As we learned on Sunday, in at least three different games, a 17-point lead after 30 minutes of football isn’t safe. And so the Vikings, down 24-7 through two quarters of football, had a full and fair chance to try to turn things around in Philadelphia.
Minnesota came out fast and furious in the third quarter, shifting into a no-huddle offense and moving the ball right down the field. Then came second and 10 from the Philadelphia 19. Receiver Justin Jefferson ran a post, cornerback Darius Slay squatted at the top of the route, and Jefferson didn’t try to run in front of Slay (cross the face, in football jargon) but went behind him.
Slay made the interception of the Kirk Cousins pass, killing the drive and taking much of the remaining air out of the Minnesota balloon.
ESPN’s Troy Aikman put the blame on Jefferson for not cutting in front of Slay. After the game, Jefferson took the blame.
“That’s honestly on me,” Jefferson told reporters. “I’ll take that one. I’ve got to be flatter if Slay’s going to sit on that type of route. I’ve got to come flatter and be in front of [Slay] instead of going behind him. So, that one’s on me.”
Cousins basically said the same thing, in more concise fashion.
“I was just hoping he was going to come flat there and so that was really what happened,” Cousins told reporters.
If Jefferson had finished the route by running at Slay, Jefferson could have made the catch — or possibly drawn a penatly. The outcome isn’t certain, but the chances of an interception would have been significantly diminished.
After the pick, the Eagles were able to chew more than six minutes of clock time, and a blocked field goal ended up being a non-issue after Cousins threw his second interception in Eagles territory. That one pretty much ended the game. Even though more than a quarter remained, it felt as if the Vikings wouldn’t score 17 more points if they played another full 60 minutes following that second interception.