The Eagles are supposed to be the team with the high-octane fast-break offense, but today it was the Vikings running up the huge yardage and the huge points. With Daunte Culpepper and other members of the Vikings’ fan-selected All-Metrodome team in the house, the Vikes rolled the clock back to the high-flying late ’90s/early ’00s, whipping out the mad-bomber offense and laying 48 on Philly.
Everyone was worried about what the Vikings offense would look like without Adrian Peterson on the field. No AD, no problem. The Vikes just revved up the passing game, sprinkling in a little bit of Matt Asiata on the ground to keep things interesting.
Matt Cassel got things going through the air in way that hasn’t been seen since the 2009 version of Brett Favre, hitting receivers all over the field. Greg Jennings was the main beneficiary, catching 11 balls for 163 yards including a 57-yard TD early in the first. Jarius Wright caught 4 for 92 including a huge 42-yarder late. Chase Ford took an over-the-middle strike from Cassel and turned it into a 37-yard reception.
There were big plays galore for the Vikings’ passing game. The running game didn’t produce a ton of yardage but it did more than its share in producing points. Matt Asiata finished with only 55 yards on the ground, but he came up big when called upon in the red zone, finishing with 3 TDs. Cassel himself added a rushing TD.
You don’t explode offensively like that without a lot of help from the defense. Frankly it was not a great day by the Eagles’ D. Their coverage was not strong, their pass rush didn’t really bother Cassel much, their tackling was poor and they committed several huge penalties in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles’ offense wasn’t much better. Nick Foles has had a big season but on this day his accuracy was just off. The Eagles’ fast-break offense got no rhythm going except for a run in the middle of the third when they made the Vikings’ 27-9 lead shrink to 27-22. After that Eagles’ run, it looked like the Vikings were back on their heels. But they were able to right the ship, put more points on the board, batten down the hatches on defense.
The big performers defensively for Minnesota? First off, Brian Robison and Jared Allen, both of whom had a pair of sacks. Throw in Shaun Prater who had a big interception. Chad Greenway and Harrison Smith had some moments as well. The Vikings’ patched-together secondary held up pretty admirably on a day when everyone expected them to be shredded.
The Vikes protected their home field against a team looking to keep pace in the playoff race. The Eagles may have under-estimated the Vikings. They may have gotten a little haughty. The Vikings may have been playing with a bunch of backups but those backups have pride too. Matt Cassel is a professional QB and if you don’t D up against him, he can take you apart. Especially if he has receivers like Jennings, Wright and Patterson to work with.
Normally, the Vikings without Peterson are dead in the water. On this day, they faced a team with a very poor defense. Their QB was on. They have some talent at receiver. Their running back gave them tough yards when they were needed. Their defense did just enough. The Eagles seemed to lose their composure in the fourth quarter when the Vikings failed to roll over and die for them.
For the third time in four weeks, the Vikings have tied or beaten an NFC playoff contender. The Vikes are playing the spoiler role to a tee.