Rookie quarterback Joe Webb was gracious about the adulation, but he outplayed Michael Vick. Webb was more efficient and took better care of the ball, despite being the rookie on the road making his first NFL start and going against a league MVP candidate. Plus, get three dozen notes that help tell the tale of the game.
Tuesday night's game was made necessary only because the NFL moved it to prime time Sunday from a scheduled noon Central Sunday start. Had the game been played at its originally scheduled time, it would have gone off as scheduled and the Vikings likely would have gotten out of Philadelphia in time to be back in Minnesota instead of returning about 3 a.m. local time Wednesday.
The reason for the switch to Sunday night? The NFL wanted to showcase Michael Vick
, a frontrunner along with Tom Brady
for the league MVP award and fresh off a week in which he sparked a record-setting comeback with 28 fourth-quarter points to beat the Giants. Instead, it was Joe Webb
– the record-setting eighth rookie quarterback to start a game in the NFL this season and the 60th different QB to start in the NFL this season – that was the winning quarterback. The only comparison he was drawing to Brady was that they were both selected with 199th pick of their respective NFL drafts.
But it was Webb who stole the show as the Vikings, who came into the game as a 14-point underdog, pulled out a 24-14 win. He got off to a slow start, but once given a chance to showcase his skills, his second-half performance sparked the Vikings to victory.
Webb was an excellent game manager, completing 17 of 26 passes for 195 yards and using his legs to score a 9-yard touchdown that gave the Vikings a 10-point lead they wouldn't surrender.
Webb got off to a slow start, completing 4 of 7 passes for 28 yards in the first quarter, posting a passer rating of 66.4. Once the first-start nerves subsided, Webb got progressively better. Although the Vikings offense didn't score in the first half, in the second quarter Webb completed 5 of 8 passes for 43 yards, raising his passer rating to 71.8 by halftime.
But, with the game tied 7-7 heading into the second half, Webb took over and asserted himself. In the second half, he completed 8 of 11 passes for 124 yards, raising his passer rating to 87.8 – almost 14 points higher than Vick.
Perhaps most important was what happened in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. The Vikings had a 17-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Vick rallied the Eagles on 12-play drive to score and cut the Vikings' lead to 17-14 with 10:17 to play. The Vikings needed a response. After silencing the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field for the previous quarter-and-a-half, Webb led the Vikings on a 60-yard drive to score a touchdown and give the Vikings a 24-14 lead. Facing third-and-2 with nine minutes to play, he converted the first down with a 6-yard pass to running back Lorenzo Booker
. Two plays, faced with a difficult third-and-11 situation, he completed a 19-yard dart to Percy Harvin
. The Vikings scored three plays later.
To put his night in perspective, in the 13 games Brett Favre
started, his highest passer rating was 76.6 – more than 11 points lower than Webb's. Webb didn't throw an interception Tuesday night. In 13 starts, Favre had just two games in which he didn't throw at least one pick.
Tuesday's game was supposed to be the validating game for Vick's candidacy to be league MVP. Instead, it became a Webb-cast in which the rookie stole the spotlight with the rest of the NFL watching his coming-out party.
"Michael Vick, he's a great player. I've been watching him ever since I've been a little kid," the easy-going Webb said. "Just to be able to be on the same field with him is a blessing. It just went different ways. I don't look down on Michael Vick because of his performance tonight because he's still a great player."
The Vikings had one interception Tuesday, but had three drops on would-be interceptions that could have changed the game earlier, including drops by Lito Sheppard and Frank Walker that hit both between the numbers. When your head coach is a former cornerback himself, that won't look good during film study.
The Vikings-Eagles game was the first time since 1946 that an NFL game was played on a Tuesday night. In that game, the New York Giants beat the ironically named Boston Yanks 17-0.
Week 16 of the 2010 season became the longest NFL week from start to finish. Pittsburgh beat Carolina in the week's first game last Thursday. Week 16 concluded Tuesday night with the Vikings win – six days later. It was the first week in NFL history that games were played on five different days.
With the Vikings' win, the Bears clinched a first-round playoff bye.
The Vikings outgained the Eagles 337-331 despite running 12 fewer plays (71-59).
The Vikings have been one of the league's worst teams on third downs all year. But they had the better of it Tuesday night, converting 6 of 13 third downs (46 percent), while the Eagles made good on just 4 of 11 (36 percent).
The Eagles have the worst red zone defense in the NFL, allowing touchdowns on 30 of 39 opposing drives (76.9 percent) – by far the worst in the league. The Vikings scored touchdowns on two of three red zone chances, actually improving the Eagles' red zone numbers, but the one non-touchdown was a controversial reversal of a touchdown pass to Sidney Rice that was successfully challenged by Andy Reid.
The Vikings outrushed the Eagles 161-107, with the Vikings running 31 times and the Eagles running just 22 times. The Vikings averaged 5.2 yards per rushing attempt. Philadelphia averaged 4.9 yards a carry.
The Vikings had just 24 sacks through their first 14 games, but in Tuesday's game, they notched six sacks.
The six sacks of Vick were the most the Eagles have allowed all season, thanks in large part to consistent blitzing by the Vikings defense.
By the way the NFL rates passers, Webb had a much better night than the Pro Bowler Vick. Vick completed 25 of 43 passes for 263 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 74.1. Webb completed 17 of 26 passes for 195 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 87.8.
Vick may have had more yards than Webb, but Webb was more efficient. Vick averaged 4.6 yards per pass attempt, while Webb averaged 6.3 yards per attempt.
Sometimes penalties have to be categorized – some by quantity and others by length. The Eagles had a whopping 12 penalties for 62 yards, while the Vikings had five penalties for 74 yards – 12 more yards on seven fewer flags.
Adrian Peterson notched the 52nd rushing touchdown of his career, tying him with Chuck Foreman and Bill Brown for the all-time team rushing touchdown list. The amazing part of that stat is that it took Brown 13 years to accomplish the feat and it took Foreman seven years. Peterson has done it in less than four years.
Peterson needs just 33 rushing yards next week to join legendary Earl Campbell as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,300 or more yards and rush for 10 or more touchdowns in each of their first four seasons.
Peterson had 22 carries, the first time since Oct. 31 against New England – a span of seven games – since he had 20 rushing attempts in a game.
Vick led the Eagles with 63 yards rushing and a touchdown on eight carries. Featured back LeSean McCoy was limited to 44 yards on 13 carries (a 3.4-yard average).
Harvin registered his third 100-yard game of the season, catching seven passes for 100 yards.
Sidney Rice caught just one pass in the game, a 16-yard gain that had more yardage attached when cornerback Asante Samuel was penalized for a hit to the head. Rice left the game with a concussion and didn't return.
Harvin had seven catches and 100 receiving yards. The rest of the team combined for 10 catches for 95 yards.
Brent Celek led the Eagles with 10 catches for 97 yards. Jeremy Maclin added six catches for 74 yards.
Star DeSean Jackson caught just two passes for 32 yards, despite being targeted 12 times. Celek was targeted 12 times and caught 10 of them, while Maclin was targeted eight times and caught six of them.
Winfield and Chad Greenway each had nine tackles – eight of them solo.
Winfield led the Vikings with two sacks, but was far from alone. Ray Edwards, Jared Allen, Jamarca Sanford and Letroy Guion were each credited with a sack.
Allen went over 10 sacks for his third straight year with the Vikings and his fourth straight overall.
Husain Abdullah made his third interception of the season, tying him with E.J. Henderson for the team lead.
The Vikings took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 10-0 and outgaining them 132-71.
The Eagles tried to put Jackson in as a punt returner in the second half, but unlike the Giants, Chris Kluwe got the ball out of bounds.
The Vikings challenged a touchdown for the Eagles in the first half, but the call was upheld. What made it ironic was that, in the play before that, the Vikings tried to challenge a pass down to the 3-yard line to Maclin that, upon review, appeared to have been bobbled. However, Leslie Frazier didn't throw the flag until after the ball had been snapped for the next play. "I reached in my pocket and my hands were so cold I just couldn't pull it out, so we ended up not getting that challenge," Frazier said.
Andy Reid won a challenge against the Vikings that could have changed the complexion of the game. On a play that could have been called either way, Sidney Rice came down with a pass and the ball moved as his arm went up when he hit the ground. Ruled a touchdown on the field, the Eagles threw the red flag and the officials overruled the on-field call. It took away a touchdown that would have given the Vikings a 14-7 lead. Instead, they settled for a field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
At halftime, Peterson had just eight carries, but had 52 yards.
Peterson had his first fumble of the season in the second quarter.
On his first five carries, Peterson rushed five times for 14 yards. He had 38 yards on his next two carries.
Antoine Winfield scored the rare quadrangular for a defensive player – getting a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown all in one play.
Webb became just the second Vikings quarterback to win his first NFL start as a rookie. The other was Ron VanderKelen in 1963.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.