Eagles D takes step backward

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 17, 2013 at 5:08 pm •  Published: December 17, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — All that progress the Philadelphia Eagles' defense made over two months vanished in one day.

It doesn't mean they're back to the beginning.

Led by Matt Cassel and a third-string running back making his first career start, the Minnesota Vikings scored 48 points against Philadelphia on Sunday.

Cassel exposed the secondary with deep throws, connecting with veteran Greg Jennings 11 times for 163 yards on his way to a 382-yard passing performance.

The Eagles (8-6) hadn't allowed more than 21 points in the previous nine games since Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos scored 52 against them — 38 off the defense and 14 off special teams — in Week 4.

"I think it was a bad day, but I think you always have your strengths and weaknesses," defensive coordinator Billy Davis said Tuesday. "We've said all along we've got so much more to do. This is Year One. We have had a lot of success that probably was unexpected.

"But the weaknesses, nothing has really changed. We just continue to try to get better and better as we go. We did walk into a bad game, a good Minnesota team. We have to learn from it and respond to it. I believe they will respond in the right way."

The defense faced a team missing its best offensive player, reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, and his backup, Toby Gerhart. But Matt Asiata ran for three touchdowns in their absence.

Cassel took advantage of a depleted secondary with six pass plays of 20-plus yards, and several third-down conversions. Cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher struggled along with safeties Patrick Chung and Nate Allen.

The Eagles sorely missed rookie safety Earl Wolff, who didn't play because of a knee injury. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin sustained a concussion during the game.

"I have never coached in a game where we didn't have multiple errors. I don't think anybody has. It just doesn't happen," Davis said.

"There's always the little things you have to tighten up and get better. When you lose, a lot of times the mistakes you make, they're found. You always have to correct them. You have to be really tight in your coverage and your assignment and doing your job."

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