NFC championship Game: Three takeaways from Eagles' win over Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings had the NFL's best defense all season. The Philadelphia Eagles had the best defense on Sunday.
Philadelphia forced three Minnesota turnovers and rolled to a 38-7 victory in Sunday's NFC championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles will play the New England Patriots, who rallied for a 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, in Super Bowl LII at Minnesota's U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4.
Philadelphia's defense ranked fourth in both yards allowed and points during the regular season and was a big reason the Eagles won three of four after starting quarterback Carson Wentz was lost for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, who had been superb all season, was sacked just once by the Eagles but was pestered all game. Keenum finished 28 of 48 for 271 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
While the Vikings failed to become the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl inside their home stadium, the Eagles will have the same opponent they did in their last Super Bowl when Tom Brady and the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX.
Three takeaways from the Eagles' win over the Vikings
1. Nick Foles picked apart Minnesota's defense - While the Eagles used the run-pass option often in last weekend's 15-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson put the ball in the hands of quarterback Nick Foles this time around.
Foles had his best game in years, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns while completing 26 of his 33 pass attempts. Foles completed just two passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield in the win over the Falcons, but he was able to let it rip agianst the Vikings' top-ranked defense as the Eagles were able to get multiple chunk plays.
Having struggled in the last two regular-season games, Foles completed passes in a variety of ways. He was able to find receivers from the pocket and delivered a strike to Nelson Agholor while on the run late in the third quarter.
Foles' second touchdown pass was a 41-yard bomb to Torrey Smith off a flea-flicker.
The 456 yards and 38 points put up by the Eagles were easily the most given up by the Vikings defense all season. Pederson has put together two excellent game plans to get the Eagles to the Super Bowl and will have two weeks to come up with a game plan for Bill Belichick's Patriots.
"I'm a little speechless right now. This is unbelievable," Foles told Fox Sports. "I'm blessed to have amazing team-mates."
2. Turnovers were key -- It was a great start for the Vikings, who made things look easy on a nine-play, 75-yard opening drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
But the Eagles tied it up after forcing the game's first turnover when Chris Long hit Keenum's arm as he was throwing. The fluttering pass was intercepted by Patrick Robinson, who got a key block from Ronald Darby to help get Robinson into the end zone.
The turnover swung momentum to the Eagles, who grabbed a 14-7 lead on LeGarrette Blount's bruising 11-yard run.
A second Vikings turnover led to another Eagles touchdown. Eagles rookie defensive end Derek Barnett, drafted by Philadelphia with a pick acquired in the trade that sent Sam Bradford to Minnesota, jarred the ball from Keenum on a strip-sack.
The ball was recovered by Long and the Eagles scored when Foles somehow escaped the grasp of Everson Griffen to find a wide-open Alshon Jeffery downfield for a 53-yard touchdown.
3. Eagles offensive line keeps Vikings pass rushers at bay -- While the Eagles defense pestered Keenum for most of the game, Foles was barely touched. Foles was sacked just once and hit only five times as an offensive line that has been without Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters since October did its job.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai has struggled at times while filling in for Peters, but the second-year player from TCU kept Minnesota's sack leader at bay. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had 13 sacks during the regular season and another in last Sunday's win over the New Orleans Saints, had just one tackle on Sunday and zero sacks.
Against a Patriots defense that lacks a dominant pass rusher, the Eagles have to be feeling pretty good about their chances in Super Bowl LII.