PASSING OFFENSE: D — Interceptions on back-to-back possessions to start the second half hurt the Vikings' comeback bid. QB Daunte Culpepper had one of his worst games of the season, partly because of Philadelphia's relentless pressure and confusing blitz packages. Culpepper's passer rating of 63.3 was his second lowest of the season. WR Randy Moss caught only three passes for 51 yards and no touchdowns.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The Vikings averaged 4.6 yards per carry, but their 16 carries by running backs were a non-factor. Culpepper ran five times for 25 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown. RB Michael Bennett had a team-high 37 yards on eight carries (4.6). If the Vikings want to become a team that challenges for the Super Bowl, they need a more physical running game.
PASS DEFENSE: D — The Vikings gave up 209 yards and two touchdowns passing in the first half as the Eagles built a 21-7 lead. The other touchdown came on a pass play when WR Freddie Mitchell recovered TE L.J. Smith's fumble in the end zone. The Vikings couldn't pressure QB Donovan McNabb. The only "sack" was for zero yards. McNabb's passer rating was 111.4. The Vikings also had no answer for stopping RB Brian Westbrook in the first half. They tried using linebackers and safeties on him, but it didn't work.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The Eagles were held to 109 yards and a 4.4-yard average. Westbrook averaged 5.8 yards on 12 attempts with a long of 15. The Eagles, however, only ran their running backs 22 times in a game they controlled for nearly three quarters.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Philadelphia's first touchdown drive was only 53 yards because of a 24-yard punt by Darren Bennett. Its third touchdown drive was only 46 yards because of a 58-yard kickoff return by J.R. Reed. On a positive note, the Vikings' first touchdown drive was only 58 yards because of Mewelde Moore's 39-yard kickoff return.
COACHING: D — A botched fake field goal, a clueless defense in the first half and mistakes throughout the game were a snapshot of the Vikings' entire 9-9 season. The Eagles' first three touchdown drives were aided by defensive penalties and blown coverages. Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell made halftime adjustments that enabled the Vikings to hold the Eagles to two field goals and 133 yards of offense in the second half. But it was too late by then. The fake field goal was typical of the Vikings' mental mistakes this season. A play in which Moss was supposed to pretend to run to the sideline before lining up at the last second and catching the Eagles off-guard was botched because offensive lineman Cory Withrow didn't hear the fake field goal call. Withrow is supposed to stay on the sideline when the fake is called so that there is room for Moss on the field. Seeing Withrow in the game, Moss walked off the field, leaving holder and backup QB Gus Frerotte with no receiver to throw to.
Grading The Game: Eagles
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