Relentless Eagles rushing attack lays waste to Vikings defense

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS

PHILADELPHIA – The Vikings defense joined some poor company in franchise history on Thursday night when Eagles running back D'Andre Swift ran for 175 of Philadelphia's 259 rushing yards — the most against Minnesota since Christmas Day 2020.

That's when Saints running back Alvin Kamara tied the NFL record with six rushing touchdowns against the Vikings at the Superdome. New Orleans put up 264 rushing yards in that Vikings loss.

"If you don't stop the run, you're not going to be successful," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "We did a lot of good things. This is the second week I'm saying we did a lot of good things, but there's some obvious things we have to clean up — the rushing part being number one.

The Eagles' rushing attack, which led the NFL with 32 touchdowns last season, had three rushing touchdowns on Thursday night in a 34-28 victory.

Dynamic quarterback Jalen Hurts willed his way into the end zone with two 1-yard plunges — including one that capped a 16-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter. Hurts finished with 12 carries for 35 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

The Vikings defense was on the field too long and crumbled under the weight of a prolific Eagles offense and their own offense's blunders. The Vikings lost four fumbles, including three on offense.

"They did a good job early on," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said of his defense. "They gave Philly some different looks, played a different structure of defense to try to help in any way we could against the zone read and all the plays off of it. They were just [on] short fields and having to overcome and were eventually put in too many tough spots."

Attention on the Eagles running game affected the Vikings' ability to cover the long ball, O'Connell said. Hurts hit a 54-yard pass to receiver DeVonta Smith, who later caught a 63-yard touchdown pass past cornerback Akayleb Evans.

"That's going to happen when you're trying to defend so many aspects of the run game and pressure looks," O'Connell said. "With the turnover margin being what it was, they were just on the field too much."

The Vikings defensive front struggled to break through the Eagles offensive line. Minnesota had only two tackles for losses on 48 rushing attempts by Philadelphia. But edge rusher Danielle Hunter said takeaways also need to be a focus.

"We can do our part better by securing the ball," said Hunter, who had three sacks. "I think that's one thing we're going to work on this week — offense and defense."

A couple of quarterback Kirk Cousins' four touchdown throws helped form a late surge, but Swift's 4-yard touchdown run with four minutes left put the game out of reach.

"In the past two games we've only lost by a total of nine and the turnover margin is 7-1, so we're right in these games," Hicks said. "It's just a matter of taking care of the ball and getting the ball out."