MINNEAPOLIS - Trent Cole didn't know how many yards Minnesota Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson had gained.
He knew how many yards the Eagles wanted to limit the NFL's leading rusher to, but at this
moment, that number was way back in his mind.
What Cole knew was that a week ago, the Eagles were in
a similar situation against the Chicago Bears, and nobody on the defense stepped up to make a play.
As a result, the Bears drove
97 yards in less than 2 minutes and delivered a crushing, last-second loss to the Birds.
So yesterday, the Eagles led the Vikings by a touchdown
with 5 minutes left.
Minnesota reserve quarterback Brooks Bollinger had
completed a 19-yard pass to Bobby Wade, and the Vikings were near midfield with momentum.
Then they handed the ball to Peterson. Cole blazed by Minnesota's massive left tackle, Bryant McKinnie, and hit Peterson just as he started to make a cut.
The play resulted in a 6-yard loss. On the next play, Eagles
defensive end Jevon Kearse sacked Bollinger.
A play later, Minnesota punted and didn't get the ball back until there were only 15 seconds left in their 23-16 loss.
"Big plays and get off the field," Cole said of his tackle of Peterson. "Last week, we didn't do that. You're looking for somebody to step up and make plays - me, anybody. Somebody has to make a big play and get [the defense] off the field."
In a game where a lot of Eagles defenders played well, Cole had the type of game that stood out.
It wasn't just that he had a team-high eight tackles and
two of the Eagles' four sacks,
he made the type of impact plays that help win ballgames.
It started early, when the
Vikings recovered an onside kick after taking a 7-0 lead on their first drive.
With the sold-out crowd at the Metrodome rocking, Cole got by McKinnie and dropped Vikings starting quarterback Kelly Holcomb for a momentum-killing, 9-yard sack.
Two plays later, Minnesota, which started the drive near
"I don't know what to tell you," said Cole, who now has nine sacks on the season. "You have to be a natural pass-rusher and get it done.
"It's also practice and preparation that starts from the offseason and through camps and into games."
Preparation was also what led to Cole's huge tackle-for-loss of the dynamic Peterson.
The Eagles knew the key to
victory was containing Peterson.
"We knew we just had to keep our containment, clog up the middle, not make mistakes on blitzes and we could keep [Peterson] contained," Cole said. "He is a hard runner. I'm not going to lie. He's one of the best runners I've seen. He's fast, keeps
pumping his legs and that's
why he breaks a lot of tackles."
But during the game, Cole
noticed a trend about Peterson that he first noted while watching film.
"From watching the film, I saw that Peterson cuts back a lot," Cole said. "Every time he takes one step forward and stops, he's going to go outside. I saw it the whole game.
"If he takes one step, he's not going to want to run inside. If he's going to run inside, he's
going to wait until a hole opens up."
So when Cole broke through the line of scrimmage and saw Peterson stop, he knew how to react.
"I knew he was going to cut it back," Cole said. "When I was running down, I'm glad I set down because I knew he was
going to cut back.
"I was out there and able to make the play."
To make plays, Cole first had to deal with the challenge of
handling McKinnie, who at 6-8 and 335 pounds, is 5 inches
taller and 65 pounds heavier than Cole.
"Yeah, it was going to be a big game against a big guy," Cole said. "[McKinnie] is a real good tackle and knows how to use
his body. He's very wide.
"When they run, it's hard to look around him. I had to keep dipping back and forth to see around him instead of keeping
inside. You have to find a way."
Oh, and for the record, Eagles linebacker Takeo Spikes said the number they had for Peterson was 70 rushing yards.
He had 76 yards before he took his last carry and ran into Cole.
"Make a big play and get off the field," Cole said when told that his tackle of Peterson had lowered his rushing yards to
exactly 70. "That's what it's about." *
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