PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles overcame their doubters and one of the regular season’s best defenses to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday night.
The win means the Eagles move on to the Super Bowl, where the reigning champions, the New England Patriots, await.
Despite ending the regular season 13-3 and heading to the playoffs with the number 1 seed, the Eagles were widely predicted to stutter in the postseason after losing star second-year quarterback Carson Wentz to a season ending knee injury.
But after nullifying the high powered Atlanta Falcons offense last week, Philadelphia showcased its strength on the other side of the ball against Minnesota’s lauded defense Sunday night.
The blowout victory for Philadelphia was led by much maligned backup quarterback Nick Foles, who went 26 for 33 for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Some would have been forgiven for thinking the Eagles would play it safe by turning to their star-studded backfield featuring Jay Ajayi and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount and keep the ball out of Foles’ hands as much as possible.
Faced with the league’s second best rushing defense, Philadelphia beat Minnesota through the air, spreading the workload across the field.
Tight end Zach Ertz led receptions for the home team with 8 catches for 93 yards, while Alshon Jeffery caught 5 for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Torrey Smith added 1 TD off of 5 catches for 69 yards.
After falling behind to an early touchdown from Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Eagles’ again showed that their hugely impressive regular season would not be derailed by Wentz’s injury, scoring 38 unanswered points to hand Minnesota a punishing loss.
Philadelphia’s superiority was obvious throughout, both on offense and defense. This was best illustrated by Minnesota’s three turnovers, one of which led to a defensive touchdown for Philadelphia after Patrick Robinson picked off Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, who finished the game with 28 completions off 48 attempts for 271 yards, one touchdown and two intercepts.
The Vikings, who had defeated the New Orleans Saints in a dramatic last second win last week, will be devastated not to have made a better fight of the NFC title game, a victory which would have meant a shot at the Super Bowl in their own US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
As it is, the Super Bowl will again feature the Patriots, who many pundits’ predict to retain their NFL champions title.
The Eagles will likely welcome being billed as underdogs again, having embraced the tag to great effect throughout the postseason so far.
Super Bowl LII will take place at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.