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September 14, 2023

Final observations: Eagles 34, Vikings 28

Behind huge performances from DeVonta Smith, D'Andre Swift and a fierce defensive line, the Eagles sunk the Vikings' ship.

Eagles NFL
0117_09142023_Eagles_Vikings_Eagles-Jalen-Hurts-huddle.jpg Kate Frese/Kate Frese for PhillyVoice

Jalen Hurts had some serious highs and lows Thursday night.

The Eagles pulled off a Thursday Night Football win in South Philly, taking down the Vikings 34-28 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Enjoy relaxing all weekend after this, Birds fans. Here are my second-half observations from the Eagles' victory (and you can find my halftime ones here)...

The Highs

• Why does Kirk Cousins have his reputation as a guy who comes up short under the bright lights? He turns the ball over too much. On the second play of the third quarter, Josh Sweat sacked and stripped Cousins with Fletcher Cox recovering and putting the Eagles in goal-to-go territory. This isn't true locally, but, amongst the national media, Sweat still feels a little underrated given the presence of Cox, Haason Reddick and the team's blue-chip defensive tackles. The fumble set up an easy-as-anything Eagles rushing TD. The complexion of the game entirely switched after this sequence. 

• Cox is playing better than he ever has in the post-Jim Schwartz era. This level is the closest he's come as of late to his 2018 peak. This defensive line is damn good and, more importantly in a football world ravished with injuries, deep. 

• The Jalen Hurts Tush Push? Like Charizard using Flamethrower against Bulbasaur, it's super effective. 

• Hurts uncorked his best throw of this young season in the third quarter. Much like he did in the first half, Hurts targeted DeVonta Smith deep down the field. The difference is that Hurts hit Smith perfectly in stride so that Smith could trot into the end zone. Smith's 131 receiving yards are the second most he's ever had in a single game in his career. He glides out there. 

• Zach Cunningham is being thrust into a bigger role with Nakobe Dean out for the next month or so with a foot injury. He was frisky in the second half, coming up with a couple of nice solo tackles, including a TFL. Any sign of life from this linebacker group will gladly be taken.

• The coaching staff shouldn't give Kenny Gainwell his starting running back role back when he returns from injury. D'Andre Swift has stolen it. The Eagles' offense had a 2021 tinge to it with how much they were feeding their top RB on the night. To put it in perspective, Swift's 28 carries were more than Miles Sanders had in any game in 2022. They were feeding the dude! Swift crushed it, finishing with 175 total rushing yards, a career high, while averaging a whopping 6.3 yards per pop. In case you forgot, this offensive line is absolutely dominant in the run game, too.

The Lows

• In his first start as a second-year undrafted player, Josh Jobe was obviously going to go through some growing pains. That came in the form of Vikings wideout Jordan Addison burning him for a 62-yard TD in the third quarter. James Bradberry is currently going through concussion protocol. That long break before the Eagles' Week 3 Monday Night Football matchup with the Buccaneers can't come quick enough for an Eagles team that's already banged up.

• It turns out that missing three back-seven players can deplete your pass defense! Cousins' stats were stout, tossing 364 yards on 8.5 yards per attempt and four TDs. That aforementioned turnover is what dug Minnesota's grave though.

• Hurts' pocket presence has been a bit erratic. The Vikings sacked him four times, and he didn't see the whole field on one play when he had A.J. Brown open deed for a TD. Brown let him know about it on the sideline:

The Eagles did throw the ball Brown's way in the hopes of a touchdown after that, but a horrendously missed pass interference call that I discuss below wiped out any chance of that. 

The Whoas

• I'm not sure if it'll stick all season or if it's a one-off move, but I'm down with Linkin Park as the Linc's post-third quarter, pre-fourth quarter music. 

• "REF-YOU-SUCK!" chants warm my heart, like hearing an old friend tell a great story for the umpteenth time. The no-call pass interference on Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans against A.J. Brown was egregious.

• I love when the Eagles play on Thursdays and Mondays because I get to sit on my ass and watch Red Zone for seven hours on Sunday. I get to do that each of the next two Sundays stress free while laughing at the misery of other teams.

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