The Philadelphia Eagles triumphed over the Minnesota Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minnesota, by a score of 26-24.
Brian Dawkins and Asante Samuel showed why they earned their Pro Bowl slots by leading this defense in an impressive performance.
Samuel set an NFL record for being the first player to have four post-season interceptions for touchdowns while Dawkins had 5.5 tackles, a forced fumble and he came up with the team’s only sack of the night.
Vikings head coach Brad Childress was quick to hurl laurels at the Eagle defense.
“They played with great resolve,” Childress said. “They didn’t lose sight of the big picture.”
Tavaris Jackson was not able to keep his team’s eyes on the prize.
Jackson went 15 for 35 for a measly 176 yards and zero touchdowns.
Adrian Peterson provided what little help he could. Although the Eagles made sure Peterson was not the person that beat them, he ran for 83 yards on 20 carries, and had two touchdowns. Almost half his yards coming on a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
AP AD had a hard fought night. Other than his 40-yarder, he had no rushing attempt that went for more than six yards. His only other long play came at the end of the game when he was sent back to return a kick in a last ditch effort to make something big happen. His 20-yard return did not spark anything from the Viking offense.
Speaking of offense, they Eagles had a lot of it. McNabb threw for 300 yards on 23 completions with one touchdown and one interception.
His hard work went unrewarded for most of the game. It was not until the 10th drive, which came in the fourth quarter, that the Eagles offense was able to find the endzone. Donovan McNabb said he was never worried about that.
“I wouldn’t say that we were struggling,” McNabb said. “We were able to sustain some drives but we just couldn’t come up with a touchdown.”
The veteran quarterback said this helped his offense wear down the Purple People Eaters and allowed them to strike at the proper time.
“We tried to soften them up a little bit with the run game,” McNabb said.
When Eagles head coach Andy Reid felt the time was right, he called on the ever-patient Brian Westbrook to run a screen pass. This was the most successful play of the night, and the second longest play in Eagle-postseason history.
Accompanied by a convoy of green helmets, the Eagle offense treated Westbrook like a king, not letting anyone touch him for 71 yards and dropped him off in the endzone.
“They had been pressuring us all game with the linebackers and the defensive line,” Wesbrook said. “We just called the right play at the right time.”
It will take much more than that to defeat “a tough Giant team” (I quoted that phrase because it was echoed by Reid, McNabb and Westbrook). The best team in the strongest conference in the league has had a week off, and now they will set their sights on a conference rival that split the season series.
The New York Giants defeated the Eagles early in the season and the Birds returned the favor, defeating the G-Men in NY.
In a bit of role reversal, the Eagles, who played their way into the playoffs on the back of a highly scrutinized quarterback, will ride a late-season wave into Giants Stadium to face a team that was in their position this time last season. The Giants rode that wave all the way to the Super Bowl. Will Philadelphia be able to make their way to Tampa while taking a detour in New York?