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Out-of-character Special Teams Errors Play Part in Vikings 1st Loss

Special teams had been a strength for the Vikings this season, but the unit gave up a touchdown early and suffered a turnover late against the Eagles in a 21-10 loss at Philadelphia.

The Vikings first points of the day at Philadelphia came off the foot of Blair Walsh.

In its first drive of the second quarter, Minnesota started at its own 20-yard line and moved down the field in search of a score. At the end of an 11-play drive, the Vikings relied on Walsh, who knocked a 48-yard field goal through the uprights to give Minnesota its first three points of the day.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Eagles on Sunday.

Following Walsh's field goal, however, the Vikings kickoff coverage team could not contain Eagles kick returner Josh Huff. Huff fielded the ball at the 2-yard line and managed to duck Vikings tackles and run it 98-yards to the end zone for Philadelphia's first touchdown of the game.

Both teams committed four turnovers. The final of four by the Vikings occurred on special teams.

On fourth-and-5 from their own 10-yard line, the Eagles punted to a waiting Marcus Sherels, who stood near the 50-yard line to field and return the punt. Sherels caught the ball and briefly bobbled it before losing possession. Trey Burton recovered the fumble, and Philadelphia resumed control of the game.

The Eagles recovered three of Minnesota's five fumbles – one by Sherels and two by Sam Bradford.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the touchdown allowed and turnover on special teams were costly parts of the problem.  

"If you're going to do those things, you have no chance to win," Zimmer said.

The Vikings special teams unit once again utilized Cordarrelle Patterson as a gunner on top of his usual kick return duties. Patterson showed great field awareness when he teamed up with Sherels late in the first quarter to keep an Eagles punt out of the end zone. Patterson leapt up, caught the ball in the air and made a backward pass to Sherels, who downed the pigskin at the 2-yard line to give the Vikings an edge in field position.

Patterson also contributed on offense, scoring the Vikings lone touchdown of the game on a 14-yard, fourth-down pass by Bradford inside the final minute.

Jeff Locke averaged 45 yards on four Vikings punts Sunday, including a 50-yard bomb on his first official punt that pinned the Eagles inside their own 15-yard line. On the previous drive, Locke's punt was nullified by a roughing-the-kicker penalty on Philadelphia that gave Minnesota an automatic first down.

The post-bye loss was Minnesota's first of the season. At 5-1, the Vikings remain atop the NFC North division heading into Week 8, when they will remain on the road to face the Bears on Monday Night Football.

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