Eagles vs. Vikings: Takeaways from Minnesota's 48-30 Win over Philadelphia
The biggest question for the Minnesota Vikings might be: Where has this passing game been all season? It doesn't hurt that the Vikings were facing the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL. Without Adrian Peterson to help balance the offense, quarterback Matt Cassel looked very good leading the Vikings to a 48-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The last two times the Eagles and Vikings have met, the game meant much more to Philadelphia than Minnesota. The last time it was a 24-14 Vikings win on a Tuesday night that knocked the Eagles out of the running to win the NFC East.
Again this year, the Eagles were battling the Dallas Cowboys for the division. The loss to the Vikings leaves the door open for the Cowboys.
Here are some takeaways from the Vikings' surprising 48-30 win over the Eagles.
Next Man Up Has Been Used a Lot This Season
This season, the Minnesota Vikings have been hit hard with injuries. For the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings were without plenty of starters.
On offense, they didn't have tight end Kyle Rudolph and his backup John Carlson, running back Adrian Peterson and his backup Toby Gerhart and guard Brandon Fusco.
On defense, the Vikings were without their top three cornerbacks, Chris Cook, Josh Robinson and Xavier Rhodes.
The situation necessitated the promotion of running back Joe Banyard and cornerback Robert Steeples from the Vikings' practice squad.
All of this shuffling in the lineup would, of course, produce a 48-30 win.
Nick Foles Is as Good as Advertised
Even though the Minnesota Vikings were able to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles, quarterback Nick Foles still put up some huge numbers.
He picked apart the Vikings' patched-up secondary for 428 yards on 30-of-48 passing with three touchdowns and only his second interception of the season. His passer rating was an impressive 103.5 in the loss.
Matt Cassel Proves He Is the Vikings' Best Quarterback
Matt Cassel completed the first nine passes he threw in the game. They covered 168 yards and a touchdown, as he led the Vikings to scores in three of their four first-half possessions.
In the only drive that did not yield points, kicker Blair Walsh just missed a 55-yard field goal.
At the half, Cassel was 14-of-20 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown.
The most yards Christian Ponder has had in a game is 236 yards.
Cassel then opened the second half with a 42-yard completion to wide receiver Jarius Wright and capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
He finished with 382 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception on 26-of-35 passing. His passer rating was an impressive 116.6—that surpassed the 103.5 passer rating for Eagles' quarterback Nick Foles. Foles finished with 428 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Cassel also ran for a touchdown on a six-yard quarterback draw for the first score of the second half.
Greg Jennings Finally Had the Game We've Been Waiting for
Big things were expected when the Minnesota Vikings signed free-agent wide receiver Greg Jennings.
The Vikings' leading receiver came into the game against the Eagles with an average of four catches per game. By halftime, he had seven catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, with quarterback Matt Cassel targeting him eight times.
He finished with 11 catches for 163 yards and the touchdown. The 11 catches were a career high. His previous best was nine catches for 119 yards against the Chicago Bears in Week 3 of the 2011 season for the Green Bay Packers.
Perhaps the Vikings Have Found a Cornerback
In late October, the Minnesota Vikings claimed cornerback Shaun Prater off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. Prater was a fifth-round draft pick for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012.
With injuries to the Vikings' top three cornerbacks, Prater got the opportunity to make the first start of his career—and he made the most of it.
With the Eagles driving in the second half, Prater picked off a deep pass intended for DeSean Jackson at the Vikings' 5-yard line.
With the release of A.J. Jefferson, he and Marcus Sherels are the only cornerbacks on the roster with an interception.
No AP, No Toby Gerhart, No Problem
If the Vikings had lost this game, no one would have been surprised. The Vikings' top two running backs, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, were both inactive against the Eagles.
It came down to third-string running back Matt Asiata getting not only his first start of the season, but his first carry.
While his yardage total may not have been Peterson-like, his three rushing touchdowns certainly were.
He finished with 51 yards on 30 carries.
The Vikings Defense Looked Great Against the Leading Rusher in the NFL
LeSean McCoy came into the game as the NFL's leading rusher with 1,305 yards. He was averaging 100.4 yards per game before running into the Vikings.
Of course, it didn't hurt that the Vikings had a 27-9 lead in the third quarter as it limited the number of rushes for McCoy. He finished with only 38 yards on only eight carries—both were season lows for McCoy.
If only Adrian Peterson could have played today—he needed only 122 yards to overtake McCoy to lead for the NFL rushing title.
No Matter When It Comes, a Win Still Feels Good
The Vikings' 48-30 win over the Eagles did a lot. It gave the Vikings more wins than they had in 2011 and showed how good this offense could be.
Even though the win drops the Vikings' draft selection to seventh, it was more fun seeing this team put up a lot of points on a team driving for the postseason, than another last-minute loss.
The Vikings have plenty of needs to address in the offseason, so if a franchise quarterback appears not to be available, then fill another need. Keep in mind that some pretty good quarterbacks can be found later in the draft. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, like Seattle's Russell Wilson, was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft.