For their first five games, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings were defined by their ability to hold onto the ball. On Sunday, they seemed to be competing to see who could give it away more.
In the end, Minnesota's mistakes outweighed Philadelphia's, and the Eagles walked away with a 21-10 victory in an ugly contest of two potential NFC playoff teams.
Hashtag No Parties in Minneapolis:
The teams combined for eight turnovers, five of which came in the first half. Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford threw his first interception of the season and fumbled four times, while Eagles rookie Carson Wentz threw two picks as part of a continued regression from his hot start.
Eagles writer Bryn Swartz put it in perspective:
The game marked Bradford's first return to Philadelphia since he was traded to the Vikings at the end of training camp. Tabbed as perhaps the biggest surprise star of the first six weeks, he showed off exactly why the Eagles were so giddy to land a first-round pick for his services Sunday.
Bradford completed just 24 of his 41 throws for 224 yards. The Vikings offense was confined to a series of dinks and dunks over the middle of the field, and Philly's defense swarmed to limit yards after the catch. Bradford had averaged a career-high 7.92 yards per attempt in his first four games but was limited to an ugly 5.46.
The Eagles also put consistent pressure on Bradford, bringing him down for six sacks. Even when he did manage to get off throws, he typically did so under some form of duress. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network offered commentary on the Vikings' inability to protect their quarterback:
Wentz wasn't much better, but he was good enough. The No. 2 pick threw for 138 yards on 16-of-28 passing, tossing a touchdown against two interceptions. His third-quarter connection with Dorial Green-Beckham put the game out of reach given Minnesota's offensive futility.
Green-Beckham, in his second season out of Oklahoma, recorded his first touchdown as an Eagle. He hasn't had much of an impact since coming over in a trade with the Tennessee Titans, but ESPN's Matt Bowen sees a future for him as a red-zone target:
Josh Huff led the Eagles in receiving with four grabs for 39 yards. Huff also had the game's first touchdown, a 98-yard kick return scamper that gave the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish.
No receiver on either team topped Cordarrelle Patterson's 67 yards, which came on seven receptions. He caught a garbage-time touchdown from Bradford late in the fourth quarter. The Vikings were playing with just four wide receivers due to injury, and the returning Stefon Diggs appeared to be at less than 100 percent.
Both teams found some success in the running game but little explosion. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon combined for 98 yards on 23 carries for the Vikings, and Ryan Mathews led the way with 56 yards on 14 carries for the Eagles. From a fantasy perspective, skill-position players were almost nonexistent this entire game.
The Vikings remain solidly in first place in the NFC North, but it's perhaps time to temper excitement. They had gotten to 5-0 despite starting a quarterback few wanted and losing their stalwart running back to a knee injury in Week 1. Mike Zimmer has done wonders with the defense, and it's a championship-worthy outfit. There was just bound to be a few weeks when Bradford returned to his career mean; that level of regression is insurmountable for any defense.
Having dropped each of their last two games, the Eagles needed a win this week. It's obvious they're going to have a significant home-road split this season; they're a perfect 3-0 at home and 1-2 on the road. Each of the home wins has come by double digits.
Philadelphia has road tilts against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants ahead, so we'll get a better idea of how to assess its playoff hopes soon. But for now, taking down the last undefeated team in football isn't a bad start.
Zimmer told reporters he wasn't pleased with his team's performance: "I thought we played embarrassing in two phases. I'm very disappointed in the performance."
He also discussed Bradford's outing: "I thought he missed some throws that he normally makes, but he got hit a lot. It's probably hard to evaluate his performance when (the line) looks like a sieve."
Vikings tackle Jeremiah Sirles on the line's outing: "If Sam doesn't feel comfortable back there, it's our fault. It's not one guy's fault. It's five guys' fault."
Wentz talked about the win: "That's a great defense we played. I have to be smarter with the football. We found a way to win. That's huge for us."
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