Eagles

Eagles vs. Vikings NFC Championship Game Observations and Reaction with Videos

Brian Garfinkel | PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

As the minutes in the fourth quarter ticked down, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie came down to the sideline to dance with the players. The 70,000 rabid fans in attendance started doing the “SKOL” chant, but replaced the word SKOL with Foles. Doug Pederson was doused with Gatorade.

Nobody saw this coming a month ago and two weeks from now, the Eagles have an opportunity to write the greatest underdog sports story of all-time.

And we could potentially be seeing a changing of the guard in the NFL too.

Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns against statistically the best defense in the NFL and the Eagles routed the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 to book their trip to the Twin Cities and Super Bowl LII to take on the mighty Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The Eagles will be underdogs again, the Patriots have opened as a -5.5 favorite.

Foles was 26-of-33 and the Eagles were a magnificent 10-of-14 on third down. Pederson was a step ahead of defensive mastermind and Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer all night. Philadelphia RPO’ed the Vikings to death in the first half, which plays to Foles’ strengths of not making him go through progressions. It got him into a rhythm and as the confidence built, Pederson became more and more aggressive with his play-calling.

The Eagles hadn’t converted a 3rd-and-10 or longer since Carson Wentz suffered his torn ACL, but Foles was able to work the pocket and hit Ertz to move the chains on this 3rd-and-10 late in the first quarter.

Check out this beauty where Foles stepped up into the pocket, pump faked and found Ertz again to convert a 3rd-and-8.

Then the playbook began to open up and Foles launched this 53-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery, who beat the ageless Terence Newman on a double move, late in the first half to stake the Birds to a 21-7 advantage.

The Vikings then went three-and-out and Pederson became so confident in Foles that he let him drive the ball 60 yards in the first half’s final 29 seconds and the Eagles added three before the break to make it 24-7.

The trickery came out in the second half and Foles dropped this dime beautifully into the waiting lap of Torrey Smith on a flea-flicker for a 41-yard score.

And finally, we see Foles get flushed to his right before flipping this 42-yard completion to Nelson Agholor along the right sideline.

It was the 27/2 Nick Foles.

But how can we get this far into the recap without bringing up the sheer dominance of the defense. They put up just as many points as the Vikings did. Case Keenum turned the ball over three times, including this 50-yard pick-six by Patrick Robinson, who was able to haul in the Keenum lollipop after Chris Long came off the edge with pressure.

Keenum was pressured more than any quarterback in the NFL this season, while the Eagles cause the most to opposing signal-callers. Minnesota led the NFL in third down conversion rate and rushing attempts. When the Vikings struggle to generate traction in the running game on first and second down, that’s when they falter. Keenum was able to move the chains early and Minnesota scored on its opening drive, but continuously being put in 3rd-and-longs wound up being a disaster for the Vikes. Derek Barnett essentially came unblocked when a tight end was late coming across the formation to block him and Keenum fumbled the ball with Minnesota driving deep into Philly territory trailing by seven with three-plus minutes to go in the second.

And even when Keenum was put in more manageable third down situations, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz dialed up the right blitz, like this one with Malcolm Jenkins coming off the edge.

The duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were held to under 100 yards, combining for 11 receptions and 98 yards. Ronald Darby blanketed Thielen all night.

New England booked its trip to Super Bowl LII earlier in the day with a comeback 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC title game. The Eagles met the Patriots the last time they reached the Super Bowl following the 2004 season, with New England winning its third title in four years with a 24-21 victory.

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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