PHILADELPHIA – Dan Bailey atoned for two missed field-goal attempts during the Vikings’ 23-21 victory over the Eagles on Sunday by all but sealing the game with a 52-yard field goal with less than three minutes remaining, a kick that sent Philly fans piling through the exits.
Bailey was no stranger to the Eagles’ home field, having kicked at Lincoln Financial Field for seven games during his seven-year run with the Cowboys.
So, he said, his confidence was not shaken after missing attempts from 28 and 45 yards in the first half before he was asked to seal the game late.
“It was probably the best operation of the night — the snapper, holder and me,” Bailey said. “So it was just a matter of putting it through, and we did that.”
Bailey’s two misses in Philadelphia were his first errors since signing with the Vikings in mid-September. He is 6-for-8 on field-goal attempts with his new team, with his 52-yard kick validating the Vikings’ decision to cut rookie Daniel Carlson in favor of Bailey earlier this season, according to coach Mike Zimmer.
“For him to make that kick is really why we brought him here,” Zimmer said.
Reiff exits, line shuffles
Midway through the second quarter, Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff left because of a nagging foot injury that has bothered him since the Sept. 23 loss to the Bills. The maligned offensive line again turned to Rashod Hill to slide over from right tackle to take his place, with rookie Brian O’Neill stepping into Hill’s spot.
Kirk Cousins felt the heat — taking 11 hits on 43 dropbacks — but the quarterback and the blockers up front deserve credit for limiting the damage to only one sack against the Eagles.
“It was crazy,” Hill said. “But that’s my job. Went over there and held my own. I got kind of rusty at first, but [offensive line coach] Clancy Barone told me just calm down, play your game and trust your feet and your eyes.”
Run game efficient
Coordinator John DeFilippo took a measured approach to the Vikings’ lackluster run game this week. They tried to attack the perimeter of the No. 1-ranked Philadelphia run defense and managed to pick up a season-high five first downs on the ground and ended up with 79 yards on 21 carries. At one point, receiver Stefon Diggs led the Vikings with 25 rushing yards on two handoffs toward the edge.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Cousins said. “Some cases, you have to be smart and not play into their hand by running the ball. I do think when we picked our spots, we were pretty efficient.”
Hughes takes leading role
The Vikings managed to hold the Eagles to 91 yards before halftime despite missing two starters in defensive end Everson Griffen and cornerback Trae Waynes. Solid coverage early, particularly from rookie corner Mike Hughes in Waynes’ position, was a factor.
Hughes practiced all week at Waynes’ left cornerback spot, which helped the rookie focus instead of bouncing between the outside and slot positions, according to Zimmer. Hughes had five tackles, including a run stop on Jay Ajayi for a loss of 4 yards.
“I thought that Mike Hughes played well [Sunday],” Zimmer said. “He was able to practice all week in one position — I thought that was big.”