On a rare occasion, losing your best player can be a blessing in disguise. It was on Sunday for the Minnesota Vikings.
Playing without last year’s MVP, Adrian Peterson, along with back up running back, Toby Gerhart, and starting quarterback, Christian Ponder, the Vikings seemed to be outright underdogs against the surging Philadelphia Eagles, who were looking for their 7th consecutive win.
However, the absence of Peterson allowed the Vikings to dive deep into their playbook and exert a balanced mixture of the pass and run to defeat the Eagles 48-30.
Matt Cassel, who filled in for Ponder, was outstanding. He passed for 382 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cassel’s main target was Greg Jennings, who has patiently been waiting for a breakout game. Jennings had 11 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
The Eagles defense, which had been terrific during the Eagles’ six game winning streak, was picked apart by the arm of Matt Cassel. It was uncharacteristic of the Eagles defense, which heading into the game was giving up an average of 24 points a game. In Minnesota on Sunday, the Eagles’ defensive unit gave up double that amount, as the secondary looked soft throughout the game and the front seven could not seem to contain Cassel. This led to a six-yard scamper into the end-zone by Cassel in the third quarter.
While a loss is way more detrimental to the Eagles right now than it would have been to the Vikings, given their race with the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East, there were still some positive notes to take from this game.
Nick Foles has not skipped a beat since relieving Michael Vick and continues to put up MVP caliber numbers. Although a high volume of passing could be attributed to playing from behind for the majority of the game, Foles threw for 428 yards and three touchdowns, which, nonetheless, are encouraging numbers. With 195 of those yards going to Desean Jackson, who was showing signs of frustration on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, Foles also did work on the ground, rushing for 41 yards.
Thanks to a second half breakdown on the part of the Dallas Cowboys at home against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles remain one game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The Eagles will face the NFC North, leading Chicago Bears, and then head to Dallas to close out the regular season.