The Vikings were on a five-game winning streak and the Eagles had dropped their last two, but both trends were reversed on Sunday in Philadelphia. A feisty Lincoln Financial Field was the site of the Vikings first loss in 2016, as the Eagles came out on top of a 21-10 decision. Here are five takeaways from the loss.
1. Too many turnovers
The Vikings defense did a great job of taking the ball away, doing so four times. They intercepted quarterback Carson Wentz twice, forced him to fumble three times and came away with one of them, and then also took a fumble away from running back Ryan Mathews. Unfortunately, the Vikings offense wasn't able to do much with the extra possessions, scoring only one (late) touchdown on possessions created by defensive takeaways. The Vikings offense entered the week with no turnovers on the season. They leave Week 7 with three of them, plus Marcus Sherels added one when he lost a fumble in the fourth quarter. Sam Bradford threw his first interception as a member of the Vikings when he was hit as he threw a pass to Adam Thielen in the end zone, and then Bradford also fumbled four times and lost two of them. Quarterback pressure was an issue for the Vikings all day and it was the impetus to all but one of the four turnovers.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Eagles on Sunday.
2. The offensive line remains a work in progress
Head Coach Mike Zimmer had pointed words for the performance by much of his team, including the offensive line. To their defense, injuries have ravaged the group and cohesion has yet to be attained because of it. Needless to say, the bye week didn't cure all that ails. The Vikings put recently-signed Jake Long into the rotation and they used Zac Kerin, as well, yes the pass protection still struggled to block an Eagles defense that registered six sacks and had several more hits on Bradford. The pressure prohibited Bradford from operating as cleanly as he had in his four previous starts, plus the Vikings ordinarily-accurate passer missed a few throws he typically makes, according to Zimmer.
3. Patterson keeps contributing
Philadelphia effectively rendered Cordarrelle Patterson helpless as a returner, with five touchbacks on as many kickoffs. But Patterson still found a way to positively impact the game. He downed a Jeff Locke punt on the Eagles 2, and he hauled in seven receptions on seven targets for 67 yards and one touchdown. After a sensational rookie season in 2013, Patterson's contributions were almost exclusively on kickoff returns in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, though, Patterson has continued to earn more opportunities and he's capitalizing on them.
4. Kicking game is in good form
Locke is having the best season of his career and he had another outstanding effort on Sunday with two of his four punts downed inside the 20. The Vikings allowed zero return yards on punts, too, with Locke netting an average of 45.3 on the four punts. Blair Walsh was sharp in Philadelphia, too, hitting from 48 yards into a stiff wind and also converting his lone PAT attempt. There are things to correct on special teams heading into next week, however, as the Eagles ripped off a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second quarter.
5. Even with no sacks, Vikings defense remained stingy
The Vikings failed to sack Wentz, but they still gave the Eagles offense all it could handle. Wentz, off to a great start in his rookie season, was held to a season-low passer rating of 52.4 and he was guilty of three turnovers. The Vikings held Philadelphia's offense to four of 11 (36%) on 3rd downs, one of three (33%) in the red zone and 4.4 yards per offensive play. The Vikings took the ball away from the Eagles on three straight drives to close the first quarter and they got off the field in three plays or fewer in five of the first seven series of the game. It wasn't enough to help the team to a win, but it's good that the Vikings defense didn't take a step back even in defeat.