Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wrap-up: Vikings 24, Eagles 14
By Matt Mosley
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.