By Kevin McGuire
That thud you just heard was the Eagles crashing back down to earth. While a recent winning streak sure was fun, the Eagles got a huge dose of reality from a team that really had no business thrashing them the way the Vikings did Sunday in Minnesota. Now it is back to the drawing board for the Eagles, who have made a path to the postseason just a bit more difficult after getting pounded by the Vikings, 48-30.
Here is how the grades look for this one.
Quarterback Grade: C+
Nick Foles had some very good numbers in this game, but by the time he really found a groove the damage was done and the defense made it impossible to lead a comeback. Foles completed 30 of 48 pass attempts for 428 yards and three touchdowns, but for the second straight week he was intercepted and he was sacked four times for a loss of 32 yards. Foles was also the team’s leading rusher, with 41 yards on five rushing attempts. The quarterback was not the reason the Eagles lost this game, but despite the numbers he certainly was not exempt from some criticism either.
Offense Grade: C-
A glance at the numbers would show a pretty good day for the offense. Scoring 30 points should have been enough to win this game – blame the defense for not keeping the Eagles in the game – but the offense had to settle for field goals early on while the Vikings were hanging on to a first half lead. LeSean McCoy was given just eight carries, which is unforgivable after proving how he can change the outlook of a game when he gets the football, but he did get five receptions for 68 yards as well. DeSean Jackson had 195 receiving yards and a touchdown. The Eagles even converted seven of 14 third-down attempts but were just two for five inside the red zone.
Defense Grade: F
This was not the same Eagles defense that seemed to have been improving week by week. The Eagles defense should have had a bit of relief not facing Adrian Petersen and Toby Gerhart but the Vikings took to the air against the Eagles secondary for a total of 383 yards by Matt Cassel, who averaged 10.9 yards per attempt. Backup RB Matt Asiata came up with a huge performance on the ground out of nowhere, rushing for three touchdowns and Cassel even added a six-yard touchdown run. The Eagles forced just one turnover and struggled to get off the field in the first half, with the Vikings having three drives of 10 plays or more, and the big plays cost the Eagles in the second half.
Special Teams Grade: B
Kicker Alex Henery was perfect on his three field goal attempts, with a long field goal of 51 yards and punter Donnie Jones averaged 41.3 yards per punt. The kickoff and punt coverage was solid as well, allowing just 58 yards total on combined returns. But the Eagles return game never produced anything solid upon which to build momentum. Jackson returned one punt for just one yard. Brad Smith did have a nice 47-yard return to put the Eagles right at midfield but the offense imploded and went three-and-out.
Overall Performance: D
Every team that is on the cusp of becoming a powerful contender must learn to win games they are supposed to win. For the first time this Eagles team was faced with the position of being the team that should win and had no logical reason to lose. To the surprise of some, the Eagles played like a team unfamiliar with taking on the role of favorite, and that inexperience may have come in to play. It happens. That doesn’t make it any easier to handle but if they can let this painful loss sink in, this can be used as a turning point for the Eagles. How the team responds to this loss next week at home in primetime against the Chicago Bears could tell us all if they truly have learned what it takes to turn the page. If they do not learn that lesson, the Eagles will be spending time organizing their NFL Draft board instead of preparing for a postseason game.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.