Why the Vikings Loss at PHI Felt Different

Vikings
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) is upended by Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings enthusiasts had high hopes after beating the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 that the team could take care of business or at least remain competitive against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.

That hypothesis was outlandishly wrong, as the Vikings looked inept on Monday Night Football, losing to Jalen Hurts and friends by a score of 24-7.

While Vikings fans are indeed a cynical breed with plenty of experience watching futility on Monday nights, there was some shock involved in the team’s loss to Philadelphia. It felt different and not in a good way.

Jalen Hurts Did Something to Vikings That's Never Happened Before
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s why: The Vikings loss to the Eagles was the first time since Christmas day of 2020 that the team lost by more than eight points with Kirk Cousins at quarterback. During Mike Zimmer’s final season, onlookers of the Vikings grew accustomed — for better or worse — to close games. Every single loss with Cousins at QB1 in 2021 was decided by one score or less.

It took 633 days for the Vikings to get beaten handily with Cousins at quarterback — plain and simple. Of course, the stat doesn’t make the loss in Philadelphia less nauseating, but it does explain why the vibe was markedly different. When the Vikings lost in 2021, it wasn’t via beatdown if Cousins on the field.

'Primetime Kirk' Cousins Reared Its Head
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

And the loss to the New Orleans Saints on December 25th, 2020, actually felt eerily similar to the mini-debacle in Philadelphia. The Vikings defense was comical in both games, and the offense couldn’t keep pace. Although, in the Christmas 2020 game, Minnesota’s offense did play better than it did against the Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Moreover, the Vikings tied the NFL record in 2021 for games decided by eight or fewer points. There were 14 such games last year. None have occurred yet in 2022. You’re used to squeakers — and you’re not getting them so far inside the Kevin O’Connell era. To be sure, when the Vikings win by more than eight points, nobody cares about the close-game statistic. However, losing is like a bad poker beat of which the card player doesn’t forget.

From 2020 to 2021, the Vikings led the league in games decided by eight or fewer points — 24 of them. That’s 73%. To date, in 2022, both games have been lopsided.

Change, indeed.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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