NFL notebook

It’s Webb’s and Vikings’ night

Eagles drop rare Tuesday contest

Vikings quarterback Joe Webb, who was playing in place of Brett Favre, is pleased after scoring a second-half touchdown. Vikings quarterback Joe Webb, who was playing in place of Brett Favre, is pleased after scoring a second-half touchdown. (Miles Kennedy/Associated Press)
Associated Press / December 29, 2010

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The Eagles got their bye a week early — and not the way they wanted.

Joe Webb threw for 195 yards and ran for a touchdown in his first career start filling in for an injured Brett Favre, and the lowly Minnesota Vikings stunned Michael Vick and the NFC East champion Eagles, 24-14, in Philadelphia in the NFL’s first Tuesday game since 1946.

Adrian Peterson ran for 118 yards and a score, helping the Vikings (6-9) knock Philadelphia out of contention for a first-round playoff bye.

The Eagles (10-5) could’ve secured a first-round bye with a victory over the Vikings and Dallas and with a loss by either Chicago or Atlanta next week.

“We don’t deserve it after that performance,’’ Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “Every phase was terrible. We didn’t coach well enough. We didn’t play well enough. I’m disappointed in myself. It’s embarrassing.’’

Now the Eagles are locked into the NFC’s No. 3 seed and will host the No. 6 seed on Jan. 8 or 9. Their final game against the Cowboys is meaningless in the standings, so it’s likely Vick and most of the starters will rest.

Two days after a winter storm forced a postponement, there wasn’t even a snowflake visible at the Linc. The game was switched from Sunday because of a howling storm that dumped about a foot of snow in the area — perhaps a good idea considering Philadelphia’s history of snowball-throwing fans.

Vick, selected as the NFC Pro Bowl starter shortly before the game, mostly struggled after his 3-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor in the first quarter gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead. He lost two fumbles, threw an interception and was sacked six times.

Favre was inactive for the Vikings because of a concussion, missing his second game in three weeks after an NFL-record 297 consecutive regular-season starts. He watched in street clothes on the sideline and enthusiastically thrust his arms in the air when Webb scored to make it 17-7.

Saints alive The Falcons’ goals for the regular season — a division title and home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs — remain in reach. What’s been lost is that feeling of invincibility, especially if they face the Saints again in a few weeks.

Drew Brees threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with less than 3 1/2 minutes remaining, and the defending Super Bowl champs clinched their return to the postseason with a 17-14 victory over Atlanta Monday night.

New Orleans (11-4) snapped the Falcons’ eight-game winning streak and stopped them from wrapping up the NFC South and home field all the way up to the Super Bowl.

If the teams meet again in the playoffs, the Saints know they are capable of winning even at the Georgia Dome — a huge psychological boost in late December.

“Here we are, having won seven of eight,’’ Brees said. “It doesn’t matter whether we’re playing on the road or at home. We’re battle-tested.’’

The Falcons (12-3) merely need to beat Carolina (2-13) at home on the final week of the season to wrap up their first NFC South title since 2004 and the top seed in the conference. But this one stung.

The Saints won even though Brees threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, the first of which was returned 26 yards for a touchdown by defensive end Chauncey Davis.

Polamalu in limbo The Steelers probably won’t know until Friday whether safety Troy Polamalu can play in Sunday’s final regular-season game at Cleveland. Polamalu hasn’t played or practiced for two weeks because of an injured right Achilles’ tendon. Coach Mike Tomlin said he won’t practice today or tomorrow . . . Veteran receiver Kevin Curtis, who came back this season from a knee injury and a bout with testicular cancer, was released by the Dolphins . . . 49ers team president and CEO Jed York interviewed Tony Softli as the first known candidate to fill the team’s vacant general manager position, a person with knowledge of the situation told the AP. Softli, a former personnel executive with the Panthers and Rams, met yesterday with York, who fired coach Mike Singletary late Sunday after a 25-17 loss at St. Louis eliminated the 49ers (5-10) from playoff contention, their eighth straight year out of the postseason . . . Union executive committee member Brian Dawkins says he believes NFL owners and players have a sense of urgency to avoid a lockout because they don’t want to alienate fans.

Woman sues Bengals A Kentucky woman says two increasingly intoxicated fans at a Cincinnati Bengals game fell on her, breaking her nose and finger and causing other injuries. Rebecca Dunn and her husband Curtis are suing the Bengals, the beer vendor, and the county-owned football stadium for negligence, alleging they continued to serve alcohol to “noticeably intoxicated’’ fans at a 2009 NFL game . . . The NFL will donate more than $1 million to the American Cancer Society as a result of this year’s breast cancer awareness campaign . . . The Bears’ win over the Jets Sunday led the way to the highest preliminary television rating for the single-game window in the 13 seasons of the current AFC package. The CBS games Sunday averaged a 15.4 overnight rating and 30 share, the best since the network took over AFC coverage in 1998.

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