Vick delivers victory despite first taste of adversity

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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PHILADELPHIA -- Osi Umenyiora was right. Michael Vick is not unstoppable. But the Giants' star defensive end didn't say anything about Michael Vick being unbeatable -- and for now, he is.

He hasn't lost a game this season that he started and finished, including a 27-17 decision Sunday against the New York Giants -- a come-from-behind victory where the Eagles were one play from being cooked until running back LeSean McCoy, not Vick, came to the rescue.

And that's significant. Because on a night when Michael Vick was not Superman ... on a night when Michael Vick looked more like the quarterback in Atlanta than the quarterback with the Eagles ... on a night when Michael Vick was incapable of producing the pyrotechnics of his previous two performances ... Philadelphia still prevailed.

In short, on a night when Michael Vick wasn't all that good, he was good enough.

"This was an important game for him," winning coach Andy Reid said. "It's very important to battle through when a team is coming after you, bringing extra people, you're getting hit and knocked around, and things might not be going as smoothly as you want. You have to fight, and that's what he did. That's the only part we haven't seen. You guys [the media] have asked me about that, so you saw it. He battled his tail off."

Vick was not intercepted, but he fumbled ... twice ... and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season in a game he finished. Of course, that doesn't mean he didn't have his chances. He hit an uncovered Jason Avant in the back of the end zone for an apparent first-half score, but Avant dropped the ball. He had DeSean Jackson open for another touchdown, too, but that one also went awry.

Where Vick was nearly flawless against Washington and superb against Indianapolis, he was inconsistent against the Giants. Naturally, a lot of that had to do with the league's No. 1-ranked defense, but a lot of it had to do with Vick and his teammates. They weren't smooth. They committed stupid mistakes. They failed to gash their opponents with big plays. And they seemed out of sync, with Avant later describing it as their "worst game of the year."

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I don't know about that. But I do know it was Vick's worst. He ran for the Eagles' opening score, then held on as the club settled for field goals, fell behind, then rallied on a gutsy fourth-and-1 call that McCoy turned into a touchdown. While McCoy can take a curtain call for the 50-yard run around left end, it was Vick who made it possible by regaining control of a bobbled snap and pitching it to McCoy a split-second before Umenyiora toppled the quarterback.

"Being the great athlete that he is," McCoy said, "I knew he'd get the ball."

Nobody ever questioned Vick's athleticism. What they questioned was his value as a quarterback. Until this season, Vick was always the quarterback who was more of a runner than he was a passer. But that changed when he stepped into the Eagles' starting lineup, culminating with last Monday with an extraordinary performance that had people pushing Vick for MVP consideration.

Please. The guy has started six games, for crying out loud, and while most of them have been extraordinary, his latest was not. He wasn't much of a threat running, held to 34 yards and a season-low 3.1 yards per carry, and he hurt his ankle midway through the game. Yet he soldiered on, taking hits, scrambling for tough yards and settling for shorter passes than usual as the Giants threw waves of blitzes at him and the Eagles offensive line.

"It wasn't rough," Vick admitted. "It's a football game, and not every football game is going to be like last week. I knew that. That's the reason I put that game behind me. I knew expectations were going to be through the roof, and I knew people were going to expect us to come out and score 50 points a game. But it's not going to work that way, especially against a defense like the Giants have."

CBSSports.com Grades
New York Giants
New York Giants
C-
They struggled mightily for most of the game and then managed to take the lead in the fourth quarter against a good team on the road. But they couldn’t hold it and that’s what a good team is supposed to do.
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
B+
They huffed and puffed and found a way to win, even though it was far from pretty. The bottom line is that they’re in sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
By Kevin Noonan
RapidReports Correspondent

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In the end, the Eagles won because they committed fewer mistakes than their opponents. New York had five turnovers, including three interceptions, while the Eagles lost two fumbles. That's significant, too, because Vick hasn't been intercepted this season. While he seemed rattled at times Sunday, he never made a fatal mistake.

So he didn't make a 70-yard touchdown pass or dazzling run through the Giants defense. That can't happen with regularity, and it's not going to happen with regularity with the Eagles or their quarterback. We've seen the best of Vick, and it's magnificent. But we've seen Vick when he's not so great, too, and it's not all that bad.

In fact, it has the Eagles alone atop the NFC East for the first time this season.

"You're going to have ups and downs," Jackson said. "You're going to have games like this. As a quarterback, he understands that. He wishes he could go out there every time and connect on long balls, deep balls, short balls, whatever the case may be.

"As long as he has that mentality, which I know he does, it's going to be all right. It's not always going to go as we want it to go. But we have to find a way to get it done. And we did that."

Michael Vick has found a way to get most things done this season. Maybe the Giants found a way to limit the damage he inflicts, but they didn't find a way to beat him. And tell me which you would rather have.

"This game was important," Vick said, "and we knew this game wasn't going to be like last game. We knew there was going to be adversity that we would have to deal with. We knew things weren't going to go according to plan at all times, but it's all about fighting, winning the tough ones and pulling it out when you need to."

Well, then, mission accomplished.

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