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Pro Football Focus: Eagles Spoil Bradford’s Return, Destroy Vikings

By SIMON BRADY

One of the strangest game’s in the NFL that you’ll see all season came in week 7. The previously unbeaten Minnesota Vikings went into Century Link Stadium to take on the now 4-2 Philadelphia Eagles. In a statement win, defense carried the day for the Eagles and they ultimately came out victorious 21-10.

Despite losing three of their most vital offensive players — in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (No.5), running back Adrian Peterson (No. 28), and left tackle Matt Kalil (No. 75) — to injury, the Vikings have had a stellar start to their season as they’ve taken full command of the NFC North.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have enjoyed a surprising start to the season themselves. With first year head coach Doug Pederson and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz (No.11) seeing his first action, not much was expected out of the Eagles this season. However, with outstanding defensive play like Minnesota, combined with incredible poise and maturity shown by Wentz, Philadelphia is 4-2. The Eagles had dropped the previous two games after starting out 4-0 and were looking to bounce back.

In one of the more interesting subplots to this game, Vikings starting quarterback Sam Bradford returned to Philadelphia where he played last season. Despite an unsuccessful season last year, Bradford was set to start for the Eagles again this year. However, in a weird sequence of events involving both teams, Bradford ended up playing for the purple and gold just as the season was set to begin.

In a non contact drill during training camp, Vikings’ solidified starter Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and ACL tear that will keep him sidelined this entire year. In need of a quarterback following the injury, Minnesota gave the Eagles a 2017 first round draft pick and an additional 2018 draft pick for Bradford. The move by Minnesota, that many questioned, has paid dividends as Bradford has played well up this point. On the flip side, the Eagles have moved on from Bradford, and Wentz has played quite well through six games.

Bradford would face his first true adversity against his former team Sunday afternoon. “The city of brotherly love” ironically showered their former quarterback with “boos” as he took the field.

The game got off to one of the whackier starts you could imagine. The two teams totaled five turnovers in the first quarter alone. This hasn’t happened in an NFL game since a Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in 2005. For the first time this season the two brand new quarterbacks made crucial mistakes for their respective teams early in the game.

Starting Place Kicker Blair Walsh (No.3) broke the scoring drought with a 48-yard field goal early in the 2nd quarter that put the Vikings on top 3-0. On the ensuing kickoff, however, fireworks began. Eagles kick returner Josh Huff (No.13) flew 98 yards to the end zone for the score, giving them a lead the Vikings wouldn’t come back from.

The defensive battle continued from that point, as the calling cards of the two teams shined. Field goal kicker Caleb Sturgis (No.6) extended the Eagles lead to 11-3 with a 35-yard field goal as the first half concluded. This is the first time in NFL’s ninety-six year history that a game had a score of 11-3 at half. A stat that definitely brings the odd nature of Sunday’s game to light.

The stifling defense and sloppy offensive play would continue on both sides in the second half. However, the Eagles would break that trend with a nine play, 47-yard touchdown drive capped off by wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham’s (No.18) five yard catch from Wentz. This would put Philadelphia ahead comfortably 18-3 with 5:45 left to go in the third quarter.

A Sturgis 21-yard field goal with 6:09 left in the contest would officially put the game out of reach as the Eagles took a commanding 21-3 lead. The Eagles would win the game in decisive fashion 21-10.

It’s safe to say the Eagles came into this game with a chip on their shoulder playing their former quarterback who’s been getting nothing but praise around the league for spearheading a 5-0 start to the season.

Turnovers were the story of Sunday’s game as each team had four on the day. The Vikings turnovers ended up being more costly in the end as Bradford’s offense could never get going like they had in previous weeks.

Bradford ended the day 24 of 41 passing with 224 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and one fumble. On the other side Wentz completed 16 of 28 passes for 138 yards and the Green-Beckham touchdown. He had two interceptions and a fumble of his own.

The Vikings get a great opportunity to bounce back from Sunday’s tough loss this Halloween night as they take on the abysmal 1-6 Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, following the win for the Eagles, a showdown is set for this Sunday night as the Eagles enter AT&T Stadium to take on their division foe, the Dallas Cowboys.

With the Cowboys impressive 5-1 start behind the play of stellar rookie quarterback Dak Prescott (No.4) and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott (No.21) coupled with the NFL’s most stout offensive line, this will definitely be one of the more fascinating matchups to this point in the season. The winner of Sunday Night Football will be in the driver’s seat for a potential playoff berth, and to take first place in the NFC East.

Simon Brady can be reached at simon.brady@spartans.ut.edu

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