MINNEAPOLIS -- The Eagles showed the NFL's leader in kickoff returns Cordarrelle Patterson plenty of respect on Sunday.
Instead of kicking the ball deep and risking a potential big return, the Eagles had kicker Alex Henery shorten his kicks and have the ball land typically between the 20- and 25-yard line.
"(Patterson) leads the league in return yards. We tried to keep it out of his hands. The same thing on punts. We tried to keep it out of (Marcus) Sherels' hands," Henery said. "That was the game plan going into it and we stuck with it. Just like offense, defense, anything, you stick to the game plan. "
Henery added that the Eagles didn't want to risk a mis-hit and end up watching Patterson sprint the distance. Patterson has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season, including a 109-yard return against Green Bay on October 27 which tied the NFL record for longest score. The Eagles were wary a week after the Lions' Jeremy Ross returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the Snow Bowl.
"Don't put it in the hands of one of the best returners in the NFL right now," said safety Kurt Coleman, who injured his hamstring on the opening kickoff of the second half. "He's done a phenomenal job with the ball in his hands. We tried to keep it out of his hands as much as possible and make everyone else beat us."
Did the dynamic rookie break off a big return? No. However, the Eagles sacrificed field position in the process of the 48-30 loss to the Vikings. The average starting field position for Minnesota was 13 yards better than the Eagles. The Vikings started, on average, on their own 39-yard line, while the Eagles were backed up to their own 26-yard line. In the second half, the Vikings' worst starting field position following a kickoff was their own 34-yard line.