The offensive line couldn’t block, Sam Bradford couldn’t protect the football and the defense couldn’t bail them out.
A sloppy, mistake-prone offense and a special teams breakdown left the Minnesota Vikings unbeaten no more and had coach Mike Zimmer fuming despite his team’s 5-1 record.
”Embarrassing is the word, at least in two of the three phases,” Zimmer said after the Eagles beat the Vikings 21-10 Sunday. ”I’m very disappointed.”
Zimmer was especially critical of his offensive line, which is missing starters Matt Kalil and Andre Smith. Jake Long made his Vikings debut, rotating with T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles.
”We didn’t block anybody. They were soft. They were overpowered,” Zimmer said. ”The safety beat the tackle one time and beat the back a couple times. It was basically man-on-man and we got whipped.”
Bradford had no chance against a fierce pass rush. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz used the blitz far more than usual against Bradford and it worked. The result was 19 hits on Bradford, six sacks, two recovered fumbles and one interception.
”They were playing aggressively. They were blitzing a lot. I would, too,” Zimmer said. ”We didn’t pick up anybody, so they might as well.”
Schwartz changed up his game plan because Bradford is familiar with his defense. He faced it every day for a couple of months before he was traded to Minnesota eight days before the season opener.
”We know that Sam struggles in trapped coverage so we wanted to run it a few times,” said safety Rodney McLeod, who had one pick, one sack and one forced fumble.
Bradford, who was 7-7 for Chip Kelly in his only season in Philadelphia, heard boos when he ran onto the field and never appeared comfortable. He overthrew a few receivers, made poor decisions and seemed more concerned with avoiding the rush than keeping his eyes on downfield targets.
He finished 24 of 41 for 224 yards and threw a touchdown in the final minute.
”The way we played was unacceptable,” Bradford said. ”We did a lot of things that we didn’t do the first five weeks. The things we did will prevent you from winning football games. We have to find a way to not turn the ball over. There were too many self-inflicted wounds. We got to fix that and come out better next week.”
The Vikings hadn’t turned the ball over on offense in 310 snaps before a strange sequence in the first quarter where the teams traded giveaways on five straight series.
They couldn’t take advantage after Andrew Sendejo intercepted Carson Wentz’s pass and returned it 16 yards to the Eagles 2. On third down, Bradford tossed his first pick . Minnesota’s next offensive play started at the Eagles 17 after a fumble recovery, but Connor Barwin stripped Bradford on first down and Malcolm Jenkins recovered.
Down 18-3, the Vikings couldn’t even get a yard on third and fourth down from the Eagles 6 early in the fourth quarter.
”We felt like everyone was dead out there,” receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said. ”We couldn’t get anything going. We felt like we had momentum coming in. We were 5-0 and probably had a little bit of a big head, but things happen.”
The turning point came early when the Vikings allowed Josh Huff to return a kickoff 98 yards for a score.
”If you’re going to do all those things, you have no chance to win,” Zimmer said, running down a list of mistakes.
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