NFL Wild Card Weekend
Monday January 5, 2009
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb celebrates carrying the
game ball off the field after the Birds defeated the Minnesota Vikings
at the Metrodome 26-14. McNabb had another excellent game, completing
23 of 34 passes for 300 passing yards and one big touchdown, a 71-yd
screen pass to Brian Westbrook halfway through the fourth quarter
to extend the Eagles 16-14 lead to a 9-point lead. McNabb was rushed
constantly and was sacked 3 times. he also had a fumble and one INT.
However, his QB rating was a very effective 92.8. He is also now 5-0
all-time against the Vikings, 2-0 in the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles' |
Stats Of The Week
Asante Samuel's INT and TD return against the Vikings broke an all-time
NFL record for most INT's returned for TD's in the playoffs. He now has
4 total with 3 of them with the New England Patriots. The INT was also
his sixth of the postseason, tying him into a tie for 2nd all-time with
Ty Law and behind former teammate Rodney Harrison's seven. DeSean Jackson's
62-yard punt return in the first quarter is longest postseason punt return
by an Eagle in 61 years, since Bosh Pritchard's 79-yarder against the
Steelers in 1947. Jackson added a 30-yard return in the third quarter,
which gave him four returns for 105 yards and broke the Eagles'
single-game punt return record of 101, set in that same 1947 game
against the Steelers. David Akersí four field goals -- from 44, 51, 31 and
44 yards -- gave him 25 career playoff field goals and moved him past George
Blanda and Steve Christie (22 each) for third-most in NFL history. He trails
only Adam Vinatieri (41) and Gary Anderson (32). His 51-yarder broke his own
franchise record for longest postseason field goal. Westbrook's catch is the
second-longest ever by an Eagle in the postseason, behind only Dontť Stallworth's
75-yarder against the Saints in 2006. McNabb's longest previous playoff
completion was a 52-yarder to Greg Lewis in 2004, also against the Vikings.
His longest previous postseason TD pass was a 35-yarder to James Thrash
against the Falcons in their 2002 conference semifinal game. The
McNabb-to-Westbrook 71-yarder is the second-longest TD pass in NFC wild-card
history. The only longer one involved two familiar names -- Jeff Garcia
and Terrell Owens connected on a 76-yarder in the 49ers' win over the
Giants in 2002. That remains the last postseason game that Owens won. Lastly,
Donovan McNabb's 300 yards are third-most in the postseason by an Eagle
quarterback behind only Randall Cunningham's 407 yards against the Bears
in the Fog Bowl in 1988 and McNabb's 357 in the Super Bowl against the
Patriots in 2004.
Strong Defensive Effort Over Vikings |
Leads To Impressive 26-14 Victory.
The Eagles traveled out to Minnesota and played just good enough to win the playoff game under some tough
and loud conditions. In the first half, you could see that the noise was bothering QB Donovan McNabb to
the point to cause some confusion in pass protection. The Vikings defense played great and much better
than I ever would of thought and what most people had figured. They held a dangerous Brian Westbrook to
just 38 yards rushing on 20 carries. Thatís a 1.9 yds/carry average. The other Eagles running back, Correll
Buckhalter had just 2 carries and gained 27 yards (13.5 yds/carry). And even with all the pressure that
the Minnesota front brought to McNabb, hitting the QB time after time, rushing his throws, sacking him 3
times and they even forced a fumble and one INT. But through it all, McNabb fought through all the
adversity and still completed 67.6% of his passes (24-34) and threw for 300 passing yards. The Eagles
offense played good enough to win this playoff game. The Minnesota offense was ineffective most of the
game, but at one point, the team converted 7-of-11 of the third down plays. The Vikings QB Tarvaris
Jackson did not have a really good game, completing only 15-of-35 of his passes for 164 yards. He also
threw one very costly INT that the Eagles Asante Samuel jumped the route of the Viking receiver and
scored his 5th TD return of an INT in the postseason, an all-time NFL record for the playoffs.
E-A-G-L-E-S .... EAGLES
This playoff game was won with lots of big plays. First, you had DeSean Jackson returning punts
(5 of them) for 109 total return yards, including 2 big back-breakers: a 62 yard return in the first
quarter that set up the Eagles first FG. His second big return was a 30-yarder late in the third
quarter that gave the Eagles good field position at the Vikings 40-yd line. Two plays later however,
Vikings DE Jared Allen sacked McNabb for the second time and caused the Eagles QB to fumble the ball.
The ball was recovered by the Vikings. Minnesota trailing at the time 16-14failed to take advantage
of their good fortunes and were forced to punt. It was a great punt by Chris Kluwe pinning the Eagles
at the 4-yd line. But Donovan McNabb came up and made some really nice plays, completing a 12-yd pass
to Jason Avant. Then he found Kevin Curtis for 14 yards. The Eagles eventually were forced to punt,
but not before the offense generated 42 yards and 3 first downs. The Eagles punter in Sav Rocca also
had a big game, punting 4 balls for 44.3 yards average himself. The Eagles defensive front clamped
down again on the Vikings offense, and forced a punt. The Eagles defense really shut down any
offense that Vikings would try to muster in the second half, holding them to just 103 total yards.
Even their star running back failed to rush for 100 yards. Adrian Peterson managed just 83 yards on
20 carries. Take away that one 40-yd TD rush and he would of just had 43 rushing yards.
After that last pump, the Eagles ultimate weapon finally stepped up and made the big play of the
entire game. On their first play from the Eagles 29-yd line, Andy Reid called for a screen pass.
McNabb just beat the blitz on him, and still managed to complete the short pass to Brian Westbrook.
The Eagles back took the pass and cut back and dashed his way through the entire Vikings defense,
then just exploded to the endzone for a big 71-yard back-breaker TD. That made the score 23-14.
After a Tarvaris Jackson fumble, the Eagles kicker David Akers added his 4th FG of the game. This
one went for 45 yards. Then it was just a matter of killing the clock. The Eagles won the second
half on just defense alone just like they did last week against the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles
biggest stars on defense once again came up big. BRIAN Dawkins and Trent Cole both led the way
to victory. Cole led the game with 13 tackles (7 of them solo). And the teamís official leader
and cheerleader, the perennial pro-bowler safety had 6 tackles, a sack and another forced fumble.
He also almost knocked out Adrian Peterson with one of his hardest hits of the season. Dawkins was
flying around everywhere, hitting anybody that moved in purple. Players like Westbrook, McNabb,
Jackson, Samuel, Dawkins and Cole all made the plays to ensure that the Philadelphia Eagles would
need to advance to the NFC Divisional round to face the New York Giants. And donít forget about
the kicker David Akers, who with his 4 FGís passed George Blanda into sole possession of third
place all-time NFL playoff history in field goal kicking. The Eagles are running on all cylinders,
with a good offense, great special teams and a very dominating defense. A defense that ranks 3rd
in the NFL in overall defense. A defense that could lead a team to the Promised Land. And with a
very hungry QB in Donovan McNabb, anything is possible.
Photos From The EAGLES NFC Wild Card Playoff Game
Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson leaves behind a group of Vikings' defenders
on a 62-yd punt return during the first quarter.
Vikings cornerback Marcus McCauley, right, watches as the Eagles wide receiver
DeSean Jackson heads out of bounds after a 35-yard gain on a Donovan
McNabb pass in the 2nd quarter setting up the 2nd David Akers FG.
Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel, left, returns an interception for a touchdown
as Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is blocked by Eagles'
Chris Clemons in the second quarter.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson celebrates his 2nd touchdown
against the Eagles, during the second quarter.
Brian Westbrook steps out of the attempted tackle by the Vikings
Antoine Winfield on a 71-yd TD reception during the 4th quarter.
Eagles' Correll Buckhalter, left, liftsrunning back Brian Westbrook,
second from left, after Westbrook scored on a 71-yard touchdown reception during
the fourth quarter. Joining the celebrates are center Nick Cole (59) and DeSean
Eagles' Matt Schobel, left, congratulates David Akers after Akers
kicked a 45-yard field goal against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter.
Eagles DE Juqua Parker comes away with the ball after recovering a fumble by the
Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson, right, as head linesman John McGrath, left and referee
Tony Corrente, right center, signal that the Eagles have possession, during the 4th quarter.
Click Here To View More Photos From The Eagles Wild Card Playoff Game Victory