By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings had no problem moving the ball in a 48-30 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Mall of America Field.
The Vikings defense kept the prolific Eagles offense off balance and held the league’s leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, to 38 yards on eight carries.
Minnesota did not have either of its top two rushers, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, so they turned to Matt Asiata, who had three NFL carries entering the game. The second-year running back has played primarily on special teams, but on Sunday he ran for 51 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles got back in the game late in the third quarter following an interception by Mychal Kendricks at midfield. The Vikings responded and outscored the Eagles 21-8 over the final 15 minutes of play.
Offense Grade: A
For most of the game, the Eagles had no answer for the Vikings. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave kept the Eagles defense off-balance.
The most important thing the Vikings did was avoid the negative plays. They had just 10 plays of negative yardage and 11 plays of no gain. The Vikings were able to get at least one yard on 71.2 percent of the offensive plays they ran. That allowed them to mix things up and use the entire playbook.
Greg Jennings has developed good chemistry with Cassel. The veteran wide receiver hauled in a career-high 11 passes. He turned those receptions into 163 yards and one 57-yard score.
Quarterback Grade: A
Cassel did a very good job of leading the Vikings offense. He was decisive in the pocket and authoritative with this throws.
He stepped up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush while keeping his eyes down field throughout the game.
The only mistake he made was throwing low on a slant route that hit a defensive lineman. It bobbled in the air and was intercepted before getting to Jarius Wright.
Cassel did his best job in the fourth quarter. He was seven-for-eight as the Vikings extended a five-point lead to 18 points by the end of the game.
Special Teams Grade: B
The units didn’t get a lot of work in. The kickoff return unit produced just a nine-yard average, but was given very little room to run because of pooch and squib kicks. The NFL leading kickoff return never got a chance to touch the ball on any of the five returns.
Marcus Sherels had just one punt return for 13 yards and three fair catches.
Jeff Locke punted just twice with a 48.5 yard average, both got inside the 20-yard line, and kicked so that the coverage unit could hold Jackson to one return for one yard.
Blair Walsh missed his third consecutive field goal of 50-yards or more, but rebounded to make his next two kicks and six extra point attempts.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.