Given a lead to start the game, the defense could not hold it as the Eagles scored 17 unanswered points in the first and second quarters. Once again, the Vikings rushing defense was stout, holding the Eagles to just 2.4 yards per carry on 26 attempts. But Donovan McNabb had little trouble dissecting the pass defense en route to a passer rating of 103.1 for the game.
LDE Kenechi Udeze had a somewhat productive day going against big Jon Runyan. He finished with two official tackles, including a sack (-2) of McNabb late in the third quarter. He also had another quarterback pressure. The sack ties him for the team lead this season with 4.
NT Pat Williams was very disruptive as he recorded seven tackles on the day, including a hand in two tackles-for-loss. He was also the key cog in stuffing at least three other running plays at the point of attack. The Eagles struggled to block him all afternoon.
UT Kevin Williams didn’t show up as much on the stat sheet, with just three tackles, but he was equally disruptive. He got a good push on the pass rush at times and once again drew a lot of double-team blocking, which opened up some lanes for the linebackers.
RDE Ray Edwards continues to play hard on each and every down. He finished with three tackles, but provided a pressure on one play in which he knocked big Tra Thomas back into McNabb as he threw. He pressured McNabb, as well, on another play. He also chased running back Brian Westbrook down from behind clear across the field for just a 2-yard gain. His other tackle resulted in a 2-yard loss when he dropped Westbrook behind the line of scrimmage.
Brian Robison and Jayme Mitchell saw second-wave duty at defensive end. Robison did not record any official stats but applied some pressure on a couple plays. Mitchell came down the line for a tackle on a short gain on Westbrook on one play.
DTs Spencer Johnson and Fred Evans got some reps inside. Johnson had one tackle on an inside run by Westbrook. Evans took down McNabb from behind when he was forced to scramble. He also jammed things at the point of attack in short yardage another time.
DE Erasmus James (shoulder) was inactive.
MLB E.J. Henderson was in on 10 tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. The Eagles were able to isolate Henderson one-on-one covering a wide receiver on one big play (for 50 yards) downfield to Greg Lewis on a play in which he did not get much help from the safeties. He also had a critical 15-yard facemask penalty in the third quarter on a drive that resulted in an Eagles field goal. Nevertheless, Henderson was active and reliable as a tackler.
WLB Chad Greenway was in on five tackles but was otherwise fairly quiet. No glaring mistakes and no noticeable impact-type plays.
SLB Ben Leber had two tackles, including a sack of McNabb in the third quarter. He also registered a quarterback hurry on another pass rush of McNabb.
LCB Antoine Winfield had a lot of tackles (11) to lead the team, but also gave up a lot of completions (at least six) for somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 yards, including a 30-yard completion to Reggie Brown on a foolishly reviewed play on the sidelines that led to the Eagles’ first touchdown. Winfield did break up three passes and showed tight coverage on at least one other incompletion. He also knifed in to team with Pat Williams for a 5-yard tackle-for-loss against the run. Pound for pound, Winfield remains one of the finest open field tacklers in the game.
RCB Cedric Griffin showed tight coverage most of the day, including at least three tight-coverage incompletions in his area. However, he was too tight in drawing a 23-yard pass interference penalty, and Kevin Curtis was able to outjump him for a ball, resulting in a 31-yard gain on another play. He finished with two official tackles.
CB Charles Gordon started as the Vikings opened the game in their nickel defense. Gordon has moved ahead of rookie Marcus McCauley in that role. He was in on two tackles but missed badly in the open field on a short pass to Correll Buckhalter that resulted in a 12-yard gain. It didn’t appear that Gordon was ever exposed in coverage, though.
SS Darren Sharper had a pretty quiet afternoon. He was in on just two tackles and was not involved in the action very often.
FS Tank Williams got his second straight start in place of the injured and inactive Dwight Smith (hamstring). He finished with three tackles and likewise was not a significant factor in the passing game.
Philadelphia’s wide receivers (Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis and Greg Lewis) combined for 13 catches for 244 yards, plus another 23 yards on the interference penalty. That’s simply too much productivity to allow on the outside. A better pass rush is needed, but the corners and safeties have to tighten up on coverage as well. The run defense was once again admirable, though, as Westbrook gained just 46 yards on 21 carries with a longest run of just 9 yards. Three times the defense was able to corral him behind the line for a loss. But McNabb’s 333 yards passing is still too much for a top-level team to allow.
Coming Soon: Special Teams