By Justin Thomas
The Eagles and Vikings came into Sunday expecting a defensive matchup. The Vikings came into the NFC championship game in the most remarkable way possible. The previous week the Vikings defeated the Saints on a miraculous touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs. On the play Saints’ rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle which allowed Diggs to catch the ball and run down the sideline for the game winning score as time expired. The Eagles came into this game riding a lot of momentum after knocking out the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. Although the game wasn’t the prettiest, Nick Foles showed he could manage and run the offense efficiently enough to win. Jake Elliot had 3 field goals in that game. The buzz around Philadelphia in the week leading up to the game is something Eagles fans haven’t experienced since 2004, the last time the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl.
It was a dream start for the Vikings however, as they came out the gate firing. A nine play, 75 yard drive which ended in a 25 yard Case Keenum touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. Subsequently silencing a rocking Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles first drive consisted of 1 first down but that was it as they had to punt. The Eagles were able to shift the momentum however as Patrick Robinson intercepted Keenum and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. After a Vikings punt the Eagles marched down the field on a methodical 12 play, 75 yard drive capped off by a LeGarette Blount 11 yard touchdown run. The teams exchanged punts on multiple possession until the Vikings drove down the field toward the end of the half threatening to score. However the Eagles defense came up big again as Derek Barnett stripped Case Keenum and Chris Long recovered the fumble ending what was a lengthy Minnesota drive. The Eagles offense capitalized on the turnover as Foles found a wide open Alshon Jeffrey for a 53 yard touchdown to go up 21-7 with just over a minute left in the 1st half. The pass came on 3rd down which is key because the Vikings had the best 3rd down defense in the league. After forcing a quick punt out of Minnesota the Eagles raced up the field to tack on a 38 yard field goal as time expired in the half to go up 24-7. Foles’ was anything but a game manager in the 1st half as he threw for 208 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles started the 2nd half with the ball and basically picked up where they left off in the 1st half. Foles led the offense on an 8 play, 75 yard drive ending in a 41 yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. The Vikings looked like they would counter with a touchdown of their own but Keenum’s touchdown pass to Thielen on 4th and goal was overturned as the ball hit the ground. The Eagles offense then did what they had been doing all game and that was march down the field on the Vikings defense. This time Foles found Jeffrey on 3rd down for his second touchdown of the game. The big thing in the second half was how stifling the Eagles defense was. Shutting down the Vikings playmakers such as Diggs and Thielen.
It was a monster game on both sides of the ball for the Eagles. Nick Foles threw for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns and had a passer rating of 141.4. And although the Eagles defense gave up over 300 yards of offense they made the key plays when they mattered forcing 3 turnovers (and a few turnover on downs). Two of which happened in the redzone. The turning point in the game came when Barnett stripped Keenum as the Vikings were threatening to score before the half. With the win the Eagles are just one win away from bringing home the 1st Superbowl in franchise history. However it will be a daunting task as they will be up against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots . This will be the 2nd time the Eagles and Patriots will face off in the big game. They last met in 2004 where the Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21. One thing is for certain though