The Eagles might get to rest before their first playoff game, but they'll be playing in the opening round.

A flat, sloppy, 24-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings means the Eagles are locked into the third seed in the NFC and will host a wild-card game Jan. 8 or 9.

The Eagles had a shot at a first-round bye but needed to win their two remaining games and get help. All of those scenarios went out the window, though, on a Tuesday night when their offensive Pro Bowl stars had some of their worst showings of the season, starting with Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles' game Sunday against Dallas is now meaningless in terms of playoff positioning, giving Andy Reid the option to rest starters who are facing a compressed schedule heading into the postseason.

With games Tuesday night and Sunday, the wild-card game will be the Eagles' third in 12 or 13 days. The Eagles are looking at a matchup against the Packers, Giants, or Buccaneers, depending on how Sunday's games play out.

The Eagles had won six of their last seven games but suffered a letdown against a struggling opponent long eliminated from contention and giving their rookie third-string quarterback, Joe Webb, his first-ever start.

Five Eagles stars were honored with Pro Bowl berths before the game, but none looked the part once play began.

Vick, who carried the Eagles in their recent run of success and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl before the game, opened with his worst half of the year, losing a fumble in the second quarter that was returned for a Vikings touchdown, throwing an interception, and launching at least two other passes that should have been picked off. Under pressure the entire night, often through cornerback blitzes, Vick lost another fumble in the third quarter and finished with his lowest quarterback rating of the year, 74.1.

It was Vick's sixth straight game with a turnover; he has nine giveaways in that span. Vick did not turn the ball over in the first six games he played and had only one game with two turnovers before Tuesday night. The Vikings' score - a 45-yarder by Antoine Winfield - was the second return for a touchdown against the Eagles all season and tied the game, 7-7.

DeSean Jackson, another Pro Bowler, had just two catches for 32 yards. Kicker David Akers might be forgiven for missing a 54-yard field goal but committed a significant error by kicking off out of bounds after the Eagles had pulled to within 17-14. The Vikings turned their good field position into a game-sealing touchdown, a 1-yard run by Adrian Peterson late in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles' defense gave up 118 rushing yards to Peterson, the most they have allowed any runner all season, and could not take advantage of Webb's inexperience. Instead, Webb looked poised and elusive, completing 17 of 26 passes, with no interceptions and no touchdowns.

While it was unusual to see the Eagles' stars struggle, there were other, more familiar problems. The penalties and pass-protection problems the Eagles had overcome in a recent run of success were again evident and this time hurt the team badly.

The Eagles had a whopping 12 penalties for 62 yards. And the offense could not protect Vick, who was hit on cornerback blitzes from the start of the game.

The Eagles scored early in the fourth quarter to claw to within 17-14, but two defensive breakdowns let the Vikings to put the game away on the next drive. With the Eagles needing a stop, Webb hit wide receiver Percy Harvin for 19 yards on a third and 11 from the Eagles' 47. Peterson took a handoff on the next play and went 27 yards, setting up his game-sealing touchdown.

Before that, Vick had begun what might have been another fourth-quarter rally, leading a drive on which they converted a third and 7, fourth and 1 (through a great individual effort by LeSean McCoy), and third and 9. Vick finished the drive with a slick, 10-yard touchdown run, pulling the Eagles to within 17-14.

But, after using fourth-quarter comebacks to win four of their last five games, the Eagles' magic ran out Tuesday night.

Webb made several Eagles miss when under pressure and opened the second half with a pretty, 46-yard throw to Percy Harvin, setting up a Vikings field goal. He scored himself on an elusive 9-yard run that should have impressed even Vick.

After snow pushed the game back from Sunday, the Eagles' loss came on the first Tuesday NFL game since 1946. Based on the ugly results, it's unlikely that any networks will be rushing to make it a weekly tradition. The Eagles, after a sour performance, won't want to be back, either. Their concern now shifts to a first-round playoff game.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

Eagles

By Jonathan Tamari INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The Eagles might get to rest before their first playoff game, but they'll be playing in the opening round.

A flat, sloppy, 24-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings means the Eagles are locked into the third seed in the NFC and will host a wild-card game Jan. 8 or 9.

The Eagles had a shot at a first-round bye but needed to win their two remaining games and get help. All of those scenarios went out the window, though, on a Tuesday night when their offensive Pro Bowl stars had some of their worst showings of the season, starting with Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles' game Sunday against Dallas is now meaningless in terms of playoff positioning, giving Andy Reid the option to rest starters who are facing a compressed schedule heading into the postseason.

With games Tuesday night and Sunday, the wild-card game will be the Eagles' third in 12 or 13 days. The Eagles are looking at a matchup against the Packers, Giants, or Buccaneers, depending on how Sunday's games play out.

The Eagles had won six of their last seven games but suffered a letdown against a struggling opponent long eliminated from contention and giving their rookie third-string quarterback, Joe Webb, his first-ever start.

Five Eagles stars were honored with Pro Bowl berths before the game, but none looked the part once play began.

Vick, who carried the Eagles in their recent run of success and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl before the game, opened with his worst half of the year, losing a fumble in the second quarter that was returned for a Vikings touchdown, throwing an interception, and launching at least two other passes that should have been picked off. Under pressure the entire night, often through cornerback blitzes, Vick lost another fumble in the third quarter and finished with his lowest quarterback rating of the year, 74.1.

It was Vick's sixth straight game with a turnover; he has nine giveaways in that span. Vick did not turn the ball over in the first six games he played and had only one game with two turnovers before Tuesday night. The Vikings' score - a 45-yarder by Antoine Winfield - was the second return for a touchdown against the Eagles all season and tied the game, 7-7.

DeSean Jackson, another Pro Bowler, had just two catches for 32 yards. Kicker David Akers might be forgiven for missing a 54-yard field goal but committed a significant error by kicking off out of bounds after the Eagles had pulled to within 17-14. The Vikings turned their good field position into a game-sealing touchdown, a 1-yard run by Adrian Peterson late in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles' defense gave up 118 rushing yards to Peterson, the most they have allowed any runner all season, and could not take advantage of Webb's inexperience. Instead, Webb looked poised and elusive, completing 17 of 26 passes, with no interceptions and no touchdowns.

While it was unusual to see the Eagles' stars struggle, there were other, more familiar problems. The penalties and pass-protection problems the Eagles had overcome in a recent run of success were again evident and this time hurt the team badly.

The Eagles had a whopping 12 penalties for 62 yards. And the offense could not protect Vick, who was hit on cornerback blitzes from the start of the game.

The Eagles scored early in the fourth quarter to claw to within 17-14, but two defensive breakdowns let the Vikings to put the game away on the next drive. With the Eagles needing a stop, Webb hit wide receiver Percy Harvin for 19 yards on a third and 11 from the Eagles' 47. Peterson took a handoff on the next play and went 27 yards, setting up his game-sealing touchdown.

Before that, Vick had begun what might have been another fourth-quarter rally, leading a drive on which they converted a third and 7, fourth and 1 (through a great individual effort by LeSean McCoy), and third and 9. Vick finished the drive with a slick, 10-yard touchdown run, pulling the Eagles to within 17-14.

But, after using fourth-quarter comebacks to win four of their last five games, the Eagles' magic ran out Tuesday night.

Webb made several Eagles miss when under pressure and opened the second half with a pretty, 46-yard throw to Percy Harvin, setting up a Vikings field goal. He scored himself on an elusive 9-yard run that should have impressed even Vick.

After snow pushed the game back from Sunday, the Eagles' loss came on the first Tuesday NFL game since 1946. Based on the ugly results, it's unlikely that any networks will be rushing to make it a weekly tradition. The Eagles, after a sour performance, won't want to be back, either. Their concern now shifts to a first-round playoff game.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.