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The offensive drive for Minnesota not only resulted in points for the Eagles, but also saw the Vikings lose Stefon Diggs, the hero of the divisional round, to a back injury, at least temporarily. The wide receiver appeared to be ok after taking a knee to the back on an incomplete pass, but he was removed from the game as the team helped him get back to his feet.
Eagles can’t answer Vikings’ opening score.
The Eagles looked aggressive on their first drive of the game, but when they were asked to answer a quick 7-0 deficit, they ended up punting.
Philadelphia started from its own 25-yard line and Nick Foles started off with an 11-yard completion to Nelson Agholor. He went deep to Torrey Smith on the second play of the drive, and very nearly pulled out a huge gain, but Smith couldn’t hang on to the ball.
Foles recovered to get one more completion to Agholor, this one going for 6 yards, but on 3rd-and-4 Trey Burton, who was wide open, could not land in-bounds on a ball thrown to him, resulting in the punt.
Keenum has Vikings looking sharp at the start.
The Vikings did almost anything they wanted on the opening drive of this game. Case Keenum gave his team a 7-0 lead with a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph that left the Eagles looking flat-footed. Latavius Murry and Jerick McKinnon combined for 27 yards on the ground during the scoring drive, keeping the Eagles from being able to pressure Keenum, and the journeyman quarterback took advantage of that by tearing them apart, completing all three of his passes for 48 yards and the score.
Here are the top story lines for the N.F.C. Championship game:
• The Vikings are favorites to win in the N.F.C., and it is with good reason considering the offensive downturn Philadelphia took when Carson Wentz was lost for the season. But it is relevant that Minnesota is dealing with two significant injuries that could affect today’s game plan. Adam Thielen, Minnesota’s most consistent wide receiver, and Andrew Sendejo, a safety who is a key member of the team’s fantastic secondary, are both expected to play, but it is not clear if they will be at full speed. Thielen had been questionable for most of the week with a lower back injury while Sendejo has been working to get cleared from the N.F.L.’s concussion protocol.
• Nick Foles’s productivity at quarterback in place of Wentz will be a huge topic of conversation for the Eagles, but Philadelphia’s best bet at continuing to defy expectations could be for their fantastic front-seven to bring Minnesota’s Case Keenum down to Foles’s level. Keenum thrived during the regular season, but it is worth noting that up until Stefon Diggs pulled off perhaps the unlikeliest game-winning touchdown in playoff history, Keenum had a fairly pedestrian day against New Orleans with 257 passing yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Keenum has a harder task this week against a Philadelphia defense that will put a great deal more pressure on him.
• The Eagles may be underdogs at home, but that did not stop the Philadelphia police department from preparing for what could happen if the team manages to pull off an upset and qualify for its second trip to the Super Bowl in the last 37 years. Those preparations included spreading Crisco on many of the city’s light poles to prevent postgame revelers from climbing them.
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