I’ve got to say – this game went pretty much the way I expected it to. The Eagles stuffed the run for the most part, allowing Adrian Peterson to only get loose once on a long TD run. “All Day?” More like “A Play.” Jim Johnson’s blitz scheme forced Tarvaris Jackson into a bad interception, and Asante made up for his drop against the Redskins by taking it to the house. The defense is playing lights out football right now – they’ve been spectacular. The Eagles really never got a run game going, but they didn’t completely abandon the run, mixing it up enough to keep the Vikings defenders honest. And though the Vikings keyed on Westbrook for much of the contest, the Eagles managed to spring him loose once on the long screen pass that probably put the game away.
It wasn’t always pretty, but who cares? They moved on.
That’s what I expected. Here’s what surprised me.
– I actually think Chester Taylor was more effective against the Eagles defense than Adrian Peterson was. He ran with vision, found the holes, and consistently made a defender or two miss. Peterson’s downhill, run-with-a-vengeance, one-cut style didn’t really work against the Eagles defense, with the exception of the one touchdown run.
– So much for my assessment in my game preview that the Special Teams advantage was a push. DeSean Jackson had a hell of a game returning punts, Akers was 4-4 on field goals, and Rocca punted the ball well all game. The Special Teams were actually a very big factor in this game.
– The Vikings weren’t called for their first penalty until the fourth friggin’ quarter. Really? You mean to tell me the Vikings didn’t commit ONE infraction for three and change quarters? Bull.
– Nice contributions from Jason Avant and Brent Celek. Avant caught several third-down passes that led to first downs, and Celek was Donovan’s favorite target on a couple of drives.
– Buckhalter wasn’t quite as involved as I would have liked, but Andy actually had him and Westbrook on the field at the same time on a couple of plays. And Buckhalter broke a long run that turned into a field goal. When Buckhalter has a few positive plays, it tends to mean good things for this Eagles offense.
– Andy didn’t completely abandon the run. I really, really thought he was going to go completely pass-happy, but he kept the Vikings defense just off-balance enough to create holes in the passing defense.
– Donovan played really, really well, save the interception at the end of the first half, which frustrated the hell out of me because he threw a fade pattern to a well-covered Kevin Curtis. ON THIRD-AND-TWO! That always frustrates me. That aside, I thought he played a near-flawless game. He escaped trouble in the pocket, found the underneath receivers, and was consistently accurate. Well done, Mr. McNabb.
– The Vikings converted a lot of early third-downs, which really surprised me. They finished 8-18 on third-down conversions for the game, but were very effective early. What was also surprising was that Tarvaris Jackson converted them without ever really scrambling. With his athleticism, I thought he would have taken off more. Glad he didn’t.
The Eagles did what they had to do, but they didn’t play a perfect game. What really concerned me about this effort was that the Eagles didn’t have one long, sustained touchdown drive. They had several nice drives when they were trapped deep in their own end of the field, and they either flipped field position, or kicked a field goal. But look at how they scored in this game: they had field goals set up by a long DeSean Jackson punt return, another on a long DeSean reception, another on a long run by Buckhalter, and their last on a fumbled shotgun snap by Tarvaris Jackson. Their two touchdowns came on an interception and the long screen to Westbrook.
Listen – a win is a win. I know that, and I’m pleased with the effort shown by this team. But that style won’t really fly against the Giants next week. That’s all I’m saying.
So, on we go to New York. I expect an absolute battle, but it is one the Eagles have already shown the ability and grit to win. More on that in the upcoming week – for now, we celebrate.