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NFC PLAYOFFS It's a classic matchup: Vikings 'O' vs. Eagles 'D'



Published: Wed, January 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Minnesota scored 405 points this season; Philadelphia has allowed 260.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- No team in the NFC scored more offensive touchdowns than the Minnesota Vikings. The Philadelphia Eagles allowed the fewest points in the conference.

When the Vikings meet the Eagles in an NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday, it'll be a classic matchup between an elite offense and a superior defense.

"I rank them right up there with Indianapolis and St. Louis," Eagles linebacker Ike Reese said of the Vikings. "They're a quick-strike team. They can beat you in different ways. They run a lot of formations. They're not afraid to put the ball up 40, 50 times a game."

Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper and wide receiver Randy Moss lead an offense that scored 405 points, second in the NFC to Green Bay's 424. But Minnesota had 47 of its 50 TDs on offense, while the Packers got five of their 50 TDs on defense.

The Eagles gave up 260 points, an average of 16.3 per game. That number was inflated by the 58 points allowed by the reserves in the last two meaningless games of the regular season.

Weighing strengths

While Culpepper, Moss, running backs Michael Bennett and Moe Williams and wideout Nate Burleson give the Vikings multiple threats, the Eagles' defense includes defensive end Jevon Kearse and four Pro Bowlers; middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, cornerback Lito Sheppard and safeties Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis.

"We have a strong defense," Reese said. "We don't get in shootouts with anybody. We don't need our offense to score a lot of points."

In the Vikings' 31-17 victory over Green Bay in Sunday's NFC wild card game, Culpepper threw four TD passes, Moss caught two scoring passes and the offense racked up 384 yards. Minnesota had 14 plays of 10 yards or more against the Packers, including a 68-yard TD catch by Williams and TD receptions of 20 and 34 yards by Moss.

"We have to be conscious of not giving up the big plays, keeping everything in front of us," Eagles cornerback Rod Hood said.

Regular season

The Eagles beat the Vikings 27-16 in a Monday night game the second week of the season, despite being dominated on the stat sheet. Minnesota held the ball for almost 38 minutes and gained 410 yards, but settled for three field goals when the game still was in reach. Culpepper lost a fumble at the Philadelphia 1 to end a drive in the first half, and a penalty on Moss killed another drive.

"They thrive on big plays," Reese said. "The key for us is to make them drive the ball down the field instead of scoring in three, four or five plays. We have to get 10, 12-play drives out of them and then hold them to field goals."

Culpepper had the best season of his six-year career, throwing for an NFL-best 4,717 yards, 39 TDs and just 11 interceptions. He'll back up Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb at the Pro Bowl.




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