The Philadelphia Eagles faced very different conditions this week against the Minnesota Vikings. Instead of a blistery snowstorm, the Birds traveled to the Metrodome where it’s conditions were predetermined.
It seems as though the Eagles play better when facing the elements. Either that, or Philadelphia flat out underestimated the Vikings.
After an injury riddled few weeks, Minnesota appeared to have all the chips stacked against them going into today’s matchup. Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were both listed as inactive at the start of the contest. Also, the questionable quarterback and tight end positions would add to the Vikings limitations on the offensive side of the ball.
The Vikings offense seemed unfazed during Week 15 as they would put up a season-high 48 points in their 48-30 rout of the Eagles this Sunday.
Matt Cassel came out guns blazing in the first half completing 14 of his 20 attempts for 202 yards including a 57-yard strike to Greg Jennings. Jennings would have 114 receiving yards in the first half and finish with 163.
Matt Asiata also added a first half touchdown in his attempt to fill the big shoes of “All Day AP”. The Vikings would lead the Eagles 17-9 at the end of two quarters, clearly dominating during the first half of the game.
It was the Vikings ability to limit the production of LeSean McCoy that stifled the Eagles offense early. McCoy only rushed for 19 yards in the first half after having a record-breaking performance last week. McCoy would finish with a measly 38 yards on the day.
Chip Kelly was then forced to air the ball for most of the game. DeSean Jackson and Shady led the first half in receiving with 64 and 46 yards, and would finish leading the team in receptions with 195 and 68 yards respectively.
The Eagles would begin to slowly claw their way back with 3:14 remaining in the 3rd quarter, after Nick Foles found Jackson in the back of the endzone for a 30 yard score. The drive that lasted only 1:29 would make the game 27-16.
It seemed as though Philadelphia found new life after such an efficient scoring drive, as Mychal Kendricks intercepted a Cassel pass that was indented for Jarius Wright during the Vikings next possession.
Foles would capitalize on Kendricks’ hard work, finding Tight End Zach Ertz for a touchdown recption on a fade route. Ertz would finish with 57 yards and a touchdown. This capped off another short 3 play, 45 yard drive.
Minnesota’s lead would be cut to 5 after the Eagles could not convert the 2 point play, making the score 27-22.
Greg Jennings and Jared Allen had something to say about the Eagles resurgence. Apart from the constant penalties committed by the Eagles, Greg Jennings kept drives alive on key third downs and was Cassel’s safety net, leading the team in completions and targets. Although Allen would only have 3 tackles, 2 of them were giant sacks for a loss on third down.
Minnesota has had problems finishing games this season, but this game proved to be an exception to the rule. The Vikings punted the ball just twice and only turned the ball over once throughout the contest. Philadelphia’s inability to stop the Vikings attack or establish their running game made cost them the contest.
Nick Foles can’t be blamed for any Sports Illustrated curse either as he had a very impressive game statistically, with 429 yards, three touchdowns and a QB rating of 103.5. The defense simply underestimated how well the Vikings offense could perform considering all of the backups who were starting. Not to mention Foles had no support from the running game to keep drives alive, eat up chunks of the clock and keep Minnesota’s defense on their toes.
This is not to undermind the performance of Minnesota’s offense however. Greg Jennings was unstoppable and Matt Cassel had no problems leading his team down the field during every Vikings possession. Cassel would finish with 382 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a QB rating of 116.6. Asiata would make an impressive first start, finishing with 3 touchdowns. This tied a franchise single game touchdown record previously set by Adrian Peterson (5 times) and Hershel Walker.This marks Minnesota’s fourth win of the season.
The Eagles loss could make the playoff race even tighter for them as the 2013 season comes to an end.
Depending on how Dallas plays the next few weeks, Philadelphia’s matchup with the Cowboys in Dallas during Week 17 could determine who wins the NFC East. The next two weeks are must win for the Eagles after falling to one of the worst teams in the NFL this week.