MINNEAPOLIS -- There were no snow angels to make after Sunday's game. There will be no magazine covers to grace this week. Party planning for the first weekend in January can be put on hold.
The euphoria from one week ago dissipated during a 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, replaced by the realization of a missed opportunity after a five-game winning streak collapsed against one of the NFL's worst teams.
The loss was a minor setback in the team's postseason hopes. The Eagles still control their postseason chances after falling to 8-6, and the Dallas Cowboys' second-half collapse to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon meant the playoff picture in the division doesn't change. But the Eagles could have a guaranteed a win-and-in scenario next week against the Chicago Bears with a different result in Minnesota.
"I said we're going to find out how we are being the favorites and how we respond to that," Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "And we didn't respond to it."
The Vikings entered Sunday with only three wins. They deactivated five injured starters, including Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson. Their starting running back never carried the ball this season before Sunday. Their starting cornerbacks were both backups, including one who could not last on the Eagles roster.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly did not think the Vikings' situation affected the team's thinking, adding, "It shouldn't." Throughout the week, Kelly insisted the Eagles possessed the mental toughness to avoid a letdown game after an emotional victory. Kelly said the Eagles "don't make excuses," and simply did not play well enough to win.
"They scored (48) points," linebacker Connor Barwin said. "I don't know if it was overlooking or (not) taking them seriously or what happened, but whatever we did wasn't good enough going into this game."
No one on the Eagles saw any warning signs of a letdown. The coaching staff reported it was a sharp week of practice. The defense entered the game with a nine-game streak of holding opponents to 21 points or fewer, which was the best mark in the NFL. The Vikings eclipsed 21 by the third quarter.
Playing without Peterson, the Vikings used a pass-heavy offense that dominated an overmatched Eagles secondary. Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings' average starting field position was the 39-yard line because of a decision to kick the ball short of returner Cordarrelle Peterson. The Vikings took advantage of the short fields and scored points on four of the Eagles' six kickoffs.
Despite 475 total yards, Kelly admitted the offense lacked the rhythm of recent weeks. Nick Foles passed for a career-high 428 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but he said he struggled with accuracy at times and Kelly said Foles could have played better.
One week after setting the franchise record for running yards in a game, LeSean McCoy had just eight carries on Sunday. The Eagles had 10 called running plays and 55 called passing play. Kelly attributed it to playing from behind and the matchups in the receiving game.
"The type of competitor I am I want the ball at all costs," McCoy said. "But times like this when we have to throw the ball it really kind of eliminates the running back."
The Vikings entered halftime with a 17-9 lead that could have been 17-13 if a touchdown run by DeSean Jackson off of a fourth-down double reverse was not called back because of an illegal block by Foles. Both Foles and Kelly said it was the right call, and it turned seven points into three points.
The Eagles struggled to begin the second half, when the Vikings scored the first 10 points. The field goal came after the Eagles missed a controversial fourth-and-1 on their own 24-yard line.
"If you can't get half a yard," Kelly said, "maybe it tells you what the day is all about."
Trailing 27-9, the Eagles scored two touchdowns in a three-minute span at the end of the third quarter to cut Minnesota's lead to five points. The first one was a 30-yard pass to Jackson, who finished with a career-high 10 catches for 195 yards. Jackson needed to be restrained during a sideline dispute after Foles' interception.
The second touchdown was a 3-yard pass that Zach Ertz caught one-handed in the back corner of the end zone. But the Eagles could not maintain momentum. Minnesota scored consecutive touchdowns to begin the fourth quarter, and the Eagles could not recover. They were charged with two personal fouls and a taunting penalty in the fourth quarter, part of an undisciplined performance that Kelly said will be addressed.
Because of the Cowboys loss, the Eagles landed in Philadelphia in the same situation as they were in when they awoke on Sunday. But they no longer have the momentum of a winning streak. Kelly's message to the team was the same as it was when the team fell to 3-5 after its last loss.
"We didn't play well enough to win today, but we need to stick together," Kelly said. "That's what we did at 3-5, and that's what we'll continue to do if we're going to finish this off the right way."
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