|by Ryan Messick
“It was a complete tail-whipping right there.”
“That was terrible, every phase was terrible.”
“No excuses. They came to play, we didn’t play.”
Eagles head coach Andy Reid summed it up pretty effectively after his team was upset 24-14 at home by the Vikings and their rookie, first-time starting quarterback Joe Webb. With the loss, the Eagles chances of a first-round bye in the playoffs disappeared and they are now locked in to the No. 3 seed in the NFC.
The Eagles seemed flat from the very beginning, even after taking a 7-0 lead in the middle of the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown toss from Michael Vick to Clay Harbor. Vick was injured on the first play of the game, suffering a quad contusion, and appeared to be limping throughout the game. By late in the first half, the Eagles had seen their four other drives turn into three punts and an interception. Then disaster struck.
Philadelphia had the ball with 2:15 left in the half at it’s own 5-yardline, and things seemed to click. After five plays and 80 seconds, the Eagles were at the Vikings’ 39-yardline. Then, on second down, Vick dropped back and faced a blitz from Antoine Winfield. The cornerback lunged, stripped the ball out of Vick’s left hand and fell to the ground. Vick slipped en route to the loose ball and Winfield popped up, scooped it up and dashed 45 yards to the end zone, tying the game at 7-7.
“I got to do a better job of protecting the football, regardless if we don’t pick the blitz up,” Vick said. “It’s still my responsibility to push up in the pocket, two hands on the ball, drills that we do every day and I didn’t do it and we see the effects and what happened and how that was a huge momentum swing for the Minnesota Vikings.”
The Eagles drove back into long field goal range, but David Akers missed a 54-yard attempt. The Vikings opened the third quarter with a 46-yard pass from Webb to Percy Harvin and followed it up with a 23-yard toss to Visanthe Shiancoe. Five plays later, a 30-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell had the Vikings on top for good.
The Eagles went three-and-out on their next drive, and the Vikings went back to work. Adrian Peterson gained for 41 yards on three runs followed by a pass. Then Webb hit Sidney Rice for 16 yards and Asante Samuel’s unnecessary roughness penalty moved the ball half the distance to the goal line, all the way down to the Eagles’ 9-yardline. Two plays later Webb broke contain and scrambled nine yards into the end zone, leaving Minnesota on top 17-7.