Vikings

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrate after a touchdown against the New York Giants during the game Oct. 6 in East Rutherford, N.J. The Vikings on Sunday, Oct. 13, will host the Philadelphia Eagles who return to U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time since their Super Bowl victory there Feb. 4, 2018. Adam Hunger / AP photo

MINNEAPOLIS -- The last time the Philadelphia Eagles were at U.S. Bank Stadium, they enjoyed the most glorious moment in franchise history. For the Vikings, it wasn’t a very fun day.

The Eagles beat New England 41-33 in Super Bowl LII, on the Vikings’ home turf, on Feb. 4, 2018. That was two weeks after the Eagles smashed the Vikings 38-7 in Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game.

So instead of Minnesota being the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, the Eagles represented the NFC at U.S. Bank Stadium. And they will be back Sunday to face the Vikings.

“The game itself was hard to watch,” Vikings fullback C.J. Ham said of watching Super Bowl LII on television in the Twin Cities. “Just the fact of being so close to a Super Bowl. Obviously, you lose any game it’s tough, but it would have been pretty special to be there (in Super Bowl LII). It was tough to watch. I definitely contemplated not watching because we were so close.”

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen agreed.

“It was tough just for the fact that you were so close, and then you lose right before you get to the Super Bowl,” he said. “We had such a great team and we were playing with so much confidence. … I’m sure (Sunday’s game will) bring back good memories for them and provide maybe a little bit of energy for them.”

Nevertheless, Eagles coach Doug Peterson has spent much of the week trying to downplay a return to the site where they won their only Super Bowl.

“It’s definitely going to be different,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve got fond memories of that game and winning that game, but this is different. It’s going to be different. The environment is different. Obviously, the fans won’t be in our favor Sunday.”

The Eagles have 29 players on the active roster who were on the team at some point during the 2018 season. That includes quarterback Carson Wentz, who led the Eagles to a 11-2 record a starter that year but suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the 13th game.

Wentz was replaced by Nick Foles, the eventual Super Bowl LII MVP who is now with Jacksonville. Foles’ top receiving targets from then are still with the Eagles: wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, and tight end Zach Ertz.

“Obviously, the stadium always will have a special place in our hearts,” Ertz said. ‘But it’s a Vikings home game. The crowd is going to be crazy. It’s not even going to be remotely close to the environment we played in two years ago.”

Few Vikings players attended Super Bowl LII. Tight end Kyle Rudolph made some appearances during the week at NFL events, then took his family on vacation to Wyoming.

“I didn’t watch (the game),” Rudolph said. “I was in Wyoming where there’s not many TVs.”

Nose tackle Linval Joseph did attend the game. He said it was tough losing in the NFC Championship Game but he was able to put that aside by kickoff.

“That taste that year was bad because we were one game away,” Joseph said. “But it wasn’t difficult at all (watching the game). It was actually refreshing. I’d never watched a game in the stands before. … I took my brother to the game. First Super Bowl in the stadium. We were one game away, why not go?”

At least Joseph already has a ring, having won with the New York Giants at Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012.

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