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Bleacher Report – Vikings

No fluke: Eagles deserve spot in Super Bowl after whipping Vikings

By Matthew Coller

Every area. Every facet. Every unit. Every quarter. The Philadelphia Eagles whooped the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game. They are the best team with the best coach and they belong in the Super Bowl.

As your favorite analyst breaks down the Vikings’ 38-7 loss on the road, you might hear that this was a trap game. It wasn’t. You might hear that the Vikings were still riding the high from the Minneapolis Miracle. They weren’t. You might hear that they didn’t put in the effort. They did.

They simply got taken apart by the best football team in the NFC.

It’s plausible that a team could get overhyped or have an emotional letdown, but that’s not what happened. On Monday, head coach Mike Zimmer made it very clear that his team was moving on from the magical ending at US Bank Stadium against the New Orleans Saints by ripping his team for its mistakes in the second half. Stefon Diggs didn’t talk to the media Monday, saying he was focused on Philly. Heck, five minutes after the Divisional round game was over, Harrison Smith was talking about the next week.

The explanation for The Broad Street Beatdown was personnel, scheme, home field advantage and injuries.

While optimists emphasized Nick Foles’ shortcomings, they ignored the fact that the Eagles have the best offensive and defensive lines in the NFL.

The defensive line showed up first. After Case Keenum drove the Vikings for a touchdown on his first chance with the ball, Philadelphia turned up the heat on the Vikings’ next drive.

On third-and-8 from their own 43, Eagles pass rusher Chris Long whipped past right tackle Rashod Hill, clipping Keenum’s left arm, forcing a wobbling throw in Adam Thielen’s direction. Patrick Robinson jumped in front of the pass, taking it into the end zone for a touchdown.

The Vikings had a chance to bounce back quickly – as they have so many times this year. Instead they gained five yards on three plays and punted the ball back to Foles.

When Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending ACL tear, it was fair to assume the Eagles were seeing a severe drop off in quarterback play. But on Sunday night, the Foles who threw 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in 2013 showed up – largely because his head coach dialed up an incredibly good gameplan.

The Eagles attacked Andrew Sendejo, who suffered a concussion last week. To cap off a 75-yard touchdown drive, LeGarrette Blount lowered his pads and smashed through Sendejo into the end zone. Philadelphia ran the ball successfully throughout, found open receivers on quick passes and showed no fear of throwing deep.

Where was the pass Vikings’ pass rush? Held up by the NFL’s best offensive line. Foles was sacked once on an incredible effort by Danielle Hunter, but otherwise took very few hits and stepped up into a clean pocket.

Down 14-7 with 3:25 left in the first half, the Vikings had a shot to get back into the game. The remarkable depth of the Eagles’ defensive line showed up again. On third-and-5 from the 16, rookie Derek Barnett, who was selected with the draft pick the Vikings sent to the Eagles for Sam Bradford last year, strip-sacked Keenum.

Foles took advantage again, hitting a deep shot to Alshon Jeffery for a 53-yard touchdown. Xavier Rhodes was out on that drive with a toe injury.

Following another Vikings punt, Pederson played aggressively with 0:29 remaining in the half. Foles hit Zach Ertz down the sideline for 36 yards to set up a field goal as time expired. Ertz burned Harrison Smith – a rare sight from a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Up 24-7, the Vikings badly needed a stop to start the second half. But Foles was channeling his inner Joe Montana on Sunday. Pederson dialed up a flea flicker and Foles dropped a beautiful pass over Trae Waynes to Torrey Smith for a touchdown. At 31-7, there was no shot at a Philadelphia Miracle. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Eagles were leading a mock Skol chant.

The Eagles’ defensive line refused to relent in the second half. They pressured Keenum repeatedly on a drive into Philadelphia territory, which ended with a turnover on downs. Then the Eagles drove 92 yards for another touchdown.

In order to overcome the loss of their star quarterback, Philadelphia needed every fact of their gameplan to click, every star player to perform at their peak and Foles to surprise them with some great throws. All of those things happened. And the Eagles proved they – and not the Vikings – deserve to play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The post No fluke: Eagles deserve spot in Super Bowl after whipping Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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