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Eagles’ Darius Slay gets upper hand over Vikings’ Justin Jefferson in ‘best-in-the-world’ battle

In the 24-7 win at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles star had two interceptions and helped hold Jefferson to six catches for just 48 yards.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay celebrates one of his two interceptions against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia.
Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports
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PHILADELPHIA – Justin Jefferson hasn’t been bashful about calling himself a top NFL wide receiver. Well, Darius Slay isn’t too shabby himself when it comes to cornerbacks.

Entering the Minnesota Vikings’ game on Monday Night Football at Philadelphia, Jefferson had talked about using it to “showcase the world what I have and my argument as being the best receiver.” He was coming off having nine catches for a career-high 184 yards in a resounding 23-7 win over Green Bay in the Sept. 11 opener.

As it turned out, Slay was the better performer Monday. In the 24-7 win at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles star had two interceptions and helped hold Jefferson to six catches for just 48 yards.

“He is one of the best in the world,’’ Slay said. “I am one of the best in the world, too. I was looking forward to the matchup.”

Jefferson gave Slay his props after the game, calling him a “great cornerback.” He didn’t deny that it was a tough defeat.

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“Of course, we (wanted) to come into this game and just dominate, especially after last week’s performance,’’ Jefferson said.

Instead, the Vikings (1-1) were humbled in their first road game of the season. But Jefferson plans to use “everything” from it as a teaching tool entering Sunday’s game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“The plays that were left out there, the routes that I could have won on, things that I could have done better,’’ Jefferson said.

Reagor’s impact

After not being in for a single snap from scrimmage in the opener against the Packers, Vikings receiver Jalen Reagor got in for 10 against his former team.

Reagor is still learning the offense after being acquired Aug. 31 from the Eagles. He made strides Monday, running for 17 yards on a reverse in the second quarter and catching a pass for seven yards in the fourth quarter.

“I’m just getting in the rhythm,” Reagor said. “Just doing what I can do. … It’s progressing every week. So it’s slowly but surely, but it’s getting there for sure.”

Reagor was booed each time he touched the ball Monday. He also had two punt returns for five yards.

Peterson’s block

Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson entered Monday confident about being able to block a kick, and he came through.

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In the third quarter, Peterson blocked a 41-yard field-goal attempt by Jake Elliott. Cornerback Kris Boyd scooped up the ball and ran 27 yards to the Eagles 30, but the Vikings were unable to score.

“I felt like I had a good shot all week on both sides (of the line),’’ Peterson said. “I felt I was getting some really good get-off.”’

Other than on that play, there were few bright spots Monday for Minnesota defensive backs. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 26 of 31 passes for 333 yards while finding receivers open with regularity.

“For the most part, we just have to be closer in coverage,’’ Peterson said.

Smith’s concussion

Vikings safety Harrison Smith suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter, and it remains to be seen what his status will be against the Lions.

vikings-mugs-Smith_Harrison.jpg

“Looking at the way he checked out, we feel pretty strongly about where (his recovery is) at,’’ said Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell. “But we’ll go through the phasing, and it’s very important that (it) gets handled medically through the protocol. It is a short week, so we’ll just kind of have to see where he’s at.”

Thielen’s lack of targets

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen wasn’t targeted until late in the third quarter and didn’t catch his first pass until early in the fourth quarter. He pointed the finger at himself for that.

“The first thing I do is go look myself in the mirror, go watch the film and see what I could have done better to get open,’’ Thielen said.

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vikings-mugs-Adam-Thielen.jpg
Adam Thielen

Thielen finished with four catches for 52 yards. His first target was on an interception thrown by Kirk Cousins with 2:19 left in the third quarter and his first catch came with 11:05 left in the game.

Evans replaces Dantzler

Rookie Akayleb Evans replaced Cameron Dantzler late in the game, but O’Connell said Dantzler is “still our starting cornerback.”

With the Vikings trailing 24-7, O’Connell said there was a desire to give Evans, a fourth-round pick, some reps. He played the final 21 snaps after Dantzler was in for the first 52.

“It was just a matter of getting a young player time,’’ O’Connell said. “We feel like he has earned the right to get on the field.”

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