PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus — Nothing spectacular, or even close, but at least it was an improvement on the futility that Vikings fans were treated to a week earlier in a loss at Dallas. Veteran Kelly Holcomb started in place of Tarvaris Jackson (broken finger) and completed seven of 16 passes for 88 yards with a touchdown. Holcomb left in the third quarter after suffering a neck injury and was replaced by Brooks Bollinger. Bollinger provided the Vikings with a brief spark, completing seven of 10 passes for 94 yards and leading the offense on two field-goal drives. No small feat for this offense. TE Visanthe Shiancoe caught a team-leading five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown after being shut out in the previous two games. WR Bobby Wade added four receptions for 53 yards.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — Adrian Peterson finally got the start ahead of Chester Taylor, but the rookie standout didn't have a very memorable day. Peterson's longest run went for 17 yards, and he finished with 70 yards on 20 carries, marking the second consecutive game and third time this season he has been held under 100 yards. Taylor carried the ball only six times for 19 yards after being listed on the injury report last week as having a groin ailment. The Eagles, like all Vikings opponents, stacked the box each time Peterson was in the backfield in order to make his life as difficult as possible. Peterson can expect to see this type of approach on a weekly basis.
PASS DEFENSE: D — The NFL's worst-ranked pass defense had another poor day, giving up 333 yards against Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. That included four pass plays of 30 or more yards. Eagles WR Kevin Curtis, a player the Vikings pursued heavily in free agency and actually offered more money to than Philadelphia did, had catches of 33 and 31 yards. Greg Lewis got things started in the first quarter with a 50-yard reception to set up a David Akers field goal. As usual, the secondary wasn't the only problem for the Vikings. The lack of a pass rush, especially in the first half, gave McNabb far too much time to find open receivers.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — After giving up more than 100 yards on the ground for the first time this season in a Week 7 loss at Dallas, the Vikings returned to their old ways and surrendered only 62 yards against the Eagles. Brian Westbrook scored a touchdown but was held to a 2.2-yard average (46 yards) on 21 carries. In typical Westbrook fashion, he did catch four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. NT Pat Williams continued to be a force in the middle with seven tackles. Considering how easy it is to pick on the Vikings pass defense, it's a wonder teams try to run at all against this unit.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — K Ryan Longwell made all three of his field-goal attempts from 39, 32 and 48 yards to provide more than half of the Vikings' offensive points. WR Troy Williamson got the bulk of the duty on kickoff returns, averaging 24.8 yards on four opportunities. Peterson was used only twice in those situations in large part because he started at running back. The Vikings probably wished they hadn't used Peterson at all considering the fact he stepped out of bounds with the ball at the Vikings 1-yard line on the opening kick of the third quarter and put his team in terrible field position. Wade continues to have little impact on punt returns and made a questionable decision to field a punt at the 1-yard line late in Sunday's game.
COACHING: D — Despite the fact coach Brad Childress was going against his good friend and former boss, Andy Reid, the Vikings appeared to be flat for much of the game. The lack of enthusiasm was a huge surprise considering Minnesota took a 2-4 record into the game. As far as his coaching, Childress used his two challenges on questionable calls and lost on both. For a guy who has talked about the value of timeouts on more than one occasion, his willingness to throw the challenge flag is a surprise. As has so often been the case since Childress took over, the Vikings got points from their opening drive (those plays are scripted) and then struggled after that.
Grading the Game: Eagles
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