PASSING OFFENSE: C — Daunte Culpepper was efficient for someone who was under siege from the start. He completed 37 of 47 passes for 343 yards, but was intercepted and didn't throw a touchdown pass until hitting Randy Moss from 4 yards out with 3:32 left in the game. The Vikings' pass protection was poor before right tackle Mike Rosenthal broke his right foot early in the second quarter. It was worse after Adam Haayer replaced him. And the most disappointing part for the Vikings is Philadelphia did most of its damage using only a four-man rush. Culpepper was sacked four times.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus — Onterrio Smith started because of injuries to Michael Bennett (knee) and Moe Williams (ankle). Smith can be a bruising back, but he was a non-factor on Monday. He was held to 28 yards on 10 carries, fumbled and was stopped for no gain on consecutive carries that started at first-and-goal from the 2. The offensive line also struggled against the run. Even Pro Bowl C Matt Birk was penalized twice for offensive holding, although his second infraction, which negated Culpepper's 11-yard touchdown run, was a questionable call at best.
PASS DEFENSE: C — The Vikings still don't have an interception this season, and CB Antoine Winfield gave up a game-clinching 45-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Terrell Owens in the fourth quarter. The pass rush was minimal for the second consecutive game. And the Vikings still are having trouble getting off the field on third and long. A holding penalty on Winfield on third-and-nine on Philadelphia's opening possession allowed the Eagles to drive for a touchdown and take a 7-3 lead they would never relinquish. The Vikings did recover their third fumble of the season when CB Brian Williams forced a fumble that FS Brian Russell recovered.
RUSH DEFENSE: C — The Vikings weren't overpowered on the ground. They gave up only 91 yards, but the Eagles averaged 5.4 yards per carry. McNabb also made several Vikings defenders look silly on a slippery 20-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a 17-6 lead.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F — Rusty Tillman's group must improve dramatically for the Vikings to have a chance to reach the Super Bowl. Kickoffs and kickoff coverage is pathetic. P Darren Bennett seems to have lost it at age 39. And there's no zip whatsoever either from the punt return or kickoff return units. If there's one place to start, Tillman should focus on kickoffs and kickoff coverage. Aaron Elling was re-signed strictly to handle kickoffs after Morten Andersen failed the first week. Elling was sub-par and the coverage units even worse. The Eagles returned five kickoffs for a 28-yard average, including a 46-yarder. Philadelphia's average starting point for the game was 13 yards better than the Vikings.
COACHING: C — The coaches didn't commit the 10 penalties, turn the ball over twice or fail to reach the end zone on two possessions that included first-and-goal at the 2. But offensive coordinator Scott Linehan definitely has called better games. The offense seemed disjointed from the start. And running the ball three times for 1 yard after having first-and-goal at the 2 was a mistake. With the 6-4 Moss and the 6-3 Marcus Robinson, the Vikings should have thrown at least one fade route against the Eagles' 5-10 corners. Coach Mike Tice has lost six consecutive road games. To reach the playoffs, he needs to coax better efforts on the road.
Grading the Game: Eagles
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