It wasn't pretty, but anytime you knock off a previously undefeated team in Week 7 in the NFL, it's a good win. The Eagles got the job done thanks in large part to a stellar defensive performance against the Vikings, a team that's mastered winning just these types of games. Not on this Sunday though. The Eagles took the lead on a first-quarter kickoff return for touchdown and never trailed from there, which is an A+ performance overall any way you want to break it down.
The education of Carson Wentz continues. The rookie signal-caller completed only 57.1 percent of his passes for 4.9 yards per attempt and a pair of ugly interceptions. It's difficult to place all of the blame on the quarterback when he's constantly under pressure, although the protection seemed to improve as the game progressed, and Wentz just seemed slow to settle in. He got the win, which is the important part.
Ryan Mathews continues to go underutilized as he carried the ball 14 times for 56 yards. Although if he continues to fumble in the fourth quarter like he did for the second time in three weeks, his role might decrease even more. Darren Sproles pitched in three carries for 26 yards as well, and the duo combined to make three receptions for 50 yards. The grade would've been better were it not for the late turnover.
We knew going in there wouldn't be a ton of opportunities for Eagles receivers down the field against a stingy Vikings secondary. Sure enough, Wentz only completed 11 passes to wideouts for only 67 yards. However, with the exception of one drop, the group made the plays they were supposed to, and Dorial Green-Beckham atoned later with a five-yard touchdown. Nothing spectacular, but they got the job done.
It would be unfair to grade the tight ends based on what they had to work with. Zach Ertz and Trey Burton each "dropped" an intended target, but the passes were way off the mark in both instances. And Brent Celek was wide open down the seam for a likely touchdown, but Wentz was under pressure and didn't even have a chance to look his way. Not their fault the quarterback isn't able to get them the ball right now.
This had the makings of another ugly game up front, as right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled out of the gate again with a very early false start. The Eagles gave him the help he needed though, and the unit really came around as a result. Case in point, the Vikings managed just two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits the entire game. And that was with Jason Peters exiting the game in the fourth quarter. The O-line did give Wentz a case of happy feet early on, but it was a quality effort otherwise.
The front four avoided another slow start this week. Brandon Graham hit Sam Bradford five times, one of which caused an interception, while Connor Barwin strip-sacked Bradford, forcing another giveaway — and all those turnovers was in the first quarter alone! The D-line set the tone early and never relented. The push up front to stop consecutive Vikings' rushing attempts with one yard to go from the Eagles' 6-yard line resulted in a turnover on downs and likely sealed the victory.
Even when the Eagles linebackers have performed, they haven't necessarily made an impact. Not the case against the Vikings on Sunday. Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham each had a sack and combined to make four tackles for loss and break up three passes. Along with Mychal Kendricks, who, by the way, tackled well for a change, the linebackers also registered five quarterback hits.
Active game for Rodney McLeod, and easily the biggest of his brief Eagles career. The fifth-year safety recorded an interception, a sack and a forced fumble to go with his six tackles on the afternoon. Strong day for the cornerbacks as well, as Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll and Jalen Mills all broke up passes. Plus, Malcolm Jenkins' transition to corner after the injury to Ron Brooks was seamless thanks to the solid play of Jaylen Watkins filling in at safety.
For the first time in franchise history, the Eagles have kick returns for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. This time it was Josh Huff going the distance from 98 yards out. Donnie Jones was a huge help in the field position battle with a 50.5 yards per punt average, and Caleb Sturgis made field goals of 35 and 21 yards.
The Eagles rarely blitz, but Jim Schwartz realized he could exploit a patchwork Vikings offensive line this week and brought the house. The aggressive approach paid off, as three of the defense's four sacks were by linebackers or defensive backs and Bradford was under siege the whole game. Doug Pederson's game plan for the offense was better this week as well, particularly in the second half when he leaned more on the ground attack. The coaching staff got the penalty epidemic under control as well, as the Eagles were flagged only five times for 33 yards, so a nice job overall.