Final

Eagles 26

(9-6-1, 3-4-1 away)

Vikings 14

(10-6, 6-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:30 PM ET, January 4, 2009

Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN 

1 2 3 4 T
PHI 6 10 0 1026
MIN 0 14 0 014

Top Performers

Passing: D. McNabb (PHI) - 300 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: A. Peterson (MIN) - 20 CAR, 83 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: B. Westbrook (PHI) - 3 REC, 83 YDS, 1 TD

Westbrook's 71-yard TD secures Eagles' victory

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Above the Metrodome's deafening noise, Donovan McNabb stayed poised.

Fast Facts

• Eagles defensive back Asante Samuel set an NFL record with his fourth career postseason interception return for a touchdown, and Brian Westbrook turned a short pass into a 71-yard score midway through the fourth quarter to seal the win.

• Westbrook's catch was the second-longest play from scrimmage in Eagles postseason history, behind only a 75-yard scoring play from Jeff Garcia to Donte' Stallworth against the Saints on Jan. 13, 2007.

• Donovan McNabb threw for exactly 300 yards (23-of-34), his second career 300-yard game in the postseason and first since throwing for 357 yards in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots.

• The Eagles' win was their seventh straight in a playoff opener, the longest active streak in the NFL.

-- ESPN research

• Rapid Reaction

Completing passes precisely when the Eagles needed him to, McNabb repeatedly sidestepped the Minnesota rush and sent Philadelphia to a 26-14 playoff win Sunday after being all but forgotten as a postseason contender just one month earlier.

Next up: the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Brian Westbrook caught a short pass out of the backfield and zigzagged for a devastating 71-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Eagles spoiled the Vikings' first home playoff game in eight years.

Busting Loose

Brian Westbrook's 71-yard touchdown reception was the only significant yards after the catch (YAC) by the Eagles receivers vs. the Vikings. Here's the breakdown:

Westbrook Rest of team
Rec 3 20
Yards 83 217
YAC 79 53

"I've seen this team have confidence in each other and try to have one another's back," McNabb said. "What you're seeing is a team playing with a lot of energy, playing with emotion, and just having fun."

Asante Samuel's 44-yard interception return of Tarvaris Jackson's errant pass in the second quarter set a tone for the kind of game most Vikings fans feared from the unpolished quarterback.

Coach Andy Reid improved his playoff record to 9-6, including at least one win each time the Eagles have qualified in his 10 years. He bested his buddy and former offensive coordinator Brad Childress in this one, and they spoke for several moments on the field after the game while maybe a thousand Eagles fans cheered around the tunnel entrance and began a derogatory chant toward the Giants.

"I think we're dangerous," Samuel said. "We've just got to see how it plays out."

Philadelphia will play next Sunday in New Jersey against the top-seeded defending champs, where they won 20-14 on Dec. 7, putting Arizona in the other NFC semifinal Saturday at Carolina and sending the Vikings home.

Jackson, who lost his job in September but got it back when Gus Frerotte was hurt, went 15-for-35 for 164 yards. Adrian Peterson's two touchdown runs weren't nearly enough for NFC North champion Minnesota, which will head to yet another offseason with burning questions about the quarterbacks.

"You know, this game sticks with you," Childress said. "You hate to serve up seven points. You have to take that out of your repertoire."

Here We Go Again

The Eagles victory over the Vikings sets up a playoff showdown with the Giants for the second time in three years and fourth time in postseason history. Here's a quick look at those games:

Eagles vs. Giants,
Postseason Meetings
Game Site Winner
'08 NFC Divisional New York ?
'06 NFC Wild Card Philadelphia Eagles 23-20
'00 NFC Divisional New York Giants 20-10
'81 NFC Wild Card Philadelphia Giants 27-21

Westbrook couldn't find any room to run, finishing with 38 yards on 20 carries even with two starters (Ray Edwards and Pat Williams) missing on Minnesota's defensive line. But McNabb, who went 23-for-34 for 300 yards, kept the offense from derailing.

He tossed a ball toward his always-reliable running back at just the right time with the Eagles clinging to a two-point lead after a scoreless third quarter. Westbrook received a slew of well-timed blocks as he slalomed downfield for the clinching touchdown.

"Anytime that you get an opportunity to give the ball to a guy like Westbrook, give him an opportunity in space or against any other defenders, you feel confident about that matchup," McNabb said. "Time and time again, you give him an opportunity he makes plays for you."

Stability at quarterback almost certainly would have given the Vikings another win or two, and perhaps a first-round bye. And despite a drastically better December, Jackson showed he's still quite raw.

His one big mistake really hurt, an underthrown out route to Sidney Rice that Samuel read perfectly and picked off for a 44-yard return and a 16-7 lead.

"I think we rattled him kind of toward the end," defensive end Trent Cole said. "He had to get rid of the ball quick and move around. He was probably getting tight from a lot of pressure."

McNabb wasn't perfect. He threw an interception, lost a fumble in the third quarter and took an 8-yard sack to push the Eagles out of David Akers' field-goal range. But the Vikings didn't capitalize on the turnovers and left plenty of receivers open in the middle of the field -- particularly Jason Avant and tight end Brent Celek -- for McNabb to target.

Philadelphia Eagles Minnesota Vikings

NFL.com Video

Watch highlights from the Philadelphia Eagles' 26-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

He guided the Eagles out of dangerous territory twice in the second half, starting drives at their own 5 and their own 4 and chewing up precious time even though they ultimately punted.

"Whoever said that guy can't move still is a liar," Minnesota's Jared Allen said. "He was running around out there quite nice."

Though he was benched briefly in November, before the Eagles won four of their last five to sneak into the playoffs, McNabb set a franchise record for yards passing this year and helped Philly make the postseason for the seventh time in nine years. There were some bad games, but he's still in the league's upper crust of quarterbacks.

"Donovan did a great job today leading this team. Basically putting the team on his back," Westbrook said.

He added: "That's what you expect from a superstar quarterback like Donovan."

Jackson snapped back after his big mistake, throwing a pair of first-down passes on the next possession to put Peterson in position for a 3-yard, slicing run to pull Minnesota within 16-14.

But the Vikings couldn't get any rhythm in the second half. Peterson didn't have any more holes, and the Eagles applied plenty of pressure to keep Jackson from bouncing back.

DeSean Jackson, the slithery rookie Childress reverently referred to this week as a "human pogo stick," led the Eagles to six of their 16 first-half points. He returned a punt 62 yards -- a big weakness for the Vikings -- to set up the first field goal by Akers, and caught a 34-yard pass up the sideline preceding another three-point kick.

The only short field the Vikings had came after Allen, who had two of their three sacks, knocked the ball out of McNabb's hand and gave them the ball at their own 46. But they promptly went three and out, and soon after came Westbrook's big catch and run.

The Eagles brought the blitz, and Jackson just had no answer.

"You don't want to be down two scores in the fourth quarter to those guys," Vikings center Matt Birk said. "It's like blood in the water for them."

Game notes


Jackson had 109 yards of punt return yardage, to just 1 yard by the Vikings on four Eagles punts. ... Peterson had 17 yards on eight carries after halftime. ... The Vikings lost S Darren Sharper to a sprained ankle in the second quarter. ... Akers went 4-for-4 in his field-goal attempts.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PHI
MIN
1st Downs1516
Passing 1st downs
139
Rushing 1st downs
25
1st downs from penalties
02
3rd down efficiency
5-148-18
4th down efficiency
0-00-0
Total Plays6070
Total Yards350301
Yards per play5.84.3
Total Drives1213
Passing283153
Comp-Att
23-3415-35
Yards per pass
7.64.3
Interceptions thrown
11
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-171-11
Rushing67148
Rushing Attempts
2334
Yards per rush
2.94.4
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-11-1
Penalties7-554-25
Turnovers22
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
11
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession27:5432:06

Passing Leaders

PHIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
McNabb23/343008.8113-17
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Jackson15/351644.7011-11

Rushing Leaders

PHICARYDSAVGTDLG
Westbrook20381.9010
Buckhalter22713.5027
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson20834.2240
Taylor12484.0011

Receiving Leaders

PHIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Westbrook38327.7171
Celek6569.3019
MINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Taylor5367.2010
Berrian23618.0027

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERPHIMIN
phiFG6:49David Akers 43 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, 1 yds, 1:38
30
phiFG0:02David Akers 51 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 42 yds, 2:36
60
SECOND QUARTERPHIMIN
minTD11:14Adrian Peterson 40 Yard Run (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 78 yds, 3:55
67
phiFG7:38David Akers 31 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yds, 3:36
97
phiTD6:43Asante Samuel 44 Yard Interception Return (David Akers Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 6 yds, 0:55
167
minTD1:55Adrian Peterson 3 Yard Run (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 64 yds, 4:43
1614
FOURTH QUARTERPHIMIN
phiTD6:53Brian Westbrook 71 Yard Pass From Donovan Mcnabb (David Akers Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 71 yds, 0:00
2314
phiFG2:00David Akers 45 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 20 yds, 0:54
2614