As far as the Vikings are concerned, the scenes from sideline in Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a thing of the past.
Never mind that a camera caught Kirk Cousins screaming at quarterbacks coach Chris O’Hara after throwing a costly interception before halftime. Never mind that a camera also caught Justin Jefferson stewing on the bench by himself after the final seconds ticked off the game clock.
Asked about those snapshot moments, Cousins explained it as his passion coming out in the heat of battle, while Jefferson chalked it up to his competitive fire manifesting itself in real time.
“I hate losing,” Jefferson said. “That’s not the way we wanted to come out.”
Not that Jefferson plans on hanging his head for an extended period of time.
“You don’t want to focus on the L’s too long,” Jefferson said. “You have to move on to the next week.”
Though it’s an extremely short and difficult turnaround, the Vikings agree that Thursday’s primetime game against the Eagles in Philadelphia is the perfect way to start feeling good about themselves ago. There isn’t any time for the Vikings to sulk after a disappointing start to this season. Not when they are traveling to play a team that was in last season’s Super Bowl.
Things didn’t go too well for the Vikings last season when they played the Eagles on the road. They suffered a 24-7 loss, with the offense unable to move the ball for prolonged stretches throughout the game.
The fact that the rematch is once again being played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia only adds to the excitement for the Vikings. As difficult a place as it is to play — perhaps the toughest in the NFL — there is something about it that can bring out the best in players.
“It really brings a team together being in a hostile environment like that,” Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson said. “I think we’re all looking forward to it.”
Anybody who has played a road game in Philadelphia has his own story about the crowd. It’s more or less a rite of passage in the NFL. As a rookie with the Detroit Lions, for example, Hockenson remembers fans throwing stuff at them as the Lions players walked out of the tunnel for the game.
“Those guys are nuts,” Hockenson said with a laugh. “The passion is real.”
The opportunity to silence a home crowd is something Jefferson has lived for since his college days. He has vivid memories of No. 2 LSU beating No. 3 Alabama on the road, and while he hasn’t experienced the Vikings beating the Eagles on the road quite yet, he wants to make it happen.
“It’s definitely a confidence-booster going into the game,” Jefferson said. “As long as we come in there with the energy, and execute our plays, I feel like we’ll be in great position.”
The key for the Vikings this week, as simple as it sounds, will be scoring more points. They managed to move the ball against the Buccaneers at times, only to turn it over or stall out short of the end zone. They need to finish those drives against the Eagles or else they might be in trouble.
“That is really where my focus is,” Cousins said. “Can we go out there on Thursday night and really just execute with precision from the first snap to the last snap?”
If the Vikings are able to do that, the scenes on the sideline will be much different than last week.