After a game in the blustery, cold winter wonderland that was Baltimore last week, the Vikings returned home to Mall of America Field on Sunday to face the red hot and NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles. Huge underdogs at home, the Vikings produced a sensational effort in all three phases of the game and upset the visiting Eagles, registering a 48-30 victory and sending the home crowd home in the penultimate game at Mall of America Field.
So what went right for the Vikings in the victory? Here are a few ideas…
Reserves played like starters
The Vikings came into Sunday’s game missing players up and down the starting lineup. They were down to reserves at right guard and running back on offense, and at several spots in the secondary. But those reserves stepped up and played like starters.
On defense, cornerback
Cassel was on fire early, then closed the game
The Vikings offense started fast out of the gate behind sharp play from quarterback
A few key throws for Cassel included: a beautifully thrown pass to
Defense rose to the challenge
Philadelphia came into Sunday’s game with the NFL’s leading rusher and all-purpose yardage player (LeSean McCoy) and with the League’s highest-rated passer (Nick Foles). On top of that, they were a banged up group, as mentioned above. Through the first half, though, the Vikings short-handed defense found a way to stymie the Eagles high-octane attack. The Vikings led 17-9 at halftime, and at that point the Eagles had just nine 1st downs and were already zero for three in red zone touchdowns. As the game wore on, the Eagles eventually started to amass production and points, but it was too little, too late.
Jared Allen and
Masters of field position
The Vikings special teams group has been solid all season and played well again on Sunday. That, paired with a Vikings defense that played perhaps its best game of the season over the first three quarters of on Sunday, gives you an opportunity for great field position. And the Vikings capitalized.
The Vikings average drive start was their own 39 (Philadelphia’s was their own 26), and the Vikings average drive start after a kickoff was their own 34 (Philadelphia’s was their own 24).
Cassel-to-Jennings was magic again
In just a short time together, Cassel and Jennings have developed a tremendous rapport. Their cohesion first became apparent in London when they connected twice for touchdowns en route to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The most recent display of their chemistry came on Sunday against the Eagles. Cassel targeted Jennings 13 times and the pair connected on 11 of those targets for 163 yards and a touchdown.