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Posted: Sunday January 4, 2009 9:33PM; Updated: Sunday January 4, 2009 9:33PM
Adam Duerson Adam Duerson >
INSIDE THE NFL

Report Card: Eagles 26, Vikings 14

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Donovan-McNabb-SI.jpg
Donovan McNabb was 23 of 34 for 300 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' win.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI

Grading out the performances during the Eagles 26-14 wild-card win over the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis ...

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Quarterback: Philadelphia's first drive, when McNabb (23 of 34, 300 yards, one touchdown) thrice avoided sacks at the last second, told the story of the day. The Vikings got to McNabb a few times, but not nearly enough. He stayed upright with some nifty footwork and played a near-perfect game -- lots of precise passes -- considering the space he had. His over-the-shoulder pass to Jackson along the right sideline for 34 yards (which set up field goal number three) was a thing of beauty, both for the throw and for his taking advantage of an out-of-place defender. If he had one bad play on the day it was his deep pass on third-and-short right before the half. Philly was in Minnesota territory and up by two at the time, and McNabb's deep ball was picked off. Grade: A-

Running Backs: Exactly what you'd expect if the Vikings' run-stoppers had been healthy, but a disappointment considering the Vikings' injuries. Brian Westbrook, who was questionable before the game with knee, ankle and rib problems (and who pledged before the game that the Eagles would be aggressive with the run) barely touched the ball until the fourth quarter. His 71-yard screen pass sealed the game, but he was otherwise ineffective as a runner: 20 carries for 38 yards. Correll Buckhalter had the Eagles' only solid run, a 26-yarder right through the teeth of the defense. Grade: C+

Wide Receivers: No one stood out -- but Philadelphia's gotten by like that all year long. DeSean Jackson only caught the one deep ball and Greg Lewis was held catchless. (He may have been affected by a sprained ankle that he suffered in warm-ups.) Jason Avant was a pleasant surprise. One of his best games of the year included five catches for 47 yards and a nasty block on Tarvaris Jackson during the second quarter pick six. Perhaps dictated by Minnesota's pressure, McNabb spent a lot of time throwing to his tight ends (seven catches, 63 yards combined). By that logic Westbrook should've been an attractive target but he only caught two balls besides his score. Grade: B-

Offensive Line: Had problems with the pass rush right off the bat. Left tackle Tra Thomas got absolutely whipped by Jared Allen which forced the Eagles to alter their passing game, keeping receivers and tight ends in to help protect. (On one play both Avant and tight end Brent Celek stayed in to help Thomas.) Lone positive: some splendid downfield blocking on Westbrook's touchdown. Grade: C-

Defensive Line: Trent Cole (13 tackles) played a particularly strong game, including a big stop on third-and-three in the first quarter. He also had the pressure that forced Jackson's pick six. On the down side, Adrian Peterson's 40-yard rushing score went right through the teeth of the line, exactly where they should have expected it on third-and-two. Grade: B+

Linebackers: Stewart Bradley and Chris Gocong get a lot of the credit for holding Peterson to 83 yards, but ultimately it was Gocong coming up empty-handed attempting an arm tackle on Peterson's 40-yard score and Bradley who had a clean look at AP but whiffed on the second. Grade: B-

Defensive Backs: Asante Samuel shook off a hip problem (and a second quarter reaggravation) for the interception and touchdown, but Quintin Mikell and Sheldon Brown each dropped interceptions of their own. Brian Dawkins was a missile: In the first quarter he blew up Peterson (causing the injury and what could have been ruled a fumble). Then a few plays later he flattened Taylor in another head-to-head collision. He also pulled the ball out of Tarvaris Jackson's arm on a third quarter blitz. Mikell had another destructive play in the second quarter, going straight through 315-pound guard Anthony Herrera to catch Chester Taylor by his legs for a loss of one. Grade: A

Special Teams: Sav Rocca's 58-yard punt after the Eagle's first drive was downed at the Vikings' 10, creating an early field position advantage. And DeSean Jackson's 62-yard return in the first quarter set up Philly's first points. David Akers finished four-for-four, all of them from 31 yards or more. Grade: B+

Coaching: It might've been McNabb's call but on third-and-short at midfield Philly threw a deep pass down the left sideline that was intercepted shortly before the half. Clearly they should've gone for the short gain and worked toward a field goal. Andy Reid gets a pass with the win, but you'd be reading something else here had Westbrook not taken one of his limited touches the distance. Grade: B

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