (four-of-12) of their third-down attempts.
6. Sidney Jones remains confident after another tough outing
Sidney Jones is keeping his chin up. He has no choice as the third-year cornerback continues to work to find his stride at cornerback within the Eagles' defense. Jones had a tough day on Sunday, missing tackles in the open field, getting beat in coverage, and committing a pass-interference penalty and a defensive holding penalty in the 38-20 loss to the Vikings.
"I have to be sharp, more detailed," said Jones, who said he is recovered from the hamstring injury that sidelined him against the Jets. "I feel like I have to get out there and know what I have to do and go from there."
When asked if his confidence was any issue, Jones simply said, "No."
The second-round selection from the 2017 NFL Draft has not found his footing in the league, missing all but the final game of his rookie season as he recovered from an Achilles tendon injury and struggling last year with a hamstring injury. Jones has been a starter in 2019, but he hasn't found the form the Eagles expected.
He's going to just keep working at it.
"Work, doing the little things, detailing my work," Jones said. "I feel like I'm there. I just have to go out and do it."
7. Game Recap: Eagles fall to Vikings, 38-20
The Eagles came out slow and weren't able to pick up the pace to overpower the Vikings. The offense, defense, and special teams had their fair share of mistakes that the Vikings capitalized on. In this edition of the Game Recap, Chris McPherson provides an in-depth review of the matchup breaking down the biggest plays. Check out the full course of action here.
Quarterback Carson Wentz was 26-of-40 for 306 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a 94.4 QB rating. Running back Miles Sanders hauled in his first NFL touchdown on a wheel route, beating linebacker Eric Kendricks for a 32-yard score. Sanders added a 45-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter to set up Wentz's second touchdown throw, this one of Alshon Jeffery. The 3-yard strike made it 24-17 Vikings.
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' clash against the Vikings.
8. Notes and numbers behind the Eagles defeat in Minneapolis
• Miles Sanders helped the Eagles cut the deficit to 24-10 in the second quarter when he caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz. Sanders has registered a 30-plus-yard play from scrimmage in four consecutive games. In that span, he has posted a total of six 30-plus-yard plays (five receiving, one rushing). His five 30-plus-yard receptions are the most by an NFL rookie RB through six games since at least 1991.
• Alshon Jeffery, who led the wide receivers with 62 snaps, caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz on the Eagles' opening drive of the third quarter. Jeffery leads all active NFL players with eight career receiving touchdowns vs. Minnesota. Jeffery also logged a season-long 26-yard reception during Philadelphia's second drive of the third quarter. Since 2017, Jeffery has produced the most receiving TDs (18) among Eagles players.
• Jake Elliott connected on a season-long 53-yard FG in the second quarter. He also nailed a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter. His 53-yarder marked his ninth career 50-plus-yard.
• Tackle Andre Dillard played 47 snaps with Jason Peters sidelined by a knee injury. The rest of the offensive line played all 65 snaps.
• Tight ends Zach Ertz (52 snaps) and Dallas Goedert (46) combined for 98 snaps. They had nine catches for 102 yards.
• Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod played all 71 snaps on defense. Nathan Gerry, who moved to middle linebacker after Nigel Bradham's ankle injury, played 62 snaps. Derek Barnett led the defensive line with 57 snaps on Sunday.