MINNEAPOLIS -- There was plenty of ire directed toward the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line from coach Mike Zimmer and those outside the organization after Sam Bradford was sacked six times and stripped of the ball four times in the Vikings' 21-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
But it's interesting -- and instructive -- to note what Zimmer said late in his postgame press conference when he was asked about his level of concern with the offensive line. He responded, "I’m concerned about the offensive play in general.”
That's a fair way to put it, given the fact the Vikings problems weren't confined to the offensive line on Sunday. Bradford said he needed to take better care of the ball, "especially in traffic when there are other people around," and the quarterback missed some throws he'd hit earlier this season, overthrowing Stefon Diggs on an open crossing route in the second quarter.
<--photo1-->The other concerning item from the game, though, is what the Vikings' pass catchers did when Bradford got the ball to them. A group of skill position players that had dropped just three passes all season, according to ESPN Stats and Information, dropped four in Philadelphia.
"I thought he missed some throws today that he normally makes," Zimmer said. "We dropped balls; it’s hard to win football games when you do things like that."
Here are some other notes and observations from the Vikings' loss to the Eagles:
Matt Asiata, who had two of the four drops, nonetheless turned in an admirable performance, gaining 80 yards from scrimmage on 18 touches and playing a bigger role after Jerick McKinnon turned his ankle on a run in the second quarter. Asiata gained 32 of his 80 yards after contact, adding six on the end of a 29-yard cutback run to extend a drive on third-and-13 at the end of the third quarter. McKinnon was able to come back to the game and sounded confident afterward he'd be able to play against the Bears on Monday night.
Cordarrelle Patterson played 51 snaps and continued to see his role in the offense grow, though the Eagles ran a defender at him several times to take away the bubble screens Bradford has thrown his way in recent weeks. Patterson, who was Bradford's favorite target in the fourth quarter, finished with seven receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown, posting the second-highest single-game catch total of his career. On the play before his 15-yard touchdown, Patterson lined up wide and caught a nine-yard screen from Bradford before hauling in the TD pass on fourth down. He also had another star turn as a gunner, locating one of Jeff Locke's Aussie-style punts and tossing it back to Marcus Sherels at the 2-yard line before it went into the end zone.
Zimmer called the Vikings' performance "embarrassing" in "at least two of the [three] phases," and in addition to the offensive problems, the Vikings had some issues with a group that's been among the league's best this season. Though Locke continued his impressive year, finishing with a 45.3-yard net average, the Vikings allowed a 98-yard kick return TD when Josh Huff surged through a hole between Charles Johnson and Sherels, turnstiling Blair Walsh before he got to the end zone. In the fourth quarter, the normally sure-handed Sherels couldn't field a punt on the bounce, setting up the Eagles' final field goal.
Bradford, who'd attempted just seven passes outside the pocket all season before Sunday, threw five against the Eagles, according to ESPN Stats and Information, as Philadelphia pressured him on two of the five attempts. Asked if he spent less time in the pocket because of the pressure, Bradford said, “Probably a little less, yeah. Obviously it makes it tougher, but I have to find a way to overcome that. I have to find a way to get the ball out quicker and to find completions to keep us on the field.”
How bizarre was the stretch in first quarter when Rodney McLeod's interception of Bradford kicked off a series of five straight possessions with a turnover? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time there were five turnovers in the first 10 minutes of a game since Dec. 21, 1986, in a game between the Bears and Cowboys. It was the first time since a Steelers-Browns matchup on Oct. 18, 2009, that there were turnovers on five straight possessions. "It was definitely kind of strange," safety Harrison Smith said. "I don't know if I've ever seen it."