Normally we do this for regular season games, but for this one. . .since the Minnesota Vikings have not played the Philadelphia Eagles this year. . .we’ll take a look back at the postseason history between these two teams. It has not been a history that has seen the purple cover themselves in glory, necessarily.
One of the popular thought processes going into last week’s game was that the Vikings were going to get an opportunity to go on a bit of a “redemption tour,” with the ability to take out the New Orleans Saints (2009 NFC Championship Game) and the Atlanta Falcons (1998 NFC Championship Game) en route to playing on the first weekend in February. However, the Eagles took the Falcons out last weekend, so that has been squashed. There is a shot at a bit of “redemption” against the Eagles, however.
Because, you see, three times have the Vikings and the Eagles met in the postseason. . .and three times have the Eagles advanced and the Vikings have gone home. All three of those contest came in the rounds preceding the NFC Championship Game.
For the first postseason meeting between these two teams, we have to go all the way back to 1980. (Well, 1981, but it was the 1980 NFC playoffs. You know what I mean.) The game took place at old Veterans Stadium, with quarterback Ron Jaworski leading the Eagles and Tommy Kramer at the helm of the Viking ship. To say that Kramer had a rough day would be an understatement, as he was intercepted five times by the Eagles’ defense on the afternoon. Still, the Vikings took a 14-7 lead into the locker room, and had a 16-14 lead in the third quarter after Jaworski was sacked for a safety. The Eagles, however, finished with a flourish, scoring the game’s final 17 points on their way to a 31-16 victory. The Eagles would go on to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game, but they then lost to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV.
It would be a while before these two teams met again in the postseason, as it happened in the 2004 NFC Playoffs. Coming off of their improbable victory over the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round, the Vikings rolled into Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Eagles, who were the #1 seed in the NFC. The Eagles got out to a quick 14-0 lead on the strength of two Donovan McNabb touchdown passes, and never really looked back. The Eagles got another touchdown on a play that saw tight end L.J. Smith catch a pass from McNabb, get hit by Antoine Winfield, and the ball flew about fifteen yards forward and into the hands of Freddie Mitchell for another Eagles’ touchdown. Philadelphia took a 21-7 lead into the locker room, and didn’t need to do a whole lot more as they went on to a 27-14 victory. The Eagles would then defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game before being defeated by the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
The most recent meeting between these two teams took place at the Metrodome in the Wild Card round of the 2008 playoffs. The 2008 season was a little weird, as the Vikings benched quarterback Tarvaris Jackson a couple of games into the season in favor of Gus Frerotte. Frerotte actually went 8-3 as the Vikings’ starter that year, but was then replaced by Jackson due to injury. The Vikings won the NFC North on the final play of their regular season, a 50-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell to defeat a New York Giants team that, admittedly, was resting players.
Head coach Brad Childress chose to stick with Jackson into the postseason, and in this one Jackson was. . .not good. He completed just 15-of-35 passes for 164 yards and a pick six to Eagles’ star cornerback Asante Samuel. Despite Jackson’s ineptitude, the game was 16-14 in favor of the Eagles at halftime, thanks to two Adrian Peterson touchdown runs. However, the Vikings wouldn’t get any closer. McNabb connected with Brian Westbrook on a screen pass that turned into a 71-yard touchdown, and that basically slammed the door on the Vikings’ hopes as they went on to lose by a score of 26-14. The Eagles would once again advance to the NFC Championship Game after defeating the Giants the next week, but lost to the Arizona Cardinals for the right to advance to Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So, there you have a look at the postseason history between the Vikings and the Eagles. Yes, it might not have the same amount of opportunity for “payback” as a Vikings/Falcons matchup might have, but if the Vikings can knock off the Eagles on Sunday, they’ll get a different monkey off of their backs.