December 29 Philadelphia Daily News:
“Having clinched a playoff berth and won the NFC East Sunday without playing, the Eagles tried to employ the same strategy in their matchup last night with the down-and-out, previously 5-9 Minnesota Vikings. The result was a 24-14 Vikings victory, probably the worst game the Birds have played this season, overall.
So much for winning the first or second seed in the NFC. So much for the bye and the illusion that the 10-5 Eagles, locked into the third seed with a meaningless game to play Sunday at home against Dallas, are a red-hot team entering the playoffs, where they will host the Packers, Giants or Buccaneers, presumably with more alacrity than they showed last night.
Eagles coach Andy Reid, seething afterward, said the snowstorm delay from Sunday night that made this the first Tuesday NFL game since Oct. 1, 1946, had nothing to do with anything.
“They played. We didn’t play,” Reid said.
Sitting around Center City for 2 extra days didn’t seem to bother the Vikings, who bruised Michael Vick’s right quadriceps on the first play of the game, a 14-yard scramble, and gave former Eagles assistant Leslie Frazier a strong boost in his quest to become more than an interim successor to Brad Childress.
Asked about the bye, Reid said: “We don’t deserve it after that performance right there.”
Maybe the larger issues this morning are that the Birds have now played one really good quarter (technically, half a quarter) in their last eight and that their quarterback, despite his final-minutes heroics against the Giants on Dec. 19, is turning the ball over at an alarming rate lately. He also is throwing it much less accurately than he was a month ago, because of all the hits, or because of defensive adjustments, or because he isn’t attending to fundamentals as well as he was early in the season.
Reid said the problem is that Vick, sacked six times by the blitz-happy Vikings, is “getting hit too much.”
“We need to protect him better, and he needs to do better himself,” Reid said.
Judging from the NFC Pro Bowl starting QB’s heavy postgame limp, there is very little chance we will see him play, with nothing on the line, Sunday against Dallas.
“I hurt it on the first play of the game,” said Vick, who definitely slipped fewer big hits than usual last night. “I just tried to tolerate it throughout the game, and I did. I have a strong will to win, and I’ll do anything to win a football game . . . It didn’t affect me . . . I won’t use it as an excuse. It happened. I didn’t come out of the game, so I guess it wasn’t that severe. You’ve just got to take the good with the bad.””
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