‘Un­cle!’ Sam Says

Ea­gles beat up for­mer QB Brad­ford, hand Vik­ings first loss

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Maaddi

A strong de­fense can only do so much.

Josh Huff re­turned a kick­off 98 yards for a touch­down, Car­son Wentz out­played Sam Brad­ford and the Philadel­phia Ea­gles handed er­ror-prone Min­nesota its first loss, 21-10 on Sun­day.

The Vik­ings re­lied on ex­cel­lent de­fense and a mis­take-free of­fense to start 5-0. But the Ea­gles ex­posed sev­eral of their weak­nesses.

An of­fense miss­ing both start­ing tack­les and run­ning back Adrian Peter­son — not to men­tion QB Teddy Bridge­wa­ter — had big trou­ble against Philadel­phia (42). Brad­ford was pres­sured all game and strug­gled for the first time in five games for his new team.

“We turned the ball over, we didn’t block peo­ple, we dropped balls, we got the quar­ter­back hit, we gave up a 98-yard kick­off re­turn , we fum­bled a punt,” coach Mike Zim­mer said. “So if you’re go­ing to do those things, you have no chance to win.”

The Vik­ings have to fig­ure things out quickly be­cause they sud­denly don’t look like the team to beat in the NFC North. They play at Chicago (1-6) next Mon­day, and then four of their next five op­po­nents have a win­ning record with the other game against Ari­zona.

Mean­while, the Ea­gles got back on track af­ter two straight losses. They have a first-place show­down at Dal­las (5-1) next Sun­day night, and their next five op­po­nents have win­ning records.

Here’s what we learned from Philadel­phia’s win over Min­nesota:

BLITZ­ING BRAD­FORD

Ea­gles de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jim Schwartz used the blitz far more than usual, and it worked. The re­sult was 19 hits on Brad­ford, six sacks, two re­cov­ered fum­bles and one in­ter­cep­tion. Brad­ford seemed more con­cerned with avoid­ing the rush than keep­ing his eyes on downfield re­ceivers.

“We knew traps would give him in trou­ble,” LB Con­nor Bar­win said. “We knew when he gets pres­sure he likes to get the ball out­side right away. And so we brought some of that pres­sure.”

CAR­SON’S GROWTH

Wentz had a rough first half, throw­ing two in­ter­cep­tions af­ter only one pick in his first five games. He also missed some open re­ceivers. But the No. 2 over­all draft pick set­tled in nicely and led a cou­ple scor­ing drives.

“Car­son played well, played ef­fi­cient, made some good throws,” coach Doug Ped­er­son said. “He seems to get bet­ter each and ev­ery week. I don’t want to over­load him, ob­vi­ously. I think he’s in a good spot men­tally with the of­fense, and we’ve just got to keep build­ing on what we’ve be­gun with him.”

Ped­er­son took a point off the board af­ter a rough­ing penalty on the Vik­ings against Caleb Stur­gis and went for the 2-point con­ver­sion. Wentz ran it in up the mid­dle on a draw. Ped­er­son then went for fourth-and-2 from the Vik­ings 44 with 1:21 left in the first half. Wentz gained 6 yards on a keeper and the drive ended with Stur­gis making a 35-yard field goal for an 11-3 lead.

“For me, it was an easy sit­u­a­tion and I had trust in our guys,” Ped­er­son said.

LINE TROU­BLES

Min­nesota’s of­fen­sive line, miss­ing starters Matt Kalil and An­dre Smith for the rest of the sea­son, had more prob­lems. T.J. Clem­mings and Jeremiah Sir­les started and newly signed left tackle Jake Long ro­tated in. His Vik­ings de­but was for­get­table: Long al­lowed two strip sacks .

“We need to do a bet­ter job,” Zim­mer said. “We’re not go­ing to go down the street and pick up a bunch of guys. We need to get these guys bet­ter and do it quickly.”

HOME-FIELD DOM­I­NANCE

The Ea­gles are 3-0 at home for the first time since 2014, when the team opened with six straight wins at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field. They’ve outscored the Steel­ers and Vik­ings 55-13 in the past two games.

MICHAEL PEREZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vik­ings quar­ter­back Sam Brad­ford (8) is tack­led by the Ea­gles’ Jor­dan Hicks dur­ing the sec­ond half Sun­day in Philadel­phia.

MICHAEL PEREZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ea­gles receiver Do­rial Green-Beck­ham, right, cel­e­brates his touch­down with Jor­dan Matthews dur­ing the sec­ond half against the Vik­ings, Sun­day.

CHRIS SZAGOLA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Ea­gles’ Rod­ney McLeod, left, tack­les Vik­ings’ Adam Thie­len dur­ing the sec­ond half Sun­day.

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