Cousins, Diggs torch Eagles in 38-20 win as Vikings improve to 4-2

Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball for a 51-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images))

It’s almost hard to believe that since a Week 4 loss at Chicago, Minnesota Vikings teammates were apologizing to each other on Twin Cities radio and dealing with one of their star wide receivers not showing up for practice.

For the second straight week, the Vikings put together their closest semblance of complete team effort so far this season in a 38-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kirk Cousins completed 22 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those scores went to Stefon Diggs, who finished a career day with 167 receiving yards.

Diggs became the first Viking receiver since Randy Moss in 2000 to have two touchdowns of 50-plus yards in a single game. He’s also the first Viking receiver with a three-touchdown game since Marcus Robinson in 2005. More importantly, the Vikings won their second straight game and improved to 4-2 as they head to Detroit next weekend, still looking for their first NFC North Division victory in 2019.

“I think that’s probably the most exciting thing over the past two weeks is how they have been total team wins,” Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said.

For the third straight week, Cousins completed at least 20 passes. For the second straight week, he didn’t turn the ball over and led the Vikings to a victory. That's after Cousins threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 5 win over the New York Giants. The four touchdown passes ties a career-high, and the 38 points is a season-high for the Vikings.

Mike Zimmer is now 31-12 in Vikings’ home games. He's 20-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium, including 3-0 this season.

“I thought it was a really good win. We threw it 29 times, not 10, so everybody can be happy now,” Zimmer said, joking about their Week 1 win over Atlanta.

Cousins continues to prove his doubters that he can make plays in the passing game to get the ball down the field, and get the ball in the end zone. He had some bulletin board material to work with, even if he claims he didn’t know about it. He certainly played Sunday like he did.

Former teammate and current Eagles’ linebacker Zach Brown said Friday Cousins “is the weakest part of their offense.” Cousins finished the first half Sunday 12-of-17 passing for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

Zimmer said after the game “maybe that linebacker popped off and ticked him off.”

“Zach was teammate of mine in Washington, he’s one of the better linebackers I’ve played with or against, I have a lot of respect for him. If you’re trying to write a story about how it was a motivator this week, it wasn’t because I didn’t know about it,” Cousins said. “I’ll say ignorance is bliss. I just put my head down and work and prepare the same way every week.”

Whatever works for the Vikings’ $84 million man. His day started with a 6-yard touchdown throw to Thielen on a fade route that capped a 13-play, 75-yard opening drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock and gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

With a 10-3 lead in the second quarter, Cousins hit Diggs in stride down the middle of the field for a 62-yard touchdown. It gave the Vikings a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. The Vikings defense followed by forcing a punt, and Cousins hit Diggs two plays later on a 51-yard touchdown throw. Cousins had both Diggs and Bisi Johnson wide open on the play, and Diggs got the score for a 24-3 lead.

It was a fast start for Diggs, two weeks removed from being fined $200,000 by the team for missing practice, then not denying reports of trade rumors. Diggs has since said he wants to stay in Minnesota.

“I feel like I’m comfortable any week I go out there as far as like trying to play with confidence and do my job. It was no different, it was just opportunities come and I try to make plays,” Diggs said.

The game was far from over. The Eagles scored 17 straight points to cut the Vikings’ lead to 24-20. Carson Wentz hit Miles Sanders and Alshon Jeffery for touchdowns, and a Jake Elliott field goal got them right back in the game.

Cousins had the answer for the Vikings, driving the offense down the field in a variety of ways. He hit Diggs for his third touchdown of the day on an 11-yard throw where he tip-toed the end line while controlling the football for a 31-20 lead and crucial score.

“That was big. I’m sure there was a lot of doubt in the stadium because they were a very explosive team,” Zimmer said of the Eagles’ comeback attempt.

The Vikings delivered the knockout blow after Mackensie Alexander and Eric Kendricks combined for a sack on Wentz, forcing an Eagles punt. The Vikings took the ensuing possession 88 yards, capped by Dalvin Cook’s 1-yard touchdown and 38-20 lead.

The Vikings sacked Wentz four times on Sunday and limited running back Jordan Howard to 49 yards on 13 carries. Anthony Barr had 10 tackles, eight solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery. Kendricks added nine tackles, a half sack and two passed defended. Alexander and Danielle Hunter added sacks in the win, and Alexander added a late interception.

The Vikings also had success in the run game against the league’s No. 1 rush defense, finishing with 122 yards and averaging 3.5 yards per carry. But the day was about Cousins and Diggs, who combined for 167 of the team’s 325 passing yards in the win.

“He’s a guy that we trust every week is going to give us his all and he’s going to keep getting better. He’s going to prove that he’s a top quarterback in this league and he can play at a high level. You saw that today,” Thielen said.

Cousins doesn’t care who gets the targets, the yards or the scores. He cares about winning.

“I don’t really care who gets going. I just want to win. The way it went today with the plays that were called it was to give him (Diggs) opportunities. At the same time, you go where coverage takes you,” Cousins said.

He even lamented missing Diggs on a post near the end of the first half that would’ve gone for a touchdown.

“I thought about apologizing to him but apparently that’s not the way to go around here. I guess my days of apologizing are over,” Cousins said.

There’s no need to apologize after 333 yards and four touchdowns.