5 Plays: Why the Vikings Beat the Eagles

Better late than never – The Vikings revived their season, improving to 2-2-1 after a revenge game in Philadelphia. The defense regained its edge, helping the team jump out to an early lead. In what could be a season defining victory, we saw missed field goals, big boy touchdowns and what’s a game in 2018 without questionable roughing the passer calls (and non-calls). Let’s see what else went into the victory:

1- 2nd Quarter, 12:30 – Wendell Smallwood drops pass

Score: 3-0 MIN

Field Position: 3rd and 3 at MIN 12

Result of Drive: Jake Elliott FG

Synopsis: A big catch by Shelton Gibson set the Eagles up in Vikings territory. Wendell Smallwood went in motion on a crucial 3rd and 3. The Vikings (I believe it was Anthony Barr and Mike Hughes) were confused on the play in who would take the running back, and ultimately Harrison Smith came in late to cover. Smallwood ran a route good enough for a first down, but Wentz put it slightly off target and Smallwood was unable to corral it, forcing a field goal.

Because of This Play:  The defense really set the tone early for the Vikes. However, a couple of missed field goals by Dan Bailey (only one at this point with the other looming), had the score much closer than play indicated. A conversion here would have set the Eagles up to take the lead early- and could have been deflating for Minnesota considering their strong start.

 

2- 2nd Quarter, 1:18 – Cousins evades pressure, converts to Thielen

Score: 10-3 MIN

Field Position: 3rd and 1 at PHI 47

Result of Drive: Adam Thielen TD

Synopsis:  With the Vikings up 10-3, the team was trying to grab points before the half. Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 10.52.57 AMOn 3rd and 1, the Eagles immediately got pressure in Cousins face, who navigated the pocket and hit Thielen to keep the drive alive.

Because of This Play: The result was two-fold. Inability to convert would have given the Eagles the ball with time to get points before the half. This conversion ensured the Vikings had the only chance to do so and increase their lead by two scores. Another questionable roughing the passer call followed up by a dime to Thielen put the Vikes up 17-3 heading into the half.

 

3- 3rd Quarter, 9:33 – Cousins hits Thielen again —  for 68

Score: 17-3 MIN

Field Position: 1st and 10 at MIN 5

Result of Drive: Dan Bailey FG

Synopsis:  After the Ajayi fumble, the Vikings went deep on their next play. Thielen got loose down the right sideline and took it deep into Eagles territory for a 68-yard play, turning bad field position into a scoring opportunity.

Because of This Play:  It’s big to get a red zone turnover, but it’s even bigger to turn that into points of your own. Credit John DeFilippo for calling an aggressive play after the turnover to give the Vikings a scoring opportunity. Ultimately a shoestring tackle away from a touchdown, Dan Bailey put one through to give the Vikings an all-important three score lead.

 

4- 4th Quarter, 9:23 – Harrison Smith whacks Jeffery, forces punt

Score: 20-14 MIN

Field Position: 3rd and 20 at MIN 40

Result of Drive: Punt

Synopsis: After an intentional grounding call, the Eagles were on the cusp of field goal range. Carson Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery in the middle of the field for what would have been a massive first down. Instead, Harrison Smith made a good break on the ball and jarred the ball loose to force an incompletion.

Because of This Play: A big difference in the game: points off of turnovers. Above, the Vikings turned their turnover into points, and here, the Eagles failed to do so. This was an incredible stand by the defense given that Philadelphia started the drive at the MIN 30. The Eagles had a chance to make this a three-point game or even take the lead with a convesion. Instead, they punted and gave the Vikings an opportunity to extend their lead.

 

5- 4th Quarter, 5:09 – Kyle Rudolph catch and run into Eagles’ territory

Score: 20-14 MIN

Field Position: 3rd and 1 at MIN 44

Result of Drive: Dan Bailey FG

Synopsis: On arguably the most important play of the game, the Vikings ran play action on 3rd and 1. Kyle Rudolph slipped out and turned it into 17-yards, putting the Vikings in field goal range with a chance to seal the game.

Because of This Play:  Credit to Latavius Murray for making this a short conversion, as he danced his way out of the backfield to turn 2nd and 7 into 3rd and 1. Also, credit again to John DeFilippo for dialing up another great play call. Failure on this play would have given the Eagles the ball back down by six, with an opportunity to win the game. The Vikings proceeded to go up by two scores as Dan Bailey split the uprights on a clutch 52-yard field goal.

 

Honorable Mentions:

1st Quarter, Richardson stop on 2nd down à Barr/Hunter stop on 3rd and 1, set tone for the defense

2nd Quarter, two false starts force Eagles to punt after Linval’s touchdown

3rd Quarter, Danielle Hunter sack stalls the Eagles drive, forces a FG to make it 20-6

4th Quarter, Intentional grounding forces Eagles out of FG range (Smith stops Jeffery above)

4th Quarter, Doug Pederson throws reckless challenge flag, wasting a timeout

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