Eagles
Vikings
26 - 14 Final
  for this game

Eagles use big plays to subdue Vikings

Jan 5, 2009 - 3:20 AM By Brian Hall PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Asante Samuel is no stranger to coming up big in the NFL playoffs. This season, the Philadelphia Eagles are the beneficiary.

Samuel returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown and Brian Westbrook added a 71-yard touchdown on a screen pass as Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Vikings, 26-14, on Sunday.

It was Samuel's fourth career playoff interception return for a touchdown - the most in NFL history - and helped send the Eagles (10-6-1) into a matchup with the defending champion New York Giants next Sunday in the divisional playoffs.

"That's the biggest time, that's what it's all about, the postseason and trying to get that big win," Samuel said. "I just try to step up, step my game up to another level every time. I've got the opportunity in the postseason. I helped my team out today and we got the victory."

David Akers added four field goals for the Eagles, who split their two games with the Giants this season. But, Philadelphia did earn a 20-14 victory at New York in December, winning four of its last five games to earn a wild card spot.

"You can take it back to D.C., but we go as far back as Cincinnati," Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown said of his team's late-season run following a 5-5-1 start. "We tied Cincinnati and then we lose to Baltimore, the worst losses I have been a part of since I've been here.

"We've had that adversity and we know how to build all that in and we're just using it as fuel to the fire."

Adrian Peterson had 20 carries for 83 yards and two touchdowns in his first postseason appearance for the Vikings (10-7).

"We knew it was going to be a field position game," Minnesota coach Brad Childress said. "Obviously, they got seven points off a turnover. They got three points off a punt return. Playoff football with a nine-point difference, that ends up being it."

The outcome was in doubt until midway through the fourth quarter, when Philadelphia took possession on its 29-yard line. Westbrook then had a convoy of blockers to lead him on a 71-yard touchdown on a seemingly simple screen pass.

"It was the first screen we ran all game and it exploded into the biggest play of the game," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said.

"We weren't able to establish the run, but that screen came at the right time," Westbrook said.

McNabb finished 23-of-34 passing for 300 yards with one touchdown and an interception for Philadelphia. Westbrook totaled 121 total yards, just 38 coming on the ground.

"It's hard to be happy when you give up a big play like that in a crucial situation," Vikings linebacker Ben Leber said. "We did our best throughout the game. You take away that one play and we were pretty solid. It's hard to hang your hat on a good performance when you give up a play like that."

Inconsistent quarterback play continued to plague Minnesota. Also playing in his first postseason game, Tarvaris Jackson fired a committed a costly mistake in the second quarter.

Samuel jumped in front of the receiver on Jackson's sideline pass, intercepting the ball and taking it 44 yards down the sideline for a 16-7 Eagles' lead with 6:34 left in the half.

"You always think its going to be a tough match and might come down to the last play," Samuel said. "You always want to try to make a big play for your team. Hopefully, I can continue to do that."

Jackson finished 15-of-35 passing for 164 yards and one interception.

"I was trying to get the ball out a little early," Jackson said of the interception. "I saw that he was looking at me the whole time. I thought about throwing it on time, but if I threw it early he wouldn't be able to make the play. I threw it too far inside and he was able to make the play."

Philadelphia struck first after rookie DeSean Jackson returned a punt 62 yards to the Vikings' 27-yard line in the first quarter. But, the Eagles offense couldn't move the ball and Akers knocked in a 43-yard field goal.

It was a familiar theme early.

Near the end of the first quarter, Correll Buckhalter took a handoff 27 yards down the sideline to again put Philadelphia in Minnesota territory. Again, the drive would stall, and Akers connected on the longest field goal in the team's playoff history with a 51-yarder as time expired for a 6-0 advantage.

"The balls were good today and obviously you don't have the wind issues as far as blowing it right or left," Akers said. "So, if you make good contact, the ball should travel pretty far. I was thinking around 55 would be a legit chance that you wanted to take as far."

Another explosive play from Peterson put Minnesota ahead early in the second. After a pass interference penalty on third down gave the Vikings the ball in Philadelphia territory, Peterson carried up the middle and then broke left into the open for a 40-yard touchdown run and a 7-6 Minnesota lead.

"It really depends on where they line up," Peterson said. "The hole was there. It was wide open, those guys did a great job pushing their guys out of the hole and opening it up for me."

Akers follow with his third field goal, a 31-yarder, before Samuels' interception on the Vikings' next drive.

Neither offense was particularly strong against the two stingy defenses, with the exception of the big plays by Peterson and Westbrook.

The difference is Westbrook and Samuel now have a rematch with the defending champions next week, something that didn't come as a shock to the veteran Brown.

"I never look past any NFL football team, but I figured we would have a rematch," Brown said.






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  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 6 10 0 10 26
    MINNESOTA 0 14 0 0 14 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: PHI - FG, DAVID AKERS 43 YD, 8:16. Drive: 4
    plays, 1 yards in 1:38. Key plays:
    D Jackson 62-yard punt return to
    Minnesota 27. PHILADELPHIA 3-0
    PHI - FG

    Jan 4 7:51 PM


  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    FG PHI
    DAVID AKERS 45 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 26
    MINNESOTA 14 1:55 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Eagles 26, Vikings 14  4th - 1:55Jan 4 7:44 PM
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  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    TD PHI
    BRIAN WESTBROOK 71 YD PASS FROM DONOVAN MCNABB
    (DAVID AKERS KICK)
    PHILADELPHIA 23
    MINNESOTA 14 6:37 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Eagles 23, Vikings 14  4th - 6:37Jan 4 7:21 PM
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    Eagles 23, Vikings 14  4th - 6:37Jan 4 7:21 PM
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  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 6 10 0 16
    MINNESOTA 0 14 0 14 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: PHI - FG, DAVID AKERS 43 YD, 8:16. Drive: 4
    plays, 1 yards in 1:38. Key plays:
    D Jackson 62-yard punt return to
    Minnesota 27. PHILADELPHIA 3-0
    P

    Jan 4 6:58 PM
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  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 6 10 16
    MINNESOTA 0 14 14 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: PHI - FG, DAVID AKERS 43 YD, 8:16. Drive: 4
    plays, 1 yards in 1:38. Key plays:
    D Jackson 62-yard punt return to
    Minnesota 27. PHILADELPHIA 3-0
    PHI -

    Jan 4 6:11 PM


  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    TD MIN
    ADRIAN PETERSON 3 YD RUN
    (RYAN LONGWELL KICK)
    PHILADELPHIA 16
    MINNESOTA 14 1:51 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Eagles 16, Vikings 14  2nd - 1:51Jan 4 6:01 PM
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  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    TD PHI
    ASANTE SAMUEL 43 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN
    (DAVID AKERS KICK)
    PHILADELPHIA 16
    MINNESOTA 7 6:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Eagles 16, Vikings 7  2nd - 6:34Jan 4 5:50 PM


  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    FG PHI
    DAVID AKERS 32 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 9
    MINNESOTA 7 7:29 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Eagles 9, Vikings 7  2nd - 7:29Jan 4 5:45 PM


  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    TD MIN
    ADRIAN PETERSON 40 YD RUN
    (RYAN LONGWELL KICK)
    PHILADELPHIA 6
    MINNESOTA 7 11:05 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Eagles 6, Vikings 7  2nd - 11:05Jan 4 5:32 PM


  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    FG PHI
    DAVID AKERS 51 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 6
    MINNESOTA 0 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Eagles 6, Vikings 0  End of 1stJan 4 5:19 PM


  • WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
    FG PHI
    DAVID AKERS 43 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 3
    MINNESOTA 0 6:44 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Eagles 3, Vikings 0  1st - 6:44Jan 4 4:57 PM
  • JohnnyFirstTime They gotta give the ball to Peterson and he needs to hold on to it.

    Eagles vs. VikingsJan 4 4:00 PM
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