Eagles lose to Vikes, blow shot at bye
After an extra two days of rest, the Philadelphia Eagles lost their chance at a week off to get healthy.
By losing to the visiting Minnesota Vikings, 24-14, on Tuesday evening, the Eagles will not receive a first-round bye in the playoffs. Instead, this beat-up young team is locked into the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs and will play three games in a 12- or 13-day span, depending on whether their wild-card game is on a Saturday or Sunday.
Tuesday’s game was originally scheduled for Sunday but was moved back because of poor weather conditions, resulting in the NFL’s first Tuesday game since 1946. The Eagles certainly appeared rusty on the field. But they won’t attribute it to the delay.
“No. There are no excuses,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. “(The Vikings) came to play and we didn’t. They played better than we did.”
The struggles began with quarterback Michael Vick, who had perhaps his worst performance in an Eagles uniform. Vick, who on Tuesday was named as the NFC’s starting quarterback for the Pro Bowl, struggled reading Minnesota’s variety of blitz packages for almost the entire game after suffering a quadriceps injury on the first play of the game.
“The more we watched tape on Michael Vick, the more he made you kind of shake in your boots a little bit because he’s making so many plays on so many people,” Vikings interim head coach Leslie Frazier said. “And we just felt like we needed to attack him and not let him attack us as much as we saw him attack other people. Our guys did a great job of executing all the things we had talked about in practice.”
The southpaw passer, who had not thrown an interception in his first six games, now has one in each of his last five games. And he could have had at least three more Tuesday were it not for drops by Vikings defenders. He finished 25 for 43 for 263 yards and a touchdown, adding 63 yards and a score on the ground. However, he also turned the ball over three times, including one fumble that was returned for a touchdown and another that killed a third-quarter drive when the Eagles were down 10.
“The fumble in the third quarter was just me trying to get extra yards, trying to do more than what I could at the time,” Vick said. “That’s just trying to press the issue instead of letting it happen and playing smart. You got to be disciplined in this game. You got to be disciplined for four quarters and you got to be conscious of what is going on around you. I failed to do that and it cost us.”
But Vick wasn’t the only problem.
The defense struggled to control Vikings rookie quarterback Joe Webb, who made his first NFL start in place of the injured Brett Favre.
“You know, we have a lot of confidence in Joe,” Frazier said. “We’ve seen him do some things that you just know he has the ability to make plays. Now, how consistent will he be as a rookie playing against a very, very good football team, a very good defense? That’s what you don’t know. But tonight, you have an indication of things to come with Joe.”
Webb put together a 17-for-26 performance for 195 yards and, most importantly, no turnovers. He also did his best Vick impression with 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Webb, who was selected in the sixth round, practiced exclusively at wide receiver during Senior Week earlier this year. He was moved to quarterback recently after Favre suffered a spate of injuries.
“It means a lot,” Webb said of the win. “I do want to give my teammates credit. They were behind me all the way through the game. Everyone kept telling me, they’ve got my back, they’ve got my back. I just wanted to make sure first, I took care of the ball and put my team in place to win."
Because the Eagles have nothing to play for in terms of playoff positioning this Sunday against the visiting Dallas Cowboys, history says Reid will rest his key players, as he has in the past in similar situations. But a terse Reid wouldn’t concede that after the game.
“We’re not good enough to do that.”