Kirk Cousins threw for 301 yards and one touchdown, Linval Joseph returned a fumble 64 yards for a score and the Minnesota Vikings beat the Eagles 23-21 Sunday in Philadelphia in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game.
Trying to rally from a 17-point deficit midway through the third quarter, the Eagles were set up to take the lead after Roc Thomas dropped a backward pass and Nigel Bradham recovered the fumble at the Vikings 30 in the fourth quarter. But Wentz was called for intentional grounding and coach Doug Pederson elected not to let Jake Elliott try a 58-yarder.
Dan Bailey, who missed two field goals earlier, nailed a 52-yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-14 with 2:47 left.
Wentz fired a 7-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz to cut it to 23-21 with 1:09 left but Adam Thielen recovered the onside kick.
The Vikings (2-2-1) got an excellent performance from Cousins, who completed 30 of 37 passes, to avoid falling further behind in the NFC North.
Joseph snatched Wentz’s fumble out of the air and rumbled the distance to give the Vikings a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. Stephen Weatherly knocked the ball loose and Wentz couldn’t recover to catch Joseph from behind after the strip-sack.
After a roughing penalty by Michael Bennett negated his sack, Cousins tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Thielen to extend the lead to 17-3 at halftime. Bennett hit Cousins in the upper thigh, held his legs before letting go and Cousins fell backward.
The Eagles finally got going on the opening drive of the third quarter, but Eric Kendricks forced Jay Ajayi to fumble at the Vikings 5 and recovered it. Cousins connected deep with Thielen for 68 yards on the next play and the Vikings reached the Eagles 2 before settling for Bailey’s 22-yard field goal.
Jake Elliott kicked a 30-yarder to tie it at 3-3 after Philadelphia wasted an opportunity inside the red zone. Shelton Gibson made a leaping 48-yard reception at the Vikings 17. But Wendell Smallwood dropped a pass on third-and-3 and the Eagles settled.
Down 20-3, the Eagles had a first down at the Vikings 15, but Wentz took a sack and they ended up kicking a field goal.
Wentz tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Wendell Smallwood, who benefited from the NFL‘s new catch rule because the ball came loose when he hit the ground. Smallwood then ran in for the 2-point conversion to get Philadelphia within 20-14.
Lions 31, Packers 23: The Detroit Lions took advantage of some mistakes they forced the Green Bay Packers to make and were fortunate some breaks simply went their way.
The Lions (2-3) earned a win it desperately needed under first-year coach Matt Patricia, going into its week off.
“We get two weeks to 10 days to sit on whatever happens,” said Stafford, who was 14 of 26 for 183 yards with two TDs and no turnovers. “And, it feels a whole lot better with a win.”
“We just couldn’t overcome all the things we did wrong,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We did some good things in the second half, but you can’t dig yourself that kind of hole.”
Crosby missed a career-high four field goals in one game and failed to make an extra point to boot. He connected on a field goal with 2 seconds left, but that wasn’t of much consolation after his poor performance.
“I look back and I’m thinking, in my childhood, in high school, this is definitely one of the worst ones,” said Crosby, the first NFL kicker to miss four field goals in a game since 2010.
Detroit recovered an onside kick to seal the win, preventing Rodgers from getting another chance at a game-winning Hail Mary in Detroit like the one he threw in 2015.
The Lions built a big lead in the first half, picking up where they left off in their last home game, a 16-point win over the New England Patriots.
Blount had a pair of 1-yard TD runs in the first quarter and Stafford’s 8-yard pass to Marvin Jones late in the second quarter put Detroit up 24-0.
Patricia, though, didn’t think the Lions’ cushion was comfortable.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen that quarterback on the other side there crush a lot of leads pretty quickly and come back,” said Patricia, a former Patriots defensive coordinator.
Stafford answered with a 5-yard TD pass to Kenny Golladay early in the fourth quarter to give Detroit a 31-14 lead.
“It was big to chew up some time to give our defense a little bit of a rest and come away with some points,” Stafford said.
Rodgers connected with Davante Adams on a 12-yard throw for a third TD pass, but Crosby hit the left upright on the extra point to let the Lions keep an 11-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Adams has scored in 10 straight road games, equaling a league record set by Tommy McDonald of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1959 to 1961.
Rodgers was 32 of 52 for 442 yards — the second-highest total of his career — with three TD passes.
“We’ve been a one-half team all year,” he said. “We need to do something about that.”