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Unsung Heroes Provide Big Plays For Defense In NFC Title Win

Posted Jan 21, 2018

By 6:40 p.m., the players were tired of the message drilled into their heads.

“All week, we just kept hearing everybody say that they (the Vikings) were the No. 1 defense but I guess everybody forgot they were coming to Philadelphia,” linebacker Nigel Bradham said. “I know one thing, in this house we’re the No. 1 defense, and it’s going to stay that way.”

Sunday’s 38-7 steamrolling win makes it back-to-back playoff games that the defense has shut out the opposition in the second half. With 10:20 remaining in the first quarter, the Vikings scored their first and only points of the night.

“The one thing about this defense is they don’t panic. They don’t panic. They didn’t panic all year,” defensive end Vinny Curry said. “And that’s just a hat tipped to the players, to our defensive coaching staff.”

“We had to make a play because they drove right down and scored and if we didn’t have belief in ourselves and a little toughness, you might’ve thought, ‘Aw man, this is going to be a long night,'” said defensive end Chris Long. “But we know what we’re capable of as a defense, as an offense, as a football team. On defense, we had to go out and make a big play and create a big turnover.”

Long bothered quarterback Case Keenum on a throw that led to Patrick Robinson’s 50-yard interception return for a touchdown which gave Philadelphia the jolt they needed. On the night, the Eagles forced three turnovers. A strip-sack from Derek Barnett on a third down in the second quarter robbed the Vikings of one of their few red zone opportunities. An interception from safety Corey Graham with minutes remaining solidified the second-half shutout.

“These football games, you just have to weather the storm early in the game,” head coach Doug Pederson said during his press conference following the win. “There’s a lot of emotion going on both sides, obviously, and credit Minnesota for going down (on the) opening drive and scoring. Then to get the interception, the touchdown. To kind of get ourselves back into the game, we just kind of got to settle down. Once you ride that wave of emotion it becomes football after that. We knew talking even on the sidelines that we had to kind of stop their run just a little bit, and then we had to stick with the run offensively and make plays as the game went on.”

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