MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a scene all too familiar for Eagles fans.
Quarterback drops back, throws a pass down the right side of the field. Cornerback Asante Samuel picks it off and returns it for a touchdown.
At least this time, it helped out the Eagles.
Samuel intercepted a Tarvaris Jackson pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter as the Eagles knocked the Minnesota Vikings out of the playoffs with a 26-14 win in an NFC wild card matchup Sunday at the Metrodome. It was the fourth time in Samuel's career that he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown in the playoffs. No other player in the history of the NFL has returned as many interceptions for touchdowns in the postseason as Samuel.
"I was just reading the keys," Samuel said after the win. "I saw the quarterback was getting ready to throw. I was staying with my man hip-to-hip and made the play. My man Chris Clemons made a heck of a block to get me into the end zone." Photo Gallery : PHI vs. MIN 1-4-09
With 6:43 left in the first half, Jackson dropped back and felt the heat from defensive end Trent Cole. Jackson looked for Sidney Rice along the sideline and let the ball go. Samuel read the play perfectly, grabbed the ball and was off to the races. Defensive end Chris Clemons provided the key block just before the goal line as he lifted Jackson into the air and slammed into the ground.
"All I saw was the quarterback get lifted in the air and I ran it," Samuel said.
Samuel did the very same thing against the Eagles as a member of the New England Patriots in November 2007. On the second play of the game, quarterback A.J. Feeley dropped back and threw the ball to Brian Westbrook in almost the same area of the field. And just like he did on Sunday, Samuel returned that interception 40 yards for a touchdown to pace the Patriots to a 31-28 win.
On the opening day of free agency, the Eagles signed the Pro Bowl cornerback to a lucrative six-year contract. The addition of Samuel paid off dividends as the Eagles finished the season ranked third in pass defense. Samuel finished with 40 tackles, four interceptions - one of which was returned for a touchdown in the Monday night win over Cleveland - and was rewarded with his second straight trip to Honolulu.
One day, Samuel wouldn't mind seeing his bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He hopes that his new NFL record will help build his case.
"Hopefully, that'll get me in the Hall of Fame one of these days," Samuel said.
Right now though, Samuel is helping build a trophy case for the Eagles as they will now travel to the Meadowlands for a third battle with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. And he's helping build that case pick, by pick, by pick.