Congratulations to the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia's sports team of the year for 2018!
In a year when the Eagles won the first Super Bowl in franchise history and just punched their ticket back to the playoffs, winning this award wasn't easy for the Vikings, but the truth is the city of Philadelphia owes a lot to the North Star State.
For starters, the Eagles don't even reach the postseason if Minnesota doesn't faceplant in Week 17. The Vikings controlled their own destiny on Sunday, yet managed to score 10 points and amass 164 yards of offense against a Chicago Bears squad that knew it had nothing to play for by the second quarter.
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Those events were set in motion by the Vikings' decision to sign known fraud Kirk Cousins to a record free agent contract in March, fully guaranteeing the quarterback $84 million over three seasons. Cousins never won a playoff game in three seasons as Washington's starter - he only led the club to the postseason once, in fact - but he's Minnesota's problem now, and just averaged 4.0 yards per pass attempt in a do-or-die game.
Hard to blame the Vikings for trying to upgrade after Case Keenum led the offense to seven points in a blowout loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship at Lincoln Financial Field in January. Not only did Minnesota prove to be little more than a speed bump on the way to the Super Bowl, but their fans' proclaimed "takeover" of Philadelphia made for a good laugh.
Two weeks later, the Eagles were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy inside the Vikings' home stadium. How's that for hospitality?
That world championship was further aided by the Vikings' desperate decision in 2016 to trade first- and fourth-round picks to the Eagles for Sam Bradford. That deal eventually brought defensive end Derek Barnett, whose strip sack of Keenum in the NFC Championship helped spark the rout, and whose fumble recovery in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl helped finish off the Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium.
At this point, it sounds like a recurring nightmare for Minnesotans. The ownage even extends beyond the gridiron and to the hardwood, where the Sixers were recently able to pry away four-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler from the moribund Timberwolves for the discount price of Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless. On behalf of Philly fans, many thanks!
Sure, the Vikings would get some measure of revenge in October, returning to the Linc to narrowly defeat the Eagles 23-21 in a sloppy regular season matchup. No doubt everybody remembers that game.
But one ugly, hollow, meaningless victory wasn't nearly enough to derail the Vikings' quest to outdo the Eagles for the honor of being Philadelphia's best pro sports franchise in 2018. Given everything that's happened in the last 365 days, it's a remarkable achievement.
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