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Vikings' Murray relishes opportunity to play in front of hostile Eagles fans

Fans tailgate outside Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia before a Sept. 6 game between the Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn.—Philadelphia is known for its hostile fans. That's fine with Vikings running back Latavius Murray.

The Vikings play Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Never mind that their last trip there, a 38-7 loss to the Eagles in last January's NFC championship game, didn't go well.

"I love it," Murray said Monday. "I don't want to say I love playing away more than home, but to me there's no better feeling than everybody's against you and cheering against you and wanting to see you fail."

Eagles had plenty to cheer about in the last meeting. Minnesota scored on its first possession; the rest was a disaster. Two weeks later, the Eagles won Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"For everybody that was here last year, look, for one they're a great team," Murray said of the rematch. "And it's our next opportunity, so I'm excited about that most, especially coming off a loss (38-31 last Thursday at the Los Angeles Rams). But then there's an added part that they're the defending champs and they got our number last year."

The Vikings fell to 1-2-1 with a 38-31 loss to the Rams last Thursday in Los Angeles, and slow starts by the Vikings and Eagles (2-2) have taken some of the luster off the game. Minnesota hasn't won since the Sept. 9 opener against San Francisco.

"This game is really not about revenge," said Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. "It's about executing and winning ballgames. It seems like a lot of motivation coming off back-to-back losses (to Buffalo and the Rams). Obviously, we played them last year for the big one and we lost. It's a lot of stake for us, and we've got to get another W."

Defensive struggles

In his previous 14 years as an NFL coordinator and head coach, Mike Zimmer ran some impressive defenses. Seven of those teams ranked in the top seven in the NFL in total defense, and two were No. 1 — Dallas in 2003 and the Vikings last season.

But through four games this season, the Vikings are ranked 21st in in total defense (381.5 yards a game) and 20th in scoring defense (27.5 points a game).

"We have things we need to work on," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "Now, we've got to get to it. We've got to change those. Otherwise, we're going to get beat again."

The Vikings are giving up 277.5 yards passing per game and rank 23rd in the NFL. One issue has been an inability to generate a consistent pass rush.

"I think it can get better," Richardson said.

Briefly

• Linebacker Kentrell Brothers returns to practice this week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Vikings will have a roster exemption during the week. If they wish to place Brothers on the 53-man roster for Sunday's game, they would need to make a roster move.

• Punt returner Marcus Sherels has missed two straight games with a rib injury. "You always want to be out there for your team, but you've got to stay positive and try to get better soon," said Sherels, who wouldn't speculate on whether he might play Sunday. In two games without Sherels, the Vikings have returned just one punt (by Mike Hughes) for no gain.

• With Everson Griffen out indefinitely due to personal issues, NFL Media reported that the Vikings on Monday worked out veteran defensive ends Robert Ayers and Lamarr Houston. NFL Media also reported that Minnesota will sign defensive end Jonathan Wynn, who was with the team in the preseason, to the practice squad.

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