The Eagles subdued the Vikings Sunday in a game that didn't cause me any heart palpitations once the offense scored its first touchdown. It helped that Randy Moss was injured and uninterested and that the Vikings are coached by Lenny from "Of Mice and Men" -- "Dur, I am the head football coach. Yes, I am. I have got my pencil right here behind my ear, in case I need to write something down. Duh, when do we get to see the rabbits, George?"
If it weren't for the Vikings' horribly bungled fake field goal in the first half and for Coach Mike Tice's decision in the fourth quarter to go for it on 4-and-22 from the Eagles 25-yard-line (making it basically fourth and goal from the 25, which a very good team could expect to make 5 times out of a 100) rather than try a field goal that would have made it 21-10, the game might have been a lot closer.
As it was, the Vikings self-destructed, aided by an Eagles defense that was solid throughout, led by middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, whom Coach Andy Reid said, in a rare moment of color: "He was out of his mind."
The best and most encouraging part, given concerns about the offense rusting during an extended layoff, was Donovan McNabb, who played brilliantly and spread the ball around the way fans have wanted him to all season. All three starting receivers were involved, catching at least 3 passes each, and L.J. Smith was spotted working the middle of the field. Brian Westbrook was fantastic. The most personally satisfying thing was watching Freddie Mitchell perform like those of us who have been in his corner knew he can. I was disappointed that the athletic play he made to score his third touchdown of the day was (correctly) overturned, a) because it would have given him 3 TDs for the day, which, let's face it, looks really good on paper and b) because it was such a great individual effort, catching a pass inside the 10-yard-line, spinning off one tackle and absorbing another, maintaining his balance and diving for the pylon, losing control of the ball mere inches from the goal line.
Mitchell's second touchdown -- in which the ball bounced into his hands in the end zone after L.J. Smith, crushed by a tackle at the 5-yard-line, did a somersault and spit out the ball -- reminded me of the play against the Giants (I'm pretty sure it was the game in 1990 which we won in a blowout 31-13 at the Vet against the eventual Super Bowl champs) when a short but high-velocity pass from Randall Cunningham for Fred Barnett in the end zone doinked off his chest and Calvin Williams went up to grab it. Both Williams and Barnett were rookies that year.
The Falcons are going to be a much stronger test than the Vikings, but they're probably not as good as the teams that have beaten us in the NFC title game the past three years. I don't care if we lose in the Super Bowl. Just let us get there this year. As Bill Murray said in "Groundhog Day" -- "Anything different is good."