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Meltdown in Minneapolis: Eagles streak snapped in 48-30 loss to Vikings

Dec 15, 2013, 5:38 PM EDT

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This had “trap game” written all over it. Shades of Joe Webb some fans even lamented in the lead-up to Sunday. Whether this loss will be remembered similarly in Philadelphia Eagles lore probably depends on how they finish the season, but today, it feels devastating.

After holding nine straight opponents to 21 points or fewer, the Eagles were absolutely smoked by a shorthanded Minnesota Vikings squad missing its best player. No Adrian Peterson? No problem. Leave it to Matt Cassel, the veteran quarterback who led the purple and gold to a 48-30 win over the Birds in Minneapolis, snapping Philly’s five-game winning streak.

The Eagles had absolutely no answer for the Vikings’ passing attack from the opening kickoff. Named the starting signal-caller earlier this week, Cassel completed 26 of 35 passes for 382 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also ran one in for a score.

That was without the benefit of a productive running game, mind you. Third-string back Matt Asiata, who entered the game with three career carries, wound up punching the ball into the end zone three times, but ran 30 times for just 51 yards filling in for the injured AP. That’s less than two yards per attempt.

The bulk of the blame for this debacle lies with Philly’s secondary, obviously. Patrick Chung was torched on a 57-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings in the first quarter—Jennings finished with 11 catches for 163 yards. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were beaten repeatedly on the outside by the likes of Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson.

The Eagles’ front seven was stifled for much of the afternoon too, which didn’t help the defensive backs. Cassel was also on point though, getting rid of the football quickly and making precise throws. Give him credit for playing a smart game. His only turnover was deflected at the line of scrimmage by Bennie Logan.

Chip Kelly’s game plan didn’t do his defense many favors, either. The Eagles didn’t want to kick it deep to dangerous Cordarrelle Patterson, the NFL leader in kick returns, so they squibbed numerous times instead, which often resulted with the Vikings starting near midfield anyway.

Nor was it the greatest of play-calling days on offense for the Birds head coach. For some reason, LeSean McCoy only carried the ball eight times coming off of a franchise-record 217 yards the week before. McCoy finished with 38 yards for a 4.8 average to go with 68 yards through the air.

Shady’s lack of involvement might’ve been mitigated had Nick Foles been sharp, but it was another up-and-down performance for the third week in a row for the second-year passer.

Foles threw for 428 yards and three touchdowns and completed 62.5 percent of his 48 attempts, but the big numbers are a little deceiving. He missed several receivers badly, quite a few of them wide open. He threw his second interception of the year, a terrible decision. Plus, he was sacked four times, several of them drive-killers, all of them avoidable.

The pass-heavy approach was undoubtedly meant to expose a Vikings secondary that was missing its top three players on the depth chart due to injury, and it did to a degree. DeSean Jackson in particular had a big day, hauling in 10 receptions for 195 yards and a score.

Unfortunately, Foles was too inconsistent from series to series. The Eagles also were not proficient in the red zone, converting just two of their five trips into six points. Running the ball a bit more might’ve helped.

Clearly, the defense finally falling apart was the biggest factor in the loss however. Minnesota racked up 455 yards of total offense, and went 8 for 13 on third downs. In fact, the Eagles forced just two punts all day.

In many respects, it was the defense’s worst game of the season. Take away Denver’s two special teams scores, and 48 is the most points the unit has allowed in 2013.

It will be an issue to watch going forward as well. Earl Wolff is nearing a return, but missed his fourth-consecutive game. Kurt Coleman replaced Chung at one point, but then Coleman got hurt. So did Colt Anderson. Cary Williams was benched at the end of the game, and Brandon Boykin was injured as well on a kick return.

Suddenly, an area that has been one of the club’s most consistent strengths the last two-and-a-half months will face loads of scrutiny for at least the next week. So will the Eagles as a team, as they drop to 8-6 on the year and still have Dallas hot on their heels in the NFC East.

Was this a collapse in the vein of the one the Birds suffered in 2010, when they were vying for a postseason bye and a moribund Vikings team with Joe Webb under center upended Philly on a Tuesday night? That remains to be seen. The Eagles did make the playoffs, but lost to the eventual champion Green Bay Packers in the first round.

It should also be noted Minnesota has posted a record of 3-2-1 over its last six games, so while the loss is still disappointing given all the absences, the perception that this team was a pushover was flawed to begin with. That said, they were without Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player and a host of other starters.

As of now, the Eagles are far from a lock to make the tournament. If they don’t, this one will loom large. Hard to look at this as anything other than a missed opportunity in Minnesota.

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Notes

- Another big reason the Eagles lost was penalties. Philadelphia was flagged nine times for 94 yards.

- I get kicking away from Cordarrelle Patterson, but notice Vikings kicker Blair Walsh just booted most of his right out of the end zone. Is Alex Henery really unable to do the same?

- Nick Foles finished with more run yards (41) than LeSean McCoy (38).

- Zach Ertz and Jason Avant had the Eagles’ other touchdowns. Mychal Kendricks came up with the interception. Kendricks, Connor Barwin, and DeMeco Ryans had sacks. Kendricks and Cole each had three tackles for loss.

- Did anyone else feel like this was an Andy Reid coached game? Got away from running the ball. Timeout wasted before a two-point conversion. General undisciplined play. Definitely had that feel.

  1. lahoe819 - Dec 15, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    THANK YOU ROMO FOR BEING ROMO!!!

    Reply
  2. Matt Flynn - Dec 15, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    You owe me.

    Reply
  3. Bob - Dec 15, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Unreal. Just maybe Dallas can lose to that dumpster fire in DC next week.

    Ill get a jump on this discussion: I don’t care if Dallas wins you can NOT rest starters against the Bears after the crap of this week.

    Reply
  4. ferg508 - Dec 15, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    I agree there were elements of this game that felt like Andy Reid style coaching, but the referees really bothered me today. I know you can’t pin a blowout loss on the refs usually but what happened in the second half (Eagles meltdown) was directly affected by the position I feel they were unfairly put in from the first half.

    Problems included (in no particular order)
    - The Foles illegal block was pretty goddamn weak
    - Pass interference in the end zone on a 3rd down stop was a call for a touch football game, please
    - Holding no-call against whoever threw Mychal Kendricks on the ground on one of Cassel’s TD runs
    - No-call on two Vikings jumping on Foles after a slide
    - Bad spot on 3rd down (2nd half) Shady run that Chip didn’t challenge

    Overall it felt like an NBA game to me, the fans were on the refs and the home team got the calls- created non-trivial momentum for the Vikings. I don’t mean to excuse the small mountain of Eagles’ mistakes on the field and coming from the sidelines but I feel like that was all covered above.

    Reply
    • 2sentz - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      You forgot the total-bullshit PI call against Avant that killed our very first drive and set the tone for terrible calls all day. I agree not blaming ref’[s for all breakdowns, but they really affected that entire game and made up for any fortuitous Ariz and Det calls folks claim we got.

      Reply
    • willh888 - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      I don’t remember receivers selling it like they do these days. Instead of fighting through a defender, they’ll just awkwardly wiggle both arms, throwing their chin up like they made such extraordinary effort to blast through that concrete wall with no luck. All the defender has to do to earn these PI calls is reach, not turn around, open hand near the chest, contact and the appearance of contact.

      A great example of the refs grand confusion yesterday was the unnecessary roughness out of bounds where I think one of the DB’s flew across near the sideline, grabbed the back of the runners shoulder pads, and continued the tackle while they were heading out of bounds, FLAGGGGG. Yokozuna belly splash on Foles after he slides, aaaaah, uuuuh. Like two fellas said above, Eagles mistakes ultimately killed this game, but it’s frustrating to see how the NFL is seriously trying to boost scores/ratings by giving the offense simply every single advantage.

      Reply
  5. thekrisheim - Dec 16, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    kurt coleman
    patrick chung
    colt anderson
    nate allen

    Reply
  6. Sleezy Baby - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    Can we please note the fact that the best rusher in the league got 8 rushes? Honestly, I dont care how bad the secondary may seem, anyone can just drop back every time and wait for them to throw it. If shady doesnt rush for more then 15 times, there is a massive problem.

    Reply
  7. psudrozz - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    market correction.

    let’s see what happens next week.

    Reply
  8. 2sentz - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Can’t remember last time the entire NFC East laid such a giant mid-Dec turd.

    Wash- 7 turnovers, 3-win season
    NYG- 5 picks, got shut out
    Dal- Just epic. “Romo” inches closer to a verb

    Jesus we had the BEST game yesterday. Pretty sad-sac.

    Reply
  9. Pete D - Dec 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    “I get kicking away from Cordarrelle Patterson, but notice Vikings kicker Blair Walsh just booted most of his right out of the end zone. Is Alex Henery really unable to do the same?”

    AMEN! It was in a dome for crissakes. Kick it deep!

    Reply
    • erzug - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      I questioned that tactic also, especially considering the 51 yarder he kicked right through the middle that would have been good from 60 yards.

      Reply

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