Philadelphia (CBS)—The Eagles have responded. They’ve done it all season. Regardless of the situation, the insurmountable fourth-quarter deficits, depleting injuries, this is a team that’s shown incredible resiliency. But you had to start asking yourself how many more answers did Andy Reid and the amazing Michael Vick have left? How many more times could the Eagles be pushed to the brink, regain their balance and overcome?
You had to question when the Eagles would eventually run out of replies.
For the second-straight week, the Eagles were looking up at a double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback. This time, there were no miraculous punt returns for the Eagles, no incredible comebacks, no answers for the Minnesota Vikings, who had to wait two days to play before shocking the Eagles, 24-14, Tuesday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles dropped to 10-5 and will now own the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs—and no first-round bye. The loss clinched the No.2 spot for the Chicago Bears, who own the tiebreaker over the Eagles thanks to their 31-26 victory over Philadelphia on November 28.
“The Eagles have basically played one good quarter in the last eight quarters,” NBC Sunday Night Football color analyst Cris Collinsworth said. “It’s something you sometimes see with young teams like the Eagles. They sometimes don;t know how this game is played, while you had the old guys on the Minnesota side working and trying hard. But this may sound crazy, I’m not sure this could be the best thing for the Eagles. I’m not so sure you’ll see Mike Vick or a lot of the starters next week against Dallas. They don;t have anything to play for anymore. They get healthy and who knows, maybe this is a wake-up call for the Eagles. Maybe it’s a blessing and something they learn from, especially the young guys.”
Eagles’ fullback Owen Schmitt pretty much agreed with Collinsworth.
“You hate losing, but in the back of your mind, you know you clinched a playoff spot and won the NFC East, and maybe we could use this refocus, maybe this is the best thing to happen to us, for us to get our asses whipped like this,” Schmitt said. “We’re going to have to adjust, I’ll tell you that. They blitzed the hell out of us, and [the Vikings] kind of knew some of our calls. They had a good game plane and pressured us. But we have to stop playing from behind like this. Against the Giants, that was great. But you can’t place yourself in those holes all of the time and expect to come back all the time. You don’t place yourself in a good spot in the long run when that keeps happening.”
This debacle could be blamed on a few things. Maybe the Eagles were emotionally spent after their amazing fourth-quarter comeback against the New York Giants nine days prior. Or maybe hubris caught up the Eagles, playing against a Minnesota team starting Joe Webb at quarterback, but a talented team that still possessed weapons like Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin.
Whatever it was—it wasn’t good.
“It was an absolutely pathetic job on my part of getting my team ready to play,” Reid said. “We didn’t coach well and we didn’t play well. It was a complete tail-whipping right there.” And as for losing a first-round playoff bye, Reid emphatically stated, “We don’t deserve it after a performance like that. The whole offense was off. It wasn’t only on the players, it was on the coaches and me. It’s my responsibility to get us to play better and coach better. That was terrible. Every phase was terrible.”
The Eagles led once, 7-0, and that was it. Webb stung the Eagles for a 9-yard score in the third quarter when he sidestepped three Eagle defenders to trot into the end zone. On the drive that set up Peterson’s 1-yard touchdown run, which gave the Vikings a 24-14 lead, Webb came back to convert two third downs, on third-and-two at the Vikings’ 48, and third-and-11 at the Eagles’ 47 to crush any thoughts of a Philadelphia comeback this time.
Webb was poised, and seemed to gain confidence as the game progressed.
Vick, meanwhile, struggled. What propelled Vick to the improbable against the Giants apparently wasn’t bottled properly, because Vick seemed unsure of himself. In the last four games, Vick has now turned the ball over eight times (five interceptions and three fumbles).
“The Vikings really caught us off guard with all their blitzes,” Eagles’ center Mike McGlynn said. “They would come seven, eight, nine times, and suppose they came into this game without anything to lose. they out a lot of pressure on Mike. We just didn’t expect them to come at us like that, with all the blitzes.”
Vick finished completing 25 of 41 passes for 263 yards, with one interception, one fumble, a touchdown rushing and one passing. He missed open receivers, and the magical touch his passes had a month ago were sailing over receiver’s heads. Vick was seen limping through the locker room and stated after the game he suffered a right quad contusion on the first play of the game. Vick will probably rest against Dallas next Sunday, with the Eagles set as the third seed in the NFC.
DeSean Jackson was a nonfactor, catching two passes for 32 yards, and total of three touches. Peterson slammed the Eagles for 118 yards, and Minnesota had 337 yards of total offense, converting 6-of-13 third-down opportunities. LeSean McCoy also did little, rushing for 44 yards on 13 carries.
The Eagles will close out their regular season next week, hosting Dallas and facing Stephen McGee, the Cowboys third starting quarterback this season. But Webb wasn’t exactly supposed to be much of a threat, either, and for one of the rare times this year—the Eagles had no answer.
“If other teams want to look down at us after this, that’s fine,” Eagles’ middle linebacker Jamar Chaney said. “We know they won’t feel sorry for us, and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’re not getting any breaks. I know everyone can look at this loss and will probably jump off the bandwagon after what they saw. But this was a good wake-up call for us.”
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito
Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter at @JSantoliquito.