Parise scores winner, Wild beat Canadiens 4-3 for 2nd win

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Wild called a players-only meeting as they struggled to start the season. In their first game since that meeting, the Wild earned a win and gained a sense of relief.
Zach Parise scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period and the Wild won their second game of the season, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Sunday.
“It’s been a tough start for everybody,” Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I love seeing the emotion on the faces, especially when it’s good emotion.”
Jason Zucker, Marcus Foligno and Brad Hunt also scored for Minnesota, which matched its highest goal total through eight games this season. The Wild also scored four goals in a 7-4 home loss to Pittsburgh.
Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves and earned his first win of the season.
Phillip Danault scored twice and Tomas Tatar added a goal for the Canadiens. Keith Kinkaid stopped 29 shots in his second game of the season.
Parise took a perfect pass from Zucker through traffic and sent a shot that beat Kinkaid and gave the Wild a 4-3 lead. The score came just over four minutes after Hunt tied the game on the power play.
“It was a really good play,” Parise said. “A lot of times it’s gotta start from your own end with a couple of good plays out of your zone and that’s how that one started.”
The teams squared off for the second time in a four-day span. The host Canadiens won the previous meeting 4-0.
Montreal couldn’t hold on to two one-goal leads in Sunday’s game.
“It kind of just came down to them finding a way to put one more in the net than we did in the third period, and they get two points,” Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher said. “We’ve got to go home and obviously correct that.”
Foligno scored with just 12.9 seconds left in the second period to tie the game. Danault’s second goal of the game in the third gave Montreal a short-lived lead before goals by Hunt and Parise put Minnesota ahead for good.
Zucker opened the game with a first-period goal in the team’s first game since the player included head coach Bruce Boudreau in a controversial quote, saying everyone on the team needed to be better. Zucker redirected a shot from the point on the power play at 8:57.
All three of Zucker’s goals this season have come on the power play.
“We have a lot of work left but I think this stuff can help,” Foligno said. “A win like tonight and the way we did it can really kind of boost your spirits a bit.”
The finest of Kinkaid’s saves on Sunday came when he stopped Zucker midway through the second period. As he fell to the ice, Kinkaid gloved a shot by Zucker that would have tied the game.
“He was, by far, our best player tonight,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said of Kinkaid.
Montreal scored twice in a 16-second span in the second period. Tatar evened the game with a power-play goal at the 2:50 mark. Dubnyk gave up a big rebound to Tatar, who buried it for his third goal of the year.
Then Danault put Montreal up 2-1 after a turnover by Minnesota in its own zone. Danault banked the puck off Dubnyk’s skate seconds after Tatar’s equalizer.
NOTES: The Wild’s regular-season sellout streak ended at 230 consecutive games. Sunday’s announced attendance of 17,344 fell short of the Xcel Energy Center’s capacity of 17,954. … Sunday was Minnesota’s second home game of the season through eight games.
Canadiens: Host San Jose on Thursday night.
Wild: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.
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Galaxy beat Minnesota United 2-1, move on to face LAFC

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos scored four minutes apart midway through the second half, leading the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota in the first round of the MLS playoffs Sunday night to spoil United’s postseason debut.
Jan Gregus gave the Loons life with a goal in the 87th minute, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy hung on to advance to face top seed Los Angeles FC on Thursday in the Western Conference semifinals and set up another “El Trafico” derby between the Southern California rivals.
The Galaxy are 2-0-3 against LAFC, which joined MLS in 2018 and set the league record this season with 72 points by going 21-4-9 in the regular season.
In front of a frenzied crowd that filled up Allianz Field, the new-in-2019 stadium for the third-year MLS franchise, Minnesota had the fans roaring and groaning throughout the first half while owning the attack. Robin Lod had three prime chances, including a one-timer from the middle he sent sailing over the net.
All those missed scoring opportunities came back to haunt the Loons, when Ibrahimovic’s close-range shot was blocked by Michael Boxall, and Lletget knocked in the rebound in the 71st minute. Then in the 75th minute, dos Santos let one fly for the lower right corner that was out of a diving goalkeeper Vito Mannone’s reach.
The Loons were the only home team to lose in the first round.

Lynx leading scorer Sims suspended 2 games for DWI charge

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Lynx leading scorer Odyssey Sims has been suspended for two games to start the 2020 season, stemming from a drunken-driving charge last summer.
The punishment was announced Friday. Sims was sentenced by a Hennepin County judge Tuesday to 10 days of house arrest. One of the two gross misdemeanor DWI charges filed against Sims in June was dismissed after she pleaded guilty to the other.
Sims was tested for alcohol after she was pulled over on the interstate near downtown Minneapolis. She registered 0.20, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
The 5-foot-8 guard averaged 14.5 points this season, her sixth in the WNBA.

The Wonderwall: Minnesota United has steep backing behind it

By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — When Minnesota United takes the field for the franchise’s first match in the MLS playoffs, the Loons will have a stadium full of fired-up fans behind them.
If the home team wins, the scene at Allianz Field will briefly become a 19,400-person karaoke bar with the patrons passionately belting out one of the biggest hits by the 1990s British pop band Oasis.
“Wonderwall” is the song. It’s also the aptly named section of seats for the most ardent followers of this fledgling soccer club. They hover ever so steeply behind the south goal at the open-air European-style venue that has brightened a worn-down neighborhood with LED lighting, translucent skin, and a curvy, 360-degree canopy.
“There’s a massive connection between the club and the fans. They expect it a long, long time in a city like this,” goalie Vito Mannone said. “When you work so much, and you wait so many years to be that team that opens a new stadium, that’s what happens. It’s a great atmosphere every game. We made it a fortress for teams to come here and get points.”
Minnesota United, which plays the Los Angeles Galaxy in a first-round game on Sunday night, finished in fourth place in the Western Conference this season on the strength of a 10-1-6 record at its new home. The Loons played their first two years as an MLS team a few miles to the west at TCF Bank Stadium, a college football facility more than double the size of Allianz Field.
The first season in the new place was a smash, with an average attendance of 19,723 that was over official capacity. That ranked 10th in the league, with Atlanta United (52,510) and the Seattle Sounders (40,247) again the front-runners for crowds in their NFL stadiums. According to figures compiled by Soccer Stadium Digest, league-wide attendance in 2019 took a slight dip from the previous year, though the downsized home of the Loons was one factor. They averaged 23,902 fans in 2018.
“You can see the relationship that’s developing between the players and the crowd, which is always a great sign,” Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said. “They’ve been incredible. The supporters have been everything we expected for this stadium, and I think the players have been that as well. They’ve given performances here that they’ve been excited about.”
Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire, a former health care executive who bought the team in 2012 to save the financially strapped club from folding while it was in the lower-tier North American Soccer League, worked closely with the architectural firm Populous to design a robust supporters’ section in an attempt to replicate the most vibrant stadiums around the MLS and the world. They listened to feedback from the fans, too.
What developed from those discussions was the Wonderwall, a 2,920-seat, pyramid-shaped area that allows for safe standing and rises at a sharp 35-degree incline to keep the highest rows as close to the field as possible. As with other venues around the game, the energy derived from the chanting, clapping, jumping, drum beating, flag waving and scarf raising originates there.
“The attitude and enthusiasm and involvement with the game that the supporters traditionally play now exists throughout the stadium,” McGuire said. “Everybody is engaged. It is not just a group of the super fans sitting down at one end, conducting their own business.”
Many of the fans that fill the Wonderwall have backed the team since it played for much smaller crowds in Blaine, a suburb about 20 miles north of the current stadium where the Loons still maintain a practice facility.
“I think it helps that we’ve come from a lower division together,” said Sam Solberg, the president of the Dark Clouds, one of the two major fan groups along with True North Elite. “There are a lot of established relationships there, which is huge in our ability to support the stadium and support the team and in the team’s ability to form a strong fan base. I think the supporters’ group can be the heart and soul of a stadium, and I think this year has demonstrated that.”
Safe standing areas like the Wonderwall are becoming a popular fixture of MLS venues, with Los Angeles FC, Orlando and San Jose also among them. The 1989 Hillsborough disaster in England, when a crush of fans entering a stadium trampled 96 people to death and injured more than 700 others, prompted a ban on standing at soccer games for the top two tiers in England.
There has been a recent push for some English teams to restore standing, and Tottenham’s new stadium has rails just in case it’s allowed again. Because of a ban by the Union of European Football Associations, clubs in Germany have to replace standing areas with fixed seats for Champions League and Europa League matches. For instance, Borussia Dortmund’s capacity drops from 81,365 to 65,829 when its famous yellow wall is eliminated.
In this crowded Twin Cities sports market, moving up to MLS required for the league, the team and the city some faith that Minnesota United’s small-but-loyal fan base would reproduce with greater exposure.
“The whole place is loud and involved, and everybody stays to the end,” McGuire said. “It’s an extraordinary experience, and I think a lot of that is the spillover from this great supporters’ group.”

Lions like quick turnaround to face Vikings after tough loss

By Larry Lage
AP Sports Writer

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions are thankful they have a short week to prepare to play Minnesota in a possibly pivotal NFC North matchup.
A quick turnaround gave the Lions less time to lament critical calls that didn’t go their way on Monday night in a loss at Green Bay.
“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise because we don’t have time to think about anything but Minnesota,” Lions center Frank Ragnow said. “And, the Vikings are really good — especially on defense.”
The Vikings (4-2) have won two in a row, leaning on one of the NFL’s best defenses and an offense that is starting to perform up to its potential.
Minnesota has averaged 33 points the past two weeks with a grinding running game led by Dalvin Cook that helps Kirk Cousins make big plays through the air. After a slow start, Cousins had six touchdown passes and one interception in wins over Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
“That team is on fire right now,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
Detroit (2-2-1) has dropped two straight after an unbeaten, three-game start because it failed to keep double-digit leads against the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
“You can’t let it stick around in your head because there’s a long season left,” Flowers said.
If the Lions don’t win Sunday at home, though, their chances to contend in the competitive division will take a hit.
Minnesota, meanwhile, wants to avoid starting 0-3 in the NFC North after playing its first three division games as visitors.
“We get them all at home at the end, so it all evens out,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Here are some things to watch when the Lions face the Vikings:
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter leads the league with eight tackles for losses. He set an NFL record with a sack against the Eagles that gave him 46 for his career, the most in history by a player younger than 25. Hunter has two more games before his birthday, and the Lions have provided him plenty of pass-rushing opportunities in the past. Hunter has seven sacks in six games against them, plus three fumble recoveries and one he returned for a 32-yard touchdown.
The Lions lost to the Packers at least in part because they scored only one touchdown and had to settle for Matt Prater’s five field goals. That followed a trend.
In goal-to-go situations, Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL with four touchdowns in nine chances.
“That’s not good enough,” quarterback Matthew Stafford acknowledged.
Inside the 20, Detroit has gotten into the end zone on half of its 16 opportunities to rank among the bottom third of the league.
The problem may be ominous for the Lions because they were relegated to scoring only on field goals in two losses to Minnesota last year.
Stafford is 87 yards passing from setting a record for the fewest games to reach the 40,000-yard mark. Matt Ryan reached that number in 151 games, five more than Stafford has played.
“When you step back and look at stuff like that, I think it’s just pretty amazing,” Patricia said.
Stafford has bounced back from a lackluster year with a solid season so far as the league’s ninth-ranked passer. He has thrown nine touchdown passes and two interceptions, both coming in a Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Stafford is playing outstanding, maybe the best I’ve ever seen him,” Zimmer said. “He’s throwing the ball into a lot of tight windows. He’s pulling the trigger. He’s still scrambling.”
Though Minnesota hasn’t been stung by questionable late-game calls quite like Detroit was at Green Bay, penalties have been an uncharacteristic problem for the team.
The Vikings had four penalties for 30 yards against them in their win over the Eagles last week, both season lows for a team that has been charged with the third-most penalty yardage in the league (456) and irritated its discipline-driven coach in the process.

Unbeaten No. 20 Minnesota back in poll, faces woeful Rutgers

By Tom Canavan
AP Sports Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Minnesota is back in the Top 25 for the first time in five years and it has a shot at staying there a while.
The Golden Gophers (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) will take their eight-game overall winning streak on the road to New Jersey to face woeful Rutgers (1-5, 0-4) on Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights have been outscored 165-7 in their conference games and have won twice in their last 18 overall. The university fired coach Chris Ash at the end of last month and the job is being handled on an interim basis by Nunzio Campanile.
Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck was a Rutgers’ assistant for two seasons (2010-11) under Greg Schiano. The Gophers are 10-2 in their last 12 games and 18-13 overall under Fleck.
The last time Minnesota started a season 6-0 was 2003. They went 7-0 in 1960 and won the national title. The previous eight-game win streak bridged the 1948-49 seasons.
“We are the same as we were when we started the season in terms of our mentality,” Fleck said. “We’re 0-0. We want to be 1-0 in the Rutgers championship season, period. I’m proud of our players for adopting that because it’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to have your players actually respond to it and then have them become messengers of that.”
Putting the coach talk aside and looking ahead, Minnesota will face an inconsistent Maryland (3-3) next weekend and then it will have a bye to prepare for a home game against No. 7 Penn State (6-0). The rest of the schedule is at No. 23 Iowa, at Northwestern and the season finale at home against No. 6 Wisconsin, its bitter border rival.
“We want them to enjoy the process,” Fleck said. “The dream is the journey. So many people think the dream is the result. When the result happens, no matter what it is, people are going to look at you and say, ‘Can you do it again?”
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency at 195.1, trailing only Joe Burrow (LSU), Jalen Hurt (Oklahoma) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama). Morgan is tied for 12th in the country with 14 passing touchdowns. His career completion percentage of 63.4%, would place him first in school history (he is 24 attempts shy of the minimum 300 attempts needed).
Linebacker Kamal Martin is considered one of Minnesota’s best NFL prospects, a long-armed, 6-foot-3, 245-pound athlete who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after collecting a career-high 15 tackles in a win over Nebraska. Despite playing in four of Minnesota’s six games this year, with one absence due to an unspecified violation of team rules and the other because of a foot injury, Martin leads the team with 41 combined tackles and is tied with safety Antoine Winfield Jr. for the lead with two interceptions.
Rutgers punter Adam Korsak is averaging 45.44 yards per punt (19th nationally) on 41 punts. The former Australian rules football played has had 20 punts inside the 20-yard line. He has been named the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week twice this season.
The Gophers defense went 111 minutes and 27 seconds without allowing an offensive touchdown until a late score by Nebraska ended the streak. The Gophers gave up a total of 547 yards over the last two games against Illinois and Nebraska, and 14 of the 24 points allowed were from defensive touchdowns by the Illini. Last year against Illinois and Nebraska, the Gophers surrendered a combined 1,305 yards and 108 points.
Saturday’s game marks the 18th time Rutgers has faced a ranked Big Ten opponent since joining the conference in 2014. They are 0-17. The Scarlet Knights have played at least three ranked Big Ten opponents each year since joining the conference. They are currently ranked last in the conference in scoring (11.8 points), scoring defense (36), total offense (266.7 yards) and total defense (450.2).

Canadiens shut out Wild 4-0

MONTREAL (AP) — Carey Price made 17 saves for his first shutout of the season and Victor Mete and Nick Suzuki scored their first NHL goals in a first-period burst in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher also scored and Nick Cousins had an assist in his Montreal debut to help the Canadiens improve to 3-2-2. The 32-year-old Price has 45 career shutouts.
Alex Stalock stopped 28 shots for the reeling Wild. They dropped to 1-6-0.
Playing his 127th NHL game, the 21-year-old Mete opened the scoring with 5:23 left in the first. He found space in the slot, took a backhand pass from Cousins from behind the net and beat Stalock to the glove side. That ended the longest goal drought to start a career in Canadiens history, a mark previously held by Mike Komisarek at 122 games.
Armia connected on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:28 left in the first. He leads Montreal with four goal.
Suzuki scored with 37 seconds remaining in the period. A whiffed shot from Jeff Petry landed right on Suzuki’s backhand before Stalock could cover the right post.
Gallagher put a fourth past Stalock at 12:40 of the third period.
NOTES: The Canadiens beat Minnesota for the first time since Nov. 8, 2014, snapping a streak of nine losses. … Mete and Suzuki are the first Canadiens to score their first NHL goals in the same game since 2005, when Chris Higgins and Alexander Perezhogin did it against the New York Rangers.
Wild: Host Montreal on Sunday.

Unheralded Vikings LB Kendricks on verge of breakout season

By Dave Campbell
AP Pro Football Writer

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — For an accomplished, experienced group like the Minnesota Vikings’ defense, maintaining that edge is more of the goal than plowing new ground.
If there’s unheralded one player still primed for a breakout, though, middle linebacker Eric Kendricks would be the guy. He’s the most prominent member of the defense yet to procure any of those postseason awards, and his performance in 2019 has put him on such a track.
“I always feel like I’m just a little underrated. It is how it’s going to be,” Kendricks said. “I’m trying to be the best person I can be and trying to accomplish things that I’ve never accomplished before.”
The defense under coach Mike Zimmer has consistently been one of the best in the league, and the Vikings have largely kept up with the standard this season. Their average allowances in yards per play (4.8), yards per game (310.3) and points per game (15.5) rank fifth, fifth and sixth in the NFL, respectively, and they’re tied for eighth in the league with a 50% red zone touchdown rate with seven surrendered to opponents in 14 opportunities.
More than half of the lineup has played in at least one Pro Bowl: defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, nose tackle Linval Joseph, outside linebacker Anthony Barr, safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Another established starter, cornerback Trae Waynes, was a first-round draft pick.
Kendricks would love to be the next name on the list.
“I would definitely say it’s on the list of things to do, but it doesn’t take over my motivation or anything like that. It doesn’t consume my thoughts,” Kendricks said. “That’s kind of an afterthought. I’m just trying to get these wins with this team and do damage and just whatever happens, happens.”
Kendricks is fifth in the NFL’s official statistics with 38 solo tackles. He’s tied for seventh with seven passes defended, one of only two linebackers in the top 12 in the league. Vikings coaches have credited him with 61 combined tackles, a whopping 25 more than the next-closest player, Barr. In Minnesota’s 38-20 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, Kendricks teamed with cornerback Mackensie Alexander on a third-down sack early in the fourth quarter to force a punt. A little later, he forced a fumble that Barr recovered to put the game on ice.
“I was into it, and I was running around,” Kendricks said. “I wasn’t trying to force things, but I was finding the ball, and in the same breath, now that I watch the film, there’s definitely things that I could’ve done to put our team in better positions at times.”
The coaching staff would concur with that.
Early in the second quarter, when Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz rolled out to his left on third-and-6, Kendricks let his man, wide receiver Nelson Agholor, slip behind him as he drifted forward. Leaping to bat the pass was his only play, and that’s what he did, nearly intercepting the ball after whirling around to try to find it.
Running back Miles Sanders also caught a 32-yard touchdown pass on a wheel route out of the backfield that left Kendricks flat-footed in the second quarter.
“He was back to the rookie Eric Kendricks. Then he settled down and got back to playing really well. He just has to stay disciplined in his coverage,” Zimmer said. “I mean, we’re asking him to do a lot of things, because he’s a talented guy. He can cover, he can run, get sideline to sideline, so we ask him to do a lot of things.”
Selected out of UCLA in the second round in 2015 — a stellar draft for the Vikings that also yielded Waynes, Hunter and wide receiver Stefon Diggs — Kendricks has been entrenched as the middle linebacker and appeared in all but five games. There’s as much on his plate in this scheme as for any other player, but in typical rookie fashion in his first year he often overdid it, leading Zimmer to good-naturedly accuse him of playing like he’d consumed too much coffee.
Kendricks has come a long way from those days, now in the first season of a five-year contract extension valued at $50 million. He’s more than willing to embrace his status as one of the lesser-known names on this defense.
“We’ve got a bunch of studs. It is what it is,” he said. “So that’s just one of those things I feel like it’s kind of like my life story.”

Cousins, Diggs fly past Eagles in Vikings’ 38-20 win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two weeks ago, Stefon Diggs was a dissatisfied star with a decreasing role for a Minnesota team in a mini-crisis on the passing attack.
Patience was all Diggs needed, as it turned out, to re-establish himself as a prominent receiver for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings.
Cousins threw to Diggs for three of his four touchdowns, racking up a season-high 333 passing yards as the Vikings ravaged the Philadelphia Eagles secondary in a 38-20 victory Sunday.
“You never really know how it’s going to come out, because you never know what defense you’re going to get and what adjustments they’re going to make, but as far as like starting fast early, it’s always a big thing because you want to hit the ground running,” said Diggs, who had 167 yards on seven catches.
Diggs scored on first-half passes that covered 51 and 62 yards, becoming the first player since Randy Moss in 2000 to post two touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards in one game for the Vikings (4-2).
“You play the game that’s called,” Cousins said, “and today it was an aggressive one.”
Diggs’ most important catch came late in the third quarter, a double toe tap in the back of the end zone from 11 yards out that pushed the lead to 11 points after Carson Wentz and the Eagles (3-3) had pulled within 24-20 with 17 straight points.
The Vikings became the first team to hit the 100-yard rushing mark in the last nine games against the Eagles, who also surrendered 300-plus passing yards for the fourth time in six games. The danger presented by Dalvin Cook in the backfield and the success of Cousins at selling fakes created a wealth of play-action completions.
“They run the ball, play action, and throw the ball deep,” Douglas said. “That’s just what they always do.”
Cousins went 22 for 29 with one sack and one interception that was, oddly enough, Diggs’ fault when a sideline throw hit him in the hands, bounced off his helmet and into the air behind him for former Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo to pick off late in the second quarter.
The sign that this was not the Eagles’ day came right after that, when a fake field goal from the 21 failed with 20 seconds left. The snap to Jake Elliott left the kicker with only one receiver, well-covered tight end Dallas Goedert, and the desperation throw was tipped by Anthony Harris and intercepted by Everson Griffen.
“We had the look we wanted, tried to take advantage of it, get an opportunity to maybe shoot it in the end zone after that,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “They made a great play.”
The Eagles have been badly missing starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox, and Cousins took full advantage. Adam Thielen made a slick double move to beat Sidney Jones for a textbook fade throw by Cousins for a 7-yard touchdown to cap the opening drive. Diggs blew by Rasul Douglas on a post route in the second quarter to put the Vikings up 17-3.
Diggs beat Douglas again on the first snap of their next possession for the second of his career-best three scores, after Douglas began the play like he was settling into zone coverage and Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins missed his assignment over the top. Even with a 32-yard touchdown pass by Wentz to running back Miles Sanders before the break, the Vikings pushed their first-half scoring advantage in three home games this year to 66-17.
Diggs famously made the “Minneapolis Miracle” catch to win a playoff game two years ago for the Vikings, then followed that big moment with his first 1,000-yard season in 2018, but after being targeted an average of 10 times per game last year, he had a quiet start to 2019.
Following an ugly performance two weeks ago in defeat at Chicago that had the passing game out of sorts, Diggs skipped some team activities, drew more than $200,000 in fines and acknowledged unspecified dissatisfaction with the direction of the offense while speaking cryptically about his desire to be with the Vikings.
Since then, the Vikings have won twice by a combined score of 66-30.
“We’ve got guys that can light this thing up,” Cook said, adding: “We give him opportunities to do what he do, he’s going to be Kirk.”
Wentz finished 26 for 40 for 306 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. After the last score by Diggs, the Eagles wilted under the weight of the Vikings pass rush and the crowd noise at U.S. Bank Stadium, where they left as first-time Super Bowl champions following their last visit two seasons ago.
Eric Kendricks and Mackensie Alexander shared a third-down sack after an all-out blitz called by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer forced a punt. Anthony Barr recovered a fumble by Zach Ertz to end the next drive at midfield. Alexander picked off Wentz on the following possession.
“I’m sure there was a lot of doubt in the stadium, because they’re a very explosive team,” Zimmer said.
Eagles: LT Jason Peters hurt his knee in the second quarter, returned briefly after an initial absence and then was pulled for good. Andre Dillard took over. … LB Nigel Bradham (ankle) was also injured in the second quarter and did not return.
Vikings: LT Riley Reiff (ankle) left in the first quarter, returned briefly, then was sidelined in the second half and replaced by Rashod Hill.
Eagles: Play at Dallas next Sunday.
Vikings: Play at Detroit next Sunday.
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Rodney Smith, unbeaten Gophers run over Huskers 34-7

By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rodney Smith ran for 139 yards and a touchdown, helping Minnesota overpower Nebraska on a wintry Saturday night and stay undefeated with a 34-7 victory on the strength of 322 yards rushing.
Shannon Brooks ran for 99 yards, Mo Ibrahim had 84 yards and three touchdowns, and the Gophers (6-0, 3-0) stayed in a tie for first place in the Big Ten West Division with rival Wisconsin behind an all-around performance that had the Huskers (4-3, 2-2) on their heels all evening.
With Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez sidelined by a left knee injury, Noah Vedral took over for his first career start and was under pressure nearly every time he dropped back to pass. He went 14 for 23 for 135 yards and rushed 15 times for 49 yards, but the Gophers had four sacks and kept the Huskers from scoring until early in the fourth quarter. Standout freshman wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson left on a cart with an injury to his lower left leg in the second quarter, one of an endless string of setbacks for the Huskers.
The Gophers, who turned down the thermostat in their indoor facility this week as low as it would go and repeatedly directed their skill position players to dip their hands in ice water between drills, were more than ready for the second-coldest October game in the 11-season history of TCF Bank Stadium. The kickoff temperature was 37 degrees with gusty wind and a rain-snow mix, the ideal scenario for turning their senior tailbacks Smith and Brooks loose.
After a well-covered Maurice Washington dropped a fourth-and-2 dump-off by a heavily pressured Vedral from the 29 on the opening drive, the Gophers went the other way in five plays and 71 yards to score on a 15-yard tunnel screen pass from Tanner Morgan to Chris Autman-Bell.
Vedral found JD Spielman wide open off a crossing route for a 51-yard gain on the following possession to reach the 26, but then he was sacked on back-to-back plays. Still with a prime opportunity to tie the game on their next series, Robinson scampered down the sideline on a run that ended inside the 5 on the first play of the second quarter, but fellow wide receiver Kanawai Noa wiped that out with an illegal block on the second.
Whether it was first down or third down, the Gophers leaned hard on their inside zone running attack with sparkling results. Right tackle Daniel Faalele was out, so left guard Blaise Andries took his spot, center Conner Olson slid over for Andries, and John Michael Schmitz started at center for the first time. The reshuffled front manhandled an all-senior Nebraska defensive line that averages 320 pounds between the three of them.
On the first play of the third quarter, Morgan froze the Huskers with a hard run fake and found Tyler Johnson wide open for 45 yards to set up Ibrahim’s second touchdown. On third-and-44 at their 44, trailing 21-0, the Huskers tried a fake punt, but tight end Austin Allen was stopped short after taking the snap.
Nebraska: With a coach named Scott Frost, well, the Huskers ought not to have been psyched out by the adverse conditions, but they were off all night. Their troubling trend of stumbling out of the locker room at halftime continued, too, with a five-play, 63-yard touchdown drive for the Gophers followed by a punt for the Huskers. They’ve been outscored 75-41 in the third quarter this year, including 37-7 in the last three games.
Minnesota: The Gophers are bound to crack the next Associated Press Top 25 poll, after being the first team below the cut in the latest edition. They haven’t been ranked by The AP since the last week of the 2014 season, and they’re surging toward an unbeaten record for the Nov. 9 matchup at home against Penn State. The play calling by offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca was superb, and the Gophers are scoring at their highest rate since 2005, an average of 35 points per game.
Minnesota: The visit to Rutgers next Saturday will be the first in program history for the Gophers, who have won four straight games away from home starting with last year’s win at Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights have been outscored 165-7 in their four Big Ten games this season.