NFC East: 2010 Week 16 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Vikings 24, Eagles 14

December, 29, 2010
Well, at least Michael Vick doesn't have to worry about any Vikings asking for his autograph after this game. Here are some thoughts following a 24-14 loss and a lackluster performance by the Philadelphia Eagles:

What it means: The Eagles didn't look all that interested in playing this game. After a 48-hour delay because of a snowstorm, it was the Vikings who acted as if they had something meaningful on the line. A rookie quarterback named Joe Webb came out and showed a great deal of poise and ability in sticking it to the Eagles' defense. Philadelphia (10-5) had an opportunity to stay in contention for a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, but now they won't have a playoff bye. There were conspiracy theories that the Eagles wanted to wait for the snow to clear because they thought a slow field would help the Vikings. But in a rare Tuesday night game, the Vikings ran circles around Vick and his dynamic wide receiver DeSean Jackson. It was remarkable to watch the Vikings cornerbacks simply bully Jackson (two catches, 32 yards) at the line of scrimmage and then lock him down when he tried to go deep. The Eagles are still a dangerous team, but Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier showed just how vulnerable this team is to the blitz.

What happened to Vick? I think it's safe to say that Tom Brady now has the MVP in hand. Coming off a brilliant comeback against the Giants, Vick was running for his life against the Vikings. They came at him in waves, and when he escaped the first blitzer, he usually encountered a huge defensive tackle. I zeroed in on Eagles Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in the second half. He didn't have a chance against defensive end Jared Allen and he could've been called for holding several times. But it was Vick who made the key mistake in the game. With the Eagles attempting to add to a 7-0 lead just before the half, Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield blitzed off the corner and poked the ball away from Vick. He scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown to tie the score. Vick was 25-of-43 for 263 yards and one touchdown, an interception and two fumbles lost. The Vikings did a brilliant job of surrounding him throughout the game. Vick ran for 63 yards and a touchdown, but he was limping around the field in the fourth quarter. Frazier knows Andy Reid as well as anyone because he coached for the Eagles. You could see the influence of the late Jim Johnson with several of those blitz calls. And Frazier may have earned himself the full-time gig in Minnesota with the way his team performed.

Broken record alert: Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are so enamored with the passing game that they go long stretches without feeding the ball to running back LeSean McCoy. The Vikings didn't have to respect the play-action game when they know McCoy is rarely going to touch the ball in the running game. He was probably the Eagles' best option in this game, but he only touched the ball 17 times.

Gashed by the run: The Eagles had held teams to an average of 89.1 rushing yards per game, but the great Adrian Peterson had 22 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown. And on the game-clinching drive, Peterson toyed with the Eagles' defense. When rookie safety Kurt Coleman took the wrong angle toward Peterson on a counter play, the running back exploded outside for a big gain. Then he bulled his way into the end zone.

What a tangled Webb: You'd think the Eagles would be used to mobile quarterbacks after seeing Vick in practice, but Webb baffled defenders with his legs. On a touchdown run in the second half, he froze defensive end Juqua Parker with a nice move and then he made linebacker Moise Fokou look silly before waltzing into the end zone.

What's next? Andy Reid will have the opportunity to rest Vick and some of his other starters against the Dallas Cowboys, but I think he'll try to play them for at least a half. I heard one broadcaster suggest late in this game that the loss to the Vikings could be a good thing for the Eagles because it would open the door to Reid resting some of his players. But I assure you Reid would rather not have that "luxury." The Giants were actually rooting for the Eagles to win this game because it meant the Bears might try harder to beat the Packers next Sunday. I received the following text from Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield in the fourth quarter: "It looks like Philly is gonna [hurt us] even when we aren't playing them."

Maybe Eagles fans can find something positive out of Tuesday's game, but I'm at a loss right now.


Wrap-up: Redskins 20, Jaguars 17 (OT)

December, 26, 2010
Let's take a quick look at how the Redskins won their sixth game of the season in Jacksonville:

What it means: If the Washington Redskins could just take every game to overtime, they'd be in good shape this season. The Redskins (6-9) hurt the Jaguars' playoff hopes with a 20-17 win. It was the Skins' fourth overtime game this season, and they've won three of them. Quarterback Rex Grossman made some important throws, but you have to give the defense a ton of the credit. Washington was missing 13 of its 22 opening day starters. They had to start Kevin Barnes and Macho Harris at safety, and it was Barnes who made the interception that set up Graham Gano's game-winning field goal in overtime. The Redskins have lost all four coin flips heading into overtime, but they've managed to hold their own.

The backups: Coach Mike Shanahan has been criticized for how he's handled a couple of high-profile players, and he's deserved almost all of it. But give Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett credit for putting together a game plan that caused so many issues for the Jaguars. Outside linebacker Rob Jackson made the first start of his career for an injured Brian Orakpo, and he had a sack and forced a fumble. Barnes missed a tackle on David Garrard's game-tying touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but he bounced back with the huge interception.

What's up with Cooley? Redskins tight end Chris Cooley should be Grossman's best friend these days, but he dropped four passes, including a certain touchdown, in the first half alone. It's remarkable that Washington was able to overcome such an uneven performance from one of its best players.

Moss is The Man: Santana Moss continues to be the most consistent playmaker on this team. He's now surpassed 1,000 yards. He had five catches for 85 yards. Kyle Shanahan has done a nice job of putting him in motion and lining him up in different spots. Moss never cares what the Skins' record is during the season. He played his heart out last season, and he's doing the same for the Shanahans now.

What's next? The Redskins will host a New York Giants team that will likely be fighting for a playoff spot considering the way things are going Sunday in Green Bay. Everyone knew the Jags had more to play for than the Skins, but a lot of reserves went out and played an excellent game. Those players gave Shanahan something to build on as he prepares for the final game of the season. If the Redskins could upset the Giants, it could set the tone for the offseason.