Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was back in action as Philadelphia outlasted the Indianapolis Colts in a thrilling game
Someone’s streak had to end…either Colts QB Peyton Manning would continue his mastery over Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid (No. 18 was 3-0 against Big Red including a couple blowouts) or the Eagles would finally lose after a bye for first time under Reid (11-0 going into the game).
Well, the later happened, as the Eagles finally showed Peyton that they were indeed not afraid of the Future Hall of Famer – well maybe just a little bit. Philadelphia won 26-24 in front of a raucous sellout home crowd of 69,144 who were not able to leave until the game’s final seconds had finally ticked off the clock.
The final score definitely did not do this exciting game any justice as Eagles fans, players, and even some of their coaches had to collectively hold their breath at the end. Probably the NFL’s best quarterback had the ball and was only 2-points down with :40 seconds on the clock. Manning looked like he was going to pull another one of his patented shotgun induced comeback wins.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said of the urgency of Manning having the ball at the end of the game, “Any time Peyton Manning has the ball, you think he is going to score a touchdowns”. It seemed that way as Manning moved his team from the Indy 26-yard line to their 41-yard line (about 20 yards from a potential Adam Vinateri game-winner, until Eagles aggressive cornerback Asante Samuel (2 INTs) stepped-in with a game closing interception.
After the game, Manning (31-52, 294 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs) even admitted that he may have forced some things in the Colts’ last drive. But in his defense, he was just trying to get into field goal range to get former Super Bowl hero kicker Vinateri an opportunity to win the game. The game’s finish was fast and furious. But the game also will be remembered for being extremely long –almost 4 hours — as there were 21 penalties including a whopping 14 for 125 yards against the Eagles.
Unfortunately, there also was an extremely scary moment in the game too. Colts receiver Austin Collie had to be taken off on a stretcher late in the second quarter after a combined big hit by safeties Quintin Mikell and Kurt Coleman on a bang-bang play. On the play Manning threw over the middle and Collie while reaching for the pass was hit first by Mikell (shoulder hit) then Coleman, who unfortunately for his wallet, appeared to hit the young Colts’ receiver helmet-to-helmet.
Collie went down immediately and appeared to fumble, but the officials called an unnecessary roughness penalty on Mikell — why was he even “flagged” as the big hitter on the play? The 2nd-year receiver from BYU laid on the turf for some time and was eventually taken off on a stretcher after several anxious minutes. Later we learned that Collie had a concussion, but was sitting upright and had movement in his limbs, which was some welcomed news. The interesting thing was after the Collie situation, the Eagles seemed to go into a minnie funk as Indianapolis scored before the half to take a 17-16 halftime lead.
But there still was plenty of fight left in the Eagles (5-3) and two huge reasons for the Birds’ success were the healthy returns of Vick and WR DeSean Jackson. Unfortunately for the Colts, they were not so lucky in the injury department –were missing 8 starters . And they did not have anyone close to the Eagles’ dynamic duo returning from injury. Any questions of Reid going back to former starter Kevin Kolb were quelled as Vick was awesome as he out-dueled Manning in a game that showed he was truly back.
Vick showed why Reid had so much faith in him as the Eagles’ starter despite missing several games with a rib injury was back to his speedy self. Vick ’02 was in the house as the former 3-time Pro Bowl player was making timely throws from the pocket and getting away from defensive pressure by using his highlight reel legs. Vick finished with passing numbers 17-29, 218 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs with an additional 74 yards and 1 TD rushing, while being in total control of the pocket.
Vick also was able to effectively run outside the pocket plus avoided the “big hits” that caused him to be miss Philadelphia’s last couple games. No. 7 really is back as you could see a vapor trail off his cleats on a scintillating 32-yard scamper on a key 3rd down. Jackson seemed to also feed off his quarterback joining him in returning to the starting lineup. The Eagles mercurial receiver showed no ill affects from his earlier concussion and Vick looked for him early and often in key situations. D-Jax finished with 7 catches (8 targets) for 109 yards and 1 touchdown plus he contributed 20 yards rushing on 3 carries.
However Eagles’ fans praise should not just end with Vick and Jackson as their defense, which came under fire after a 27-point fourth quarter collapse in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans, put up a great effort too. Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott had to feel some vindication as his unit forced two turnovers, sacked Manning three times, and held the four-time MVP to a 65.7 quarterback rating. The key for the Eagles’ defense definitely was their ability to not allow Manning a clean pocket as he was constantly hit and had to pass on the move (not his strength) several times.
The numbers weren’t the best for McDermott’s unit –Philadelphia allowed 338 total yards and 26 first downs. But all that matters is that they did enough to get the “W” and now the Eagles have a record of 5-3 and are solidly in the hunt for a playoff spot in the wide-open NFC. The win over the tough 2009 AFC Champion Colts — have won 12 games for 7 consecutive years, which is an NFL record – also showed that the Eagles have the mettle to compete with any team in the league. Manning said after the game, “You have to give Philadelphia a lot of credit”.
Up next is a crucial NFC East road battle against the Washington Redskins (4-4) on Monday Night Football. And did I mention that former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb will be leading the Redskins – at least we think he will unless head coach Mike Shanahan wants to go with “superstar” backup Rex Grossman again in a crucial situation — as they go for a season sweep of the Birds. McDermott said of the win in the lockerroom after the game, “It is a confidence booster, but now we have to get ready for the next one”.
Vick said of his team’s victory, “This game was more emotional because we knew how tough it was going to be to win this game. It took two weeks of hard work, guys working extra hard, watching film and doing whatever it takes. To win this game was very gratifying.”