Ashley Fox: Kolb got what he needed, a win

Posted: October 11, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - He needed this. Let's be real. Kevin Kolb had been through hell the last few weeks.

Stripped naked for all of the National Football League to see, Kolb suffered the ultimate indignity by losing the starting quarterback job he never had a chance to really hold, at least not when it mattered. His was a public flogging. It was definitive. And it was final - at least until it wasn't.

So given another chance to be the Eagles starting quarterback Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers, Kolb needed to make the most of it. He needed to show that he could be a leader, that he could throw the ball down the field, that he could be patient and could lead the team to victory. Despite not having a suitable left tackle protecting his blind side while having one teammate after another succumb to injury, Kolb did just that.

He won.

It is the only goal Kolb had, the only thing he wanted. And he got it.

"We were so focused on winning this football game," Kolb said. "Nothing else mattered."

By leading the Eagles to a 27-24 win over the still winless Niners - who are awful, by the way - Kolb proved to himself, his coaches, and his teammates that he can lead this team to victory. He overcame his own career adversity and won for the first time since Week 3 last year over Kansas City and just the second win of his career.

When Andy Reid switched from Kolb to Michael Vick after Week 2, Kolb had taken the high road. Sure, he said he was disappointed, but he supported Vick. He ran the scout team. He cheered Vick from the sideline. And Kolb didn't hang his head.

With a second chance after Vick injured two ribs last week against Washington, Kolb was rewarded for his professionalism and attitude. He was sharp in the first half, completing 12 of 14 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown, even though left tackle Jason Peters went down with a knee injury and was replaced by King Dunlap, who got manhandled the rest of the game.

Kolb finished with a 103.3 passer rating, and was greatly aided by five turnovers forced by the Eagles' defense. He lost a fumble in the first half, and could accept responsibility for two of the four sacks.

But Kolb avoided pressure other times and finished 21 of 31 for 253 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. He had a long scamper in the third quarter that had the Eagles' defense cheering wildly on the sideline. He threw a beautiful ball across his body to Brent Celek in the first quarter that went for a 32-yard gain.

Kolb adjusted when it looked like offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg lost the ability to relay plays through the speaker in Kolb's helmet, instead receiving the plays via hand signals for a series.

And when Quintin Mikell returned a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, Kolb pumped his fists and raised both arms in the air. Goal achieved. Game won. Attitude rewarded.

Andy Reid praised Kolb for how he managed the game, for his accuracy and for having "no hesitation putting the ball in tight holes, and he did it with conviction."

"I thought he stepped up and played like we know Kevin can play," Reid said. "All the guys have so much confidence in him."

And Kolb has confidence in himself. He put in extra hours at the NovaCare Complex, making sure he had a firm grip on the Eagles' game plan. He knew this was his chance. Reid told the offense to play "emotional football and physical football," and that's what Kolb tried to do.

Even so, Kolb knows that his road will lead back to the bench when Vick is healthy enough to play again. Maybe that will be this week. You know Vick is going to be highly motivated to get back on the field and play host to his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.

But if Vick can't play - and the guess here is that he probably won't be ready, given the severity of his rib injury - Kolb earned himself points and credibility in the locker room. He showed he can orchestrate scoring drives and can keep the offense moving. If Vick sits this week, and even the next against Tennessee, the Eagles are going to need Kolb to be a playmaker and a contributor, which is what he was Sunday.

"I think he will continue to do that," Reid said. "I think with a young quarterback, that's what you're going to see. I mentioned that at the beginning, that there was going to be a maturation process that takes place when he plays. You just don't step up in one year and set the world on fire. That's not how this thing works. That's the reason why Michael moved into that spot."

Kolb is well-liked in the locker room, but after getting his starting job taken from him, he had to show he could compete. He had to make his teammates believe in him, and he had to believe in himself.

With everything swirling around him, that could have been Kolb's toughest trick - shutting out the noise and just playing the game he has played for all of his life.

Kolb did that. And whether he, or anyone else with the Eagles, would ever admit it, he needed it.


Contact staff writer Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com.

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