SUPER BOWL!!!!! What did I tell you? I said, Minnesota doesn’t belong in the playoffs. I said, this game will be about which Eagles team shows up. I said, during the Bye Week that the only playoff team I fear is Philadelphia. Now look at us. ONE WIN away from winning our first Championship since 1960. One win away from hoisting one of those annual replicas that our rivals are so fond of.
EAGLES 38 – Vikings 7
The Vikings went down the field for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, running the ball as well as they would all night. Then the nightmare began.
Your beloved Eagles responded with 38 unanswered points, as we dominated, harassed and humiliated Minnesota’s defense that (I’d heard) was the best in the NFL. Didn’t look like much to me. Or apparently to our Quarterback.
QB Nick Foles (26/33 – 78.7% – 352 – 3 – 0) put on an absolute clinic, dissecting (what we’d all been told was) the NFL’s second-rated pass defense. Well no, that’s not fair. The Vikings did seem very second rate out there.
RB Jay Ajayi (18 – 73 – 4.0 – 0 – 0) found creases to run in, which helped us move the chains and set up manageable 3rd downs. That led to a 3rd down conversion of 71% (10/14). For the second game in a row, RB LeGarrette Blount (6 – 21 – 3.5 – 1 – 0) found paydirt early.
WR’s Alshon Jeffery (5 – 85 – 17.0 – 2) and Torrey Smith (5 – 69 – 13.8 – 1) gave the Eagles the sort of outside deep threats, I’d been looking for since Week 1. Foles heaved touchdown bombs to each man, (53 and 41 yards, respectively). It was almost enough to overshadow TE Zach Ertz (8 – 93 – 11.6 – 0) who had a beautiful 36 yard catch and run, that set up a 38 yard Field Goal by K Jake Elliott (5/5x, 1/1f, 38) to end the first half.
Those are great numbers, but it was the Defense that won this game. They put a lid on the Viking’s offense after that opening touchdown. On the very next possession, CB Patrick Robinson (2 – 0 – 1 – 0) intercepted a pass and took that tasty treat back 50 yards to cancel out Minnesota’s only lead of the night.
Rookie DE Derek Barnett (2 – 1 – 0 – 1) got our only sack of the game and forced a fumble (pictured), which was recovered by DE Chris Long (2 – 0 – 0 – 0). Safety Corey Graham (5 – 0 – 1 – 0) intercepted a dropped interception attempt by CB Ronald Darby (7 – 0 – 0 – 0) who had a serious impact on the game with that interception, and the block which sprang Robinson on his interception return.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Stop the run: We held the Vikings to 70 yards on 18 carries. (DONE)
2) Challenge their defense: At no point did Nick Foles shy away from attacking and turn into Captain Checkdown. Even better, the playcalling wasn’t trying to protect him. That 41 yard flea-flicker to Smith was outright ballsy; as was that double-faked handoff to set up a Middle Screen. The Eagles didn’t show a single ounce of fear and decided to make the Vikings earn everything. (DONE)
3) Collapse the pocket: The Eagles got good pressure throughout the day, but we didn’t get nearly as much up the gut as I was anticipating. This is likely why the sack production was so low this week. (NOT DONE)
4) Speed Kills:
There were a few deep throws by Foles in this game. Better still, there were a few completions for scores. The idea was to challenge Minny’s corners and make them earn their reps. They weren’t up to the job. At least not against the Eagles. (DONE)
This week we went 3 out of 4 in Four Things, which brings our playoff total to 7 of 8. There are a couple of things we need to clean up in the next two weeks, before our SUPER BOWL re-match with New England.
On The Whole:
This was a great “get your confidence” game. I think Nick Foles NEEDED a game like this. It’s one thing to have your teammates say they believe in you, it’s a completely different thing to give them a reason to believe in you. No one is going to make Nick Foles the favorite over New England’s QB, but at this point people understand that Foles is not to be taken lightly.
We need more explosiveness from our run game. Ajayi gets the starting nod due to Draft pedigree, but he seems less explosive, and isn’t as good at catching the ball, as RB Corey Clement (2 – 20 – 10.0 – 0 – 0). Ajayi also doesn’t have a great nose for the endzone.
Our interior pass rush
has to show up next week or our odds of winning drop significantly. If we can stop New England’s QB from stepping up to deliver the ball, and make him come off of his first read, our odds or winning almost crack the ceiling.