By: Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Complacency can take on many forms. The Eagles’ contentment has not only gripped the Eagles, but it seems their fan base, after winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history last season.
There just seems to be one important fact that the Eagles and their fans have seemed to forget—the NFL didn’t stop playing games after the Eagles won.
The NFL didn’t shut down. Though, it seems, the Eagles have.
At least the Eagles did in the first half on Sunday, dropping to 2-3 after losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 23-21.
The Eagles looked out of sync offensively and defensively in the first half—creating a huge hole to dig out of. By the time the Eagles got the ball for their second drive, they had been out-gained 96 yards of total offense to minus-12. It appeared to be a portent of things to come.
They went three-and-out on three of their first five drives. On the other two drives, one resulted in a Jake Elliott 30-yard field goal, thanks to a 48-yard reception by Shelton Gibson, and on the other end when Linval Joseph took a fumble 64 yards for a touchdown and a 10-3 lead with 4:12 left in the first half.
If it wasn’t dropped passes, it was faulty blocking. Lane Johnson got beat—and beat badly—by Vikings’ defensive end Stephen Weatherly, whose inside route collapsed the pocket from the edge and slammed right into Wentz.
The ball popped free from Wentz’s hands and right into the hands of Joseph, who appeared to need an oxygen mask as he went down the sideline untouched for a go-ahead score.
The Eagles’ first-half woes were compounded by defensive tackle Michael Bennett’s low tackle on Cousins with :36 left. Bennett’s 9-yard sack was wiped out by a personal foul call, and the half-the-distance penalty placed the ball on the Eagles’ 11. Two plays later, Cousins hit Adam Thielen with a 3-yard scoring play and a Vikings’ commanding 17-3 halftime lead.
On their first five offensive drives, the Vikings reached the red zone four times. The first half could have been far worse if not for two missed Dan Bailey field goal attempts.
By halftime, the Eagles had been out-gained 208-91, with the Vikings churning out 13 first downs to the Eagles’ four. Wentz was 7 of 11 for 89 yards in the half, and sacked twice for minus-20 yards. The Eagles were only able to muster 22 yards rushing. Wentz finished completing 24 of 35 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Wentz was also sacked three times for minus-28 yards.
The Eagles seemed to get themselves right on the first drive of the second half. But more mistakes cost them. Running back Jay Ajayi fumbled the ball away at the Minnesota 6 on the Eagles’ first drive in the second half. The Eagles lead the NFL with 13 fumbles, and lost 7 of them.
When Dan Bailey nailed a 52-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 23-14 lead with 2:47 left, Lincoln Financial Field began thinning out.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham’s fumble recovery at the Vikings’ 30 with 10:03 left to play. The Eagles, however, did nothing with the turnover.
Receiver Alshon Jeffery’s 8-yard reception on fourth-and-one at the Vikings’ 20 with 12:49 to play. The play set up the Eagles’ first TD, when Wentz hit Wendell Smallwood with a 12-yard TD pass.
Cornerback Jalen Mills batted down a pass on third-and-three at the Eagles’ 19 with 5:06 left in the first quarter. It forced the Vikings to a 37-yard Dan Bailey field goal with 5:02 left in the first. Mills later came through by breaking up a few passes midway through the third quarter, and the Vikings threatening to blow the game wide open.
Defensive end Brandon Graham beating Minnesota tackle Rashod Hill for his first sack of the season, a three-yard sack at the Vikings’ 17. Graham later took down Roc Thomas for a 2-yard loss at the Eagles 4, helping forcing a third-quarter field goal.
Wide receiver Shelton Gibson’s nice mid-air adjustment on a 48-yard reception at the Vikings’ 19. The Eagles had to settle for a 30-yard Jake Elliott field goal with 12:27 left in the half.
Cornerback Ronald Darby’s tackle on Roc Thomas for a 1-yard loss at the Eagles’ 27 in the second quarter.
Running back Wendell Smallwood’s 23-yard, third-down reception for the Eagles’ first third-down conversion of the game. It came on a third-and-seven at the Eagles’ 30 with 12:59 left in the third quarter. Smallwood later hauled in a 12-yard TD pass from Wentz with 12:05 to play. Smallwood later stretched out for a 2-point conversion to make it 20-14.
Quarterback Carson Wentz 13-yard intentional grounding penalty with 9:23 left at the Vikings’ 40.
Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill losing Vikings’ tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 17-yard gain on a third-and-one with 5:09 left. It set up Bailey’s 52-yard clinching field goal.
Left tackle Jason Peters’ false start with 3:26 left in the half.
The Eagles’ vaunted pass rush in the first half was feeble. They couldn’t get to Cousins, who carved up the Eagles for 150 yards on 20 of 24 completions.
Right tackle Lane Johnson getting beat badly by Stephen Weatherly on an inside rush that knocked the ball loose from Wentz. Linval Joseph was there to pluck the ball from the air and rumble 64 yards for a touchdown and 10-3 Vikings’ lead with 4:12 left in the half.
Running back Jay Ajayi fumbling the ball at the Minnesota 6 on the Eagles’ first drive in the second half.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett’s low tackle on Kirk Cousins with :36 left in the half. The 9-yard sack was wiped out by a personal foul call on Bennett, and the half-the-distance penalty placed the ball on the Eagles’ 11. Two plays later, Cousins hit Adam Thielen with a 3-yard scoring play and a Vikings’ commanding 17-3 halftime lead.
Mills getting torched by Adam Thielen for a 68-yard reception on the Vikings’ first play of the second half. The play came right after the Vikings recovered Ajayi’s fumble at the Minnesota five.
Left guard Isaac Seumalo getting blown off the ball on the Eagles first play.
Doug Pederson’s choice to toss to Josh Adams on the Eagles’ second drive on third-and-one from the Eagles’ 34 with 3:01 left in the first quarter.
Smallwood missing a pass from Wentz on third-and-three at the Minnesota 12 with 12:27 left in the half.