PHILADELPHIA, OCT. 15 -- The Philadelphia Eagles spent the first-half of tonight's game against the Minnesota Vikings in a mistake-filled fog, then transformed into the team that made the playoffs the last two seasons.
After trailing by 12 at the half, the Eagles kept their season alive and pride intact as they scored 17 fourth-quarter points to beat the Vikings, 32-24, before 66,782 at Veterans Stadium.
The Eagles come into RFK Stadium for Sunday's game against Washington with a 2-3 record. The Vikings, the defending NFC Central champions, fell to 1-5.
"You've just got to have faith," said Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, who passed for two touchdowns and 262 yards and ran for another 90. "I knew sooner or later we would come back."
But it took a succession of Minnesota foulups to do it.
The Eagles came within two, 24-22, when Cunningham looked to wide receiver Fred Barnett and threw into triple coverage. The ball was tipped by three Vikings, but it took a final tip to Barnett who ran gingerly in for a 40-yard touchdown.
But the game's key play came with 3:05 left when Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner knocked the ball loose from Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon as Gannon cocked his arm to throw. Defensive end Clyde Simmons recovered and ran to the Minnesota 6. On the next play fullback Anthony Toney ran in for a 29-24 Philadelphia lead.
On the Vikings next possession, Gannon was intercepted by defensive back William Frizzell. After running two plays, Philadelphia's often-unconventional coach, Buddy Ryan, elected to try for a field goal on third down. Roger Ruzek, with a strained abdominal muscle, made a 19-yarder to put the game out of reach, 32-24, with 1:53 remaining.
"This was a great game to win," Ryan said. "The good Lord was watching over us tonight."
Philadelphia and Minnesota were sloppy most of night in a game filled with penalties and turnovers. The Eagles committed 12 penalties in the first half alone for 95 yards.
Defensive end Reggie White set up Philadelphia's first touchdown when he knocked the ball loose from Gannon. It was recovered by Vikings tackle Tim Irwin, but when the 275-pounder began running with the ball, Frizzell forced him to fumble and White recovered at Minnesota's 22. Ruzek kicked a 38-yard field goal for the game's first points.
Later in the period, the Eagles took advantage of another Minnesota miscue. On third and 16, cornerback Carl Lee implanted his fist into the shoulder pad of Calvin Williams while the wide receiver was running his route. The penalty gave Philadelphia a first down at the Vikings 25.
It took eight plays, but Cunningham made Minnesota pay when he threw a bullet to Calvin Williams the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. Replays clearly showed Williams's left foot was out of bounds, but replay official Mark Burns ruled he had been pushed out.
The extra-point try was blocked, leaving the score 9-0.
Minnesota countered with three impressive touchdowns, two of them passes to wide receiver Cris Carter. The first was a 42-yard flea-flicker, Herschel Walker to Gannon to Carter. The second was a one-yard run by Rick Fenney, ending a 57-yard, 11-play drive. The last must have been the most embarrassing to Ryan, who cut Carter in the preseason: Carter sprinted past cornerback Izel Jenkins for a 78-yard touchdown and 21-9 halftime lead.