Mark Craig's Five Extra Points

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 2013 - 11:03 PM
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Jared Allen of the Vikings hauled down Eagles quarterback Nick Foles for a 10-yard loss in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com,

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1. Foles commits most costly penalty

The Eagles had a season-high 94 yards in penalties. The 18 most costly yards came when quarterback Nick Foles was flagged 15 yards for a peel-back block that negated DeSean Jackson’s touchdown run off a reverse on fourth-and-1 midway through the second quarter. The Eagles ended up settling for a field goal. The rule, which prevents an offensive player from turning toward his own end zone and blocking below the waist, is one of the league’s newer ones designed to promote player safety. “I knew it was a foul right away,” said linebacker Erin Henderson, Foles’ target on the block. “They’re trying to get that stuff out of the game because there’s no place for it. Maybe he’ll get the fine this week instead of a defensive player always getting it.”

2. Sack battle is on, but Allen has edge as long snapper

Jared Allen’s two sacks were on third down and one of them came in the red zone to force the Eagles to settle for a field goal. But the two-time NFL sack king can’t shake cohort Brian Robison, who also had two sacks to maintain his tie with Allen as the team leader (nine). “It’s one of those deals where I guess the student is trying to beat the master now,” Robison said. Allen hasn’t finished with fewer than 10 sacks or not led his team since 2006. There is one thing, however, that Allen can do that Robison can’t: long snap. Allen filled in on one punt snap when Cullen Loeffler went to get X-rays on a badly swollen hand that had been stomped on. Allen’s snap was a little high, but pretty good for an emergency snapper. Loeffler, whose X-rays were negative, returned after that. “I attempted [long snapping] once and it didn’t go so well,” Robison said.

3. Eagles panicked over Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson never touched a kickoff, but his mere presence was more than enough to, well, freak out the Eagles. Not counting the onside kick near the end of the game, the Vikings fielded five kickoffs. All of them were pooch kicks designed to avoid Patterson, who leads the league in kick-return average (33.3) and kickoff return touchdowns (two). While the Eagles avoided giving up a touchdown to Patterson, the Vikings still got an average starting point of their 34-yard line. “We were concerned with Patterson, obviously the best returner in the league,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “He has returned one 109 yards for a touchdown, so he’s going to take it out no matter how deep it is.” After the Eagles made it a 27-22 game late in the third quarter, they pooched a ball that tight end Chase Ford returned 15 yards to the 46-yard line. That set up a relatively easy 54-yard backbreaking touchdown drive.

4. No. 4 tight end? No problem

Sunday was a showcase day for Vikings depth. And no play better illustrated that depth than the 37-yard pass to No. 4 tight end Chase Ford on third-and-14 from the Eagles 42-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, No. 3 running back Matt Asiata scored his second of three TDs to give the Vikings a 34-22 lead. Ford was on the Vikings practice squad until being promoted on Oct. 26. With Kyle Rudolph on IR, John Carlson out because of a concussion and Sunday’s starter Rhett Ellison held without a catch, it was Ford who came through with a catch over the middle at a time when the Vikings were in danger of a meltdown. “The play they called, it was pretty much me against the Mike [middle] linebacker,” Ford said. “I could go over the top or underneath. I chose to go underneath and made the right call.”

5. Welcome back, Harrison

Free safety Harrison Smith returned after eight weeks on injured reserve because of turf toe and tied for the game high in tackles with eight. One of them was a key stop along with Chad Greenway of LeSean McCoy on third-and-1 from the Eagles 24-yard line in the third quarter. The Eagles went for it on fourth-and-1 and failed. “It felt good out there,” said Smith, who had six solo tackles. “Obviously, the first half I felt real rusty. And just winded. Some of the guys were laughing at me. But once I got my second wind and kind of calmed down and got the excitement out, it starting feeling like it always has. It’s just like riding a bike.”

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