Vikings’ Rashod Hill determined to make up for NFC title game loss at Philly

October 7, 2018

EAGAN, Minn. — After the Vikings suffered an ugly 38-7 loss at Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game last January, tackle Rashod Hill didn’t hesitate to immediately watch the tape.

In fact, he viewed it three times soon after returning home.

Recently, Hill has watched the tape two more times, including on Thursday night. He wants to be ready for Minnesota’s return visit Sunday to Lincoln Financial Field.

“It’s definitely a big game,” Hill said. “They got us last year down there and everybody wants to go out and take care of business like we’re supposed to. That was embarrassing, the last game. I still go back and look at the game from last year and what I could have done better to help the team out more. I look back at the mistakes that I made. It’s kind of a motivation.”

Starting at right tackle, Hill had his share of troubles. The most apparent one came midway through the first quarter with the Vikings leading 7-0.

Eagles reserve defensive end Chris Long got by Hill and hit Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum in the chest when he threw. That was enough for Keenum’s pass to Adam Thielen to be off target, and cornerback Patrick Robinson picked it off and ran 50 yards for a touchdown.

That broke the game open. The Eagles took a 24-7 halftime lead and cruised to the win.

“I look back on that, of course,” Hill said. “Keenum was back too far (in the pocket), but who knows about that? As a line, people don’t know anything about that. But I think I could have kept back more (against Long). He got outside on me and hit (Keenum’s) chest. Believe me, I still think about that play.”

Hill said he used that play and his overall performance in the game as motivation throughout the offseason. Watching the tape, he didn’t like how he looked.

“I see myself and I was a little bit fat,” he said. “I was at 328 (pounds) last year around that time. I reported (this season) at 315. ... My conditioning is better. I’m in better shape.”

Hill is looking forward to again running into Long.

“I feel like I was prepared then but I’m more prepared now,” Hill said. “I’m looking forward to getting my hands on him. Him and (starting left defensive end) Brandon Graham. ... I’m going to leave it at that.”

Vikings players are approaching Sunday’s rematch with different views. Some, such as Thielen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and defensive backs Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, say that game was last season and is no longer relevant.

Others see it as an opportunity for revenge. The Vikings came one game shy in their quest to play at U.S. Bank Stadium in Super Bowl LII, won 41-32 by the Eagles over New England.

“No doubt,” said linebacker Ben Gedeon. “They’re a great team. We know that for sure. Going on the road, we were there last year, so this is a big one for us. ... Anytime, you lose in a big game like that, you can look back and try to make corrections and learn from what you did wrong.”

The game might have lost some luster since it was scheduled last April to be seen by most of the nation on Fox in the late afternoon time slot (3:25 p.m.). The Vikings are 1-2-1 and haven’t won since opening day. The Eagles are 2-2.

“I don’t think so,” said tight end Kyle Rudolph, disagreeing about any luster lost. “I mean, you still have two really good football teams that are going to battle for playoff spots come December, so it’s a big game for both of us.”

It certainly is for Hill. It might not be a playoff game, but he’s expecting a similar atmosphere to the one last January at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I know that it’s going to be loud,” Hill said. “Everybody knows it’s going to be loud. ... They’ve got a good team, but we’re a good team, too. So we’re going to go out there and battle.”

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