By Joseph Santoliquito
Minneapolis, MN (CBS) — Joe Webb and James Mungro, the specters of Eagles’ pasts, were certainly lurking. This time, they came in the form of Matt Cassel and Matt Asiata, who had all of three NFL carries before his start Sunday at Mall of America Field.
The portents came early. The Eagles weren’t beating a team they were supposed to beat. Nick Foles looked off—and was. Then the Eagles were buried under a deluge of undisciplined play, personal foul penalties and shoddy defense that killed them.
With Adrian Peterson out, with Toby Gerhart out, the lowly Minnesota Vikings were taking it to the Eagles. And taking it to the Eagles, and taking it to the Eagles.
It started bad—then got worse, and the Eagles have a whole new set of ghosts to exorcise, like Asiata, and Jarius Wright and former Eagle Chase Ford, after a pretty pathetic 48-30 loss to the Vikings.
The loss snapped the Eagles’ five-game winning streak, dropping them to 8-6 with two games left, while Minnesota improved to 4-9-1.
It also places the Eagles in a precarious spot, most likely tied atop the NFC East with Dallas, after the Cowboys game with the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers.
The Eagles almost were without LeSean McCoy, who saw his record-breaking 217-yard game on 29 carries in the snow against the Lions reduced to eight carries for 38 yards against Minnesota—and outrushed by Nick Foles, who had a team-high 41 yards.
“I thought we had a great week of practice, we didn’t play well enough to win today,” Chip Kelly said. “We got down a little bit there and we weren’t moving very well up front, but I think trying to take advantage of some of the matchups in the passing game, trying to free up LeSean on some of the underneath routes, I felt like we down by two scores all of the time. We were just trying to get back into it.”
The Eagles never led. The 48 points was the most scored by the Vikings since 1998 and the most the Eagles have given up this season since their 36-21 victory over the New York Giants.
In the first half, the Vikings had three drives of 10 plays or more. Cassel completed his first nine passes for 168 yards. He finished looking like Fran Tarkenton, completing 26-of-35 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns, two passing and one running.
The Eagles couldn’t stop Minnesota, which finished with 455 yards of total offense, averaging 6.2 yards a play. But again, the Eagles didn’t help that with the strategy of avoiding dangerous return man Cordarrelle Patterson by squibbing their kickoffs and giving the Vikings good field position throughout the game.
“We were concerned going into the game with Patterson, obviously, the best returned in the league even if you do kick it deep, he takes it out,” Kelly said. “He has a 109-yard kickoff return and we knew how dangerous he was if you did kick it to him.”
It looked as if the Eagles would climb back into what was a miserable game with 1:18 left in the third quarter, after a Mychal Kendricks interception at the Vikings’ 45 off a Benny Logan deflected pass.
Three plays later, Foles, who had no touch most of the day, converted that into a one-handed 3-yard TD catch by Zach Ertz in the corner of the end zone with :15 left in the third quarter. The score brought the Eagles to within 27-22.
But the Vikings responded with a 6-play, 54-yard drive to start the fourth quarter, sealing the victory when Asiata pounded off left guard for a 1-yard score with 13:04 remaining in the game.
That was it.
Cassel added another score, when he connected with a 5-yard score to Patterson with 6:54 left.
The Vikings didn’t punt until there was 8:28 left in the third quarter—after Minnesota’s first three-and-out.
What was worse is some Eagles looked like they crumbled under the adversity. DeSean Jackson got into Jason Avant’s face in the third quarter, Cary Williams just sat on the bench, his helmet off, resigned to the fact that this was a lost cause.
At the end, Asiata finished with as many touchdowns as he had carries before the game with three.
One area that seemed to irritate Kelly was the lack of discipline the Eagles showed on the sideline, with the bickering among each other, and on the field with a surplus of personal foul calls.
“That will be straightened out, that’s not how we’re supposed to play,” Kelly vowed. “Obviously, it’s unacceptable and we’ll take care of that.”