The Minnesota Vikings fell to 5-1 Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, losing their first game of the season, 21-10, in a messy affair, marked by eight total turnovers between the two teams. The Vikings defense, which had been best in the league at keeping opposing points off the board, allowed an uncharacteristic 21 points, a season high, while Minnesota’s offense just could not keep up.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer called the performance of the offense and special teams units “embarrassing.”
“It was embarrassing in at least two of the phases,” Zimmer said, “and I’m very disappointed in the performance that we gave today.”
Zimmer was especially disappointed in the offensive line after they allowed Sam Bradford to be sacked six times and hit 12 times by the Eagles’ defense.
“We didn’t block anybody,” Zimmer said. “We were soft. We got overpowered.”
The Vikings outgained the Eagles on offense, but could not turn the yardage advantage into points as they fell short Sunday. The Eagles celebrated their win against the league’s last remaining team on Twitter as well, reminding the 1972 Dolphins that their mark as the lone undefeated season in the Super Bowl era still stands.
You're welcome, '72 Dolphins.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 23, 2016
Minnesota averaged just 70.6 yards per game entering Sunday’s game, the worst mark in the NFL, and its rushing attack actually exceeded its average, as the Vikings mustered 93 rushing yards against the Eagles’ middle-of-the-road rushing defense. Jerick McKinnon rocked his “RIP Harambe” cleats, leading the Vikings rushing attack with 55 yards while splitting carries with Matt Asiata.
Life did not go much better for Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ passing game. Bradford had a rough go of it against his former team, accumulating just 224 yards, throwing an interception and a touchdown against an Eagles defense that entered Sunday allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards per game. The INT Bradford threw Sunday marked the first time he threw a pick all season.
Zimmer made the decision to keep Bradford in the game after he was slow to get up after taking one of many hits from the Eagles’ defense. Zimmer said he wanted Bradford, and the rest of the team, to keep fighting.
“I want them to learn how to fight under pressure,” Zimmer said. “So you know what, stay in there and fight. Get the guys to block for you and let’s go.”
The Vikings’ defense made the Eagles’ work difficult on offense, and while it may have looked ugly, the Eagles were still able to score. The Eagles tied their season low of 239 yards from last week’s game vs. Washington, totaling the same number against the Vikings. The Vikings held Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz to just 138 yards, the lowest total of his young career.
After a scoreless first quarter with five consecutive turnovers at one point, the Eagles’ offense picked up, scoring 18 of their 21 points in the second and third quarters in what ultimately proved to make the difference Sunday. After throwing no touchdowns in Week 6 vs. Washington, Wentz threw his first touchdown of the game in the third quarter, a 5-yard pass to Dorial Green-Beckham.
The Vikings’ success rested on the shoulders of a defense that has not allowed more than 16 points prior to this week. Despite still forcing two interceptions and a fumble recovery, the Vikings defense still could not prevent the Eagles from scoring Sunday. The Vikings allowed 239 yards, but the Eagles made the most of the yards they gained. They had allowed over 300 yards on three occasions and still won, but it was not enough for Minnesota on Sunday. Josh Huff helped the cause on special teams for the Eagles, taking a kickoff back 98 yards for a return TD.
While the offense and special teams, and particularly the offensive line, played poorly against the Eagles, Zimmer said the Vikings aren’t going to make any rash decisions to correct things.
“We need to do a better job,” Zimmer said. “We’re not going to go down the street and pick up a bunch of guys. We need to get these guys better and we need to do it quickly. I’m disappointed that we allowed that to happen.”
While the Vikings may have fallen to 5-1 due to a particularly abysmal performance from their offense, they still hold on to sole possession of the division lead in the NFC North. They will look to start a new winning streak next Monday night in Chicago against the Bears.