Fierce storm sacks Vikings-Eagles game
PHILADELPHIA -- On a bizarre day when the Philadelphia Eagles were snowed out, they celebrated an NFC East championship.
The NFL moved the Vikings at Eagles game from Sunday night to Tuesday because of a blizzard that could dump more than a foot of snow on Philadelphia.
The game -- the first on a Tuesday since 1946 -- will be played at 8 p.m. EST., and televised nationally by NBC.
Sidelined by the storm, the Eagles went home and watched the Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants 45-17. That gave Philadelphia its first division title since 2006 and sixth in 12 seasons under coach Andy Reid.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency as of 2 p.m. EST Sunday.
"We are urging all Philadelphians, please be careful, please be safe," the mayor told reporters in a news conference at City Hall on Sunday morning.
The decision to postpone the game came shortly after noon -- before there was any snow accumulation in Philadelphia.
In announcing the postponement, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said:
"Due to public safety concerns in light of today's snow emergency in Philadelphia, tonight's Vikings-Eagles game has been postponed. Because of the uncertainty of the extent of tonight's storm and its aftermath, the game will be played on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. This will allow sufficient time to ensure that roads, parking lots and the stadium are fully cleared."
Nutter, reached by telephone by ESPN before the decision to postpone the game, said it was not the city's decision. "We'll be prepared," said Nutter, who said city operations officials were in constant contact with the NFL and the Eagles front office. "Either way, if there is a game or not, the city will be ready. But it's the NFL's call to play the game or not."
The city was hit by more than 30 inches of snow last year the night before the Eagles played the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 20, 2009. The city and the Eagles cleared the streets and the stadium in time for the game -- but the snow had stopped for three hours before the game.
The postponement did not sit well with Gov. Ed Rendell, who told KYW-TV he did "not at all" agree with the decision.
"This is football; football's played in bad weather," Rendell said. "I think the fans would have gotten there, the subways work and the major arteries are still open, and other fans would have stayed home -- but you play football regardless of the weather."
The governor, who does football commentaries after Eagles games, also said the decision would be a "serious handicap" for the Eagles and was unfair to the team.
"I, for one, was looking forward to sitting in the stands throughout the snow and seeing an old-time football game," Rendell said.
Asked what Vince Lombardi would say about the decision, Rendell said "he'd be mocking us."
Reid agreed with the league's decision.
"We're OK with it," he said. "We're organized and prepared for this, and we completely support what the league did from a safety standpoint for everybody. We got the guys out of the hotel and home, and they'll come back for a walkthrough tomorrow and then to the hotel, and it will be just like a Saturday night before a Sunday game, just a normal Saturday night-Sunday schedule."
The Vikings already have had two home games affected by the weather this season. Their game against the Giants on Dec. 12 was postponed a day after Minneapolis got 15 inches of snow. It was then moved to Detroit when the Metrodome roof collapsed.
Their game against Chicago the following week was played at the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium because of the damaged roof.
"What else can you say? Just add this to the list for the 2010 season," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "But you know what, we have to remain together as a team and keep a positive mind frame. It's important to be a professional and be ready to play on Tuesday night."
Minnesota (5-9) is out of playoff contention, but the Eagles (10-4) have plenty at stake. They need to win their last two games and hope Chicago loses at the Packers next week to secure a first-round bye.
"We have every reason, because of the season, to say, 'This is the last straw and I'm checking out,' " Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier said. "But this is the NFL and you can't do that. You have to show up ready to play Tuesday night and that's what we're trying to get the young guys and everybody to understand."
NBC will broadcast the regular "Football Night in America" from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. EST followed by a "Minute to Win It" repeat from 8:30 to 10 p.m. and then a "Law and Order" repeat until 11 p.m.
The Eagles went to their practice facility for workouts and film study and then went home. They'll now have just four days off before playing Dallas (5-10) next Sunday in a game that could determine whether they get a week off.
"I don't think it's a problem," Reid said. "I think we'll be all right. We've had Monday games, Sunday night games, we had a Thursday game, so we've been through a lot of this already, and that will help us. We'll be fine."
Many players wished the game wasn't moved. They made their feelings known via Twitter.
"It's only snow!!!! Let us play... It must b alot of fun... I'm ready let's get it on!!" wide receiver DeSean Jackson wrote.
The game originally was supposed to be played at 1 p.m., but was switched because of the flex scheduling.
"Thank you flex-scheduling....," guard Todd Herremans wrote.
Quarterback Michael Vick looked at the positive side.
"Just a few more days to get ready !" he wrote.
This will be the 23rd NFL game ever played on a Tuesday. The New York Giants beat the Boston Yanks 17-0 on Oct. 1, 1946 in the last one.
There won't be any conflicts with the Flyers or 76ers because both teams are on the road. However, a Disney on Ice show Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center was canceled.
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