It might not have been the Conference Championship Game, but you know. . .it still feels pretty nice.
After the teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter, the Vikings were the first team to find the end zone, and it came courtesy of the defense. Stephen Weatherly sliced through the Philadelphia line and hit Carson Wentz, who had the ball flutter out of his hands and into the waiting arms of defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph did the rest, as he rumbled 64 yards for a touchdown, with Dan Bailey’s extra point putting the Vikings up by a score of 10-3.
The Vikings’ offense got into the act at the end of the first half, as Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 3-yard touchdown pass just before the break. That made the score 17-3 in favor of the Vikings, and things were going well for the Vikings in the early going.
Each team put up a field goal in the third quarter, and the Vikings took a 20-6 lead into the final quarter of play. The Eagles struck back in the early stages of the fourth quarter, as Wentz found running back Wendell Smallwood for a 12-yard score, and then Smallwood converted a 2-point run to cut the deficit to 20-14 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
The Vikings then made a costly mistake, as an attempted screen pass from Cousins to Roc Thomas wound up being a backward pass that was fumbled by Thomas, with the Eagles recovering the loose ball. An intentional grounding penalty on Wentz helped to derail the Eagles’ drive, and the lead remained 20-14 with just over nine minutes remaining.
Minnesota then put together a solid drive, and pushed into Philadelphia territory to set up a 52-yard field goal attempt for Bailey. Bailey, who had missed two field goals earlier in the game, split the uprights and gave the Vikings back a two-score lead at 23-14.
The Eagles then answered with a big drive of their own, as the Vikings allowed a lot of cushion on defense and Philadelphia took advantage. Wentz hit Zach Ertz in the back left corner of the end zone, and with the extra point from Jake Elliott the score went to 23-21.
There was a bit of a scare at the end of the game, as the Eagles attempted an onside kick and it appeared to bounce off of the hands of Adam Thielen, but he jumped back on it and, because the Eagles had no timeouts remaining, the Vikings were able to just kneel out the clock.
Kirk Cousins had yet another brilliant performance for the Vikings, completing completing 30-of-37 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings’ receivers, as you’d expect, had big games as well, particularly Adam Thielen. Thielen hauled in seven catches for 116 yards and a score, and became the first receiver since the AFL/NFL merger to begin a season with five consecutive 100-yard performances. Stefon Diggs chipped in with ten catches for 91 yards.
The Vikings even their season record at 2-2-1, and next week return to U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles fall to 2-3 on the season, and will have a short week as they travel to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.
The Minnesota Vikings even their record with a big victory over the Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 23-21. We’ll have more on this game over the next day or two, and we appreciate all of you that got your coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!