If you're a Philly fan, you gotta love the grit the Eagles showed today in Minnesota. They stymied the best back in the league, Adrian Peterson (sorry B-West, he's earned the moniker, just like you did last year), for 19 of his 20 rushes. AP gained 83 yards on 20 carries, with a nearly half coming on a big 40 yard TD run in the 2nd quarter. So that respectable 4.1 yards per carry average for the game looks good, but take that run away and its 19 rushes for 43 yards...a little more than 2 per...not so hot, and it very much favors the Eagles.
Video highlights are available here
Merrill's Reese's call on Westbrook's 71-yard screen pass TD still gives me chills and get me fired up, hours after the game.
I cannot help it.
Other things I noticed in the game:
Asante Samuel coming through and earning that big paycheck. How many high-priced free agents have just sorta fluttered around, weighed down by the big wallet??? A.S. may have dropped a few INTs earlier in the season, but he's coming up pretty big down the stretch, and his Pick-6 of Minn. QB Tarvaris Jackson in the 2nd quarter proved to the game-winning points, and it was a huge boost for the Eagles, because prior to that huge turnover the Eagles had had to settle for FGs on all their drives....and putting up "3's" in the playoffs usually ends as the losing formula. That play got us a big 7 points and meant the Eagles took a lead into the half (they led 16-14 instead of trailing 14-9)....
Sheldon Brown DROPPING another gift INT in the second half. My man can lay the lumber from the CB position, but this season, he can't hold onto the ball...He must be trying too hard.
Brian Dawkins flying around the field annihilating fools in the first quarter. Talk about setting a tone. A few hits like that on B. Jacobs and the ball is definitely going to be flopping around on the turf a few times next week.
The D-Line, but in particular, Trent Cole, who was all over the place. I don't recall any sacks by Cole, but I paid attention to the D-Line today, and they refused to get pushed around by the Viking's O-line. They set a good edge against the Vikes running attack, and they were a lot of plays blown up in the backfield.
DeSean Jackson - the Eagles resident Mighty-Mite WR/KR really contributed to the win today. After a few heart-breaking drops against Washington a couple of weeks ago, DJ worked that lil speedster mojo for two awesome punt returns (setting up a FG, and what SHOULD and WOULD have been another scoring attempt except for the McNabb fumble)
speaking of Five - I think the folks that were calling for head might just be changing their tune. Besides the fact that the owner of the team just told the Boston Globe that he's going to be sticking around, there will still be people who would like to see McNabb traded in the off-season. And I fully admit, his play in mid-season sucked balls, and he needed to see the bench. His response since the benching has been phenomenal, and he's been a more mature leader ever since. Does he still have some fun? Sure. But I see less dicking around and little more "we got a job to do" from both him and the team.
Correll Buckhalter, the Eagles #2 RB put the Eagles in position for a FG early with a nice 27-yard run in the first quarter, and then promptly "disappeared" as the Birds did not dial up his # much at all after that. Why you ask, apparently he was taking the FB reps in place of a dinged by Dan Klecko and that just dictated him not seeing the ball much. They cannot forget about Buck next week though.
And of course, Brian Westbrook, who broke the game open with a huge 71-yard TD reception in the 4th quarter. Pretty much stuffed all game long, I really have to credit the Eagles for continuing to feed B-West the ball and get him the touches, because we all know what he can do, and some games its just a matter of time.
Speaking of coaching patience, I was afraid, really afraid Andy Reid & Co. were going to abandon the run and just go into pass-pass-pass mode once it became apparent that the running game just wasn't going to be very successful earlier today. But to his credit he didn't. Did the Eagles pass more than run. Sure did. But the Birds O kept dialing up runs, even late in the game and I think it kept the Viking's defense honest. I think that made a real difference. Next week should be different, as the Giants don't have the same Run D that Minnesota boasts...though they are pretty damn good, and we'll need to stay committed and get better results, to win next week.
But for now, Philly fans can dream of what might be for another week. And after things looked so bleak just a few weeks ago, that's really not such a bad thing.