Breaking News
More () »

Vikings look to bounce back Thursday night against Eagles

Thursday's game in Philly will be the second straight year the two teams meet in primetime, and much like Sunday's game, turnovers helped determine the outcome.
Credit: AP
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) runs a pass route against Darius Slay during a game last year against the Philadelphia Eagles.

EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings couldn't seem to get out of their own way on Sunday, and in one case, it wasn't just a figure of speech.

The Vikings offense was marching down the field on their second drive of the game when a pulling Ed Ingram knocked the ball from quarterback Kirk Cousins' hands. The ball fell to the turf and eventually into the hands of Buccaneers linebacker Joe Tyron-Shoyinka.

"Kind of a freak deal," said Cousins on Tuesday at TCO Performance Center. "We had just changed centers, so that was one variable that got thrown in, and just reversing out, his hand as he was reaching just happened to hit the ball and it came out."

It was the first of three turnovers in the game for the Vikings, who went on to lose just their second home opener since U.S. Bank Stadium opened back in 2016.

"Turnover margin will always be a critical stat when it comes to winning football games," Cousins said. "We lost the turnover margin badly."

Coaches at all levels preach it, all players have heard it and most fans have witnessed it. The difference between winning and losing can often come down to turnovers. While it can seem obvious and trite, it’s a cliché for a reason.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, teams that win the turnover battle come out on top about 70% of the time. As one would expect, that percentage increases the larger the turnover margin a team has over its opponent.  

On Sunday, Tampa Bay forced three more turnovers than Minnesota, which, according to the study, results in a win 90.7% of the time.

"A lot of self-inflicted things that negatively affected our team (Sunday) that if we can at least get those cleaned up, (we can) go into a really tough challenge on Thursday night with clean plans and have a little bit better overall execution," said Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell during Monday's press conference.

That "tough challenge" comes in the form of the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, who opened the season with a 25-20 win Sunday over the New England Patriots. The Eagles return a strong core from last year's team and remain one of the top contenders in the NFC, which doesn't bode well for a team looking to rebound from a disappointing season opener.

"This is one of the best defenses in football," O'Connell said. "One of the best (defensive) fronts — if not the best — in the league right now. ... There's always gonna be some things where a team can get you, especially in the opener or before things have really been put on tape yet based upon game plan and maybe something they've done in the past ... but we've got to find ways to survive those downs and not turn the football over."

Thursday's game in Philadelphia will be the second straight year the two teams have met in primetime and much like Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, turnovers helped determine the outcome. Cousins was intercepted three times as the Eagles cruised to a 24-7 victory. 

"Having the loss last year, not having those plays that we wanted last year, there's definitely some teaching going into the game," said Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson.

Jefferson was uncharacteristically held in check for much of that night in Philadelphia going against cornerback Darius Slay. The NFL's Offensive Player of the Year did have six catches but only amassed 48 receiving yards in the loss.

"It's always going to be a great battle," said Jefferson of going against Slay, which will be a likely matchup again on Thursday night. "With the top corners in the league, I'm always excited to have those types of matchups."

Jefferson had no problems getting open against the Buccaneers' corners on Sunday as he racked up 150 yards on nine catches. Rookie receiver Jordan Addison was another bright spot in Sunday's loss as he found the end zone for his first career touchdown. 

"He's a great receiver," said Jefferson of Addison. "He has the ability to run great routes and he has the ability to make those big plays when they come."

Addison also gained the attention of former Vikings receiver Jake Reed, who was part of the Three Deep receiving corps from 1998 that included Randy Moss and Cris Carter. Reed responded to a video post by the team comparing the original Three Deep to this year's top three receivers — Jefferson, Addison and K.J. Osborn — with a reply saying, "I see you Three Deep 2.0!"

This season's wide receiver trio combined for 242 of the Vikings' 369 total offensive yards, but they've got a ways to go if they're going to match one of the most explosive offenses in the history of the league. While that high-flying offense played a big part in the '98 Vikings going 15-1 and reaching the NFC Championship, so did their plus-14 turnover margin.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out