"We just did a great job of battling back," Vick said after completing 22 of 33 passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and a 103.3 passer rating. He also ran 10 times for 48 yards and a TD.
"I told the guys, 'Now's the time to put it all together and come out and make the plays I know we can make. Let's be efficient, let's be smart, and win this football game.' "
Every now and then, a game shapes up pretty much the way everybody thought it would. The Texans' defense is pliable. The Eagles' defense is better, but, once again without cornerback Asante Samuel, who rested his sprained knee, the Birds' secondary figured to be vulnerable to a quarterback such as Matt Schaub and a potent, balanced offense such as the Texans'.
All week, a major point made in favor of the Eagles was that the Texans' defense, ranked 28th overall, was not anything close to the Chicago defense that played Vick effectively for three quarters Sunday. Indeed, Vick reclaimed his magic.
"I love games like this," Vick said, after seemingly taking a big hit after almost every throw. "You get knocked around a couple times. You get put in a position where you almost have to come back and score. You find out a lot about yourself playing this game. At times, when you think you can't do it, something's always in the back of your mind saying, 'Yes, you can.' That's what drives me, that's what motivates me."
Eagles coach Andy Reid said he was "proud of the guys for pushing through."
Reid noted that Vick "got knocked around a little bit," but "got back up and kept going."
After falling behind, 14-3, early at Chicago Sunday, the Eagles talked about wanting a fast start at home. They got one. Vick was dominant on the Birds' first two drives. The first went 88 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown; the second went 72 yards, also in 11 plays, for a 14-3 Eagles lead. The Texans sandwiched in a field goal after a short kickoff into the wind and a Dimitri Patterson face-mask penalty.
LeSean McCoy scored both times, leaving one to wonder whether the brain trust wasn't trying to appease the wrong Drew Rosenhaus client - it's DeSean Jackson whose feelings are said to be bruised, not Shady. Jackson was targeted on the very first snap, though, catching a 30-yard pass down the middle. Then he pretty much disappeared, for a good while. Cameras showed him open deep on an early play when Vick was running for his life, as Vick had to do way too much, again.
"You get a little attention when you strike early like that," Reid said of Jackson. He said Jackson was targeted five or six times, but either was covered or pressure kept Vick from finding him.
"It was crucial for us as a team not to get caught up in individual people having grudges," Jackson said. "We had to move on. Everything was good."
Reid said Vick "was very vocal about everybody rallying and picking up their game."
The Texans' top weapon, wideout Andre Johnson, took a mysterious trip down the tunnel early, and the Eagles didn't seem to notice he had returned, Patterson beaten badly on a 42-yard catch that set up the first Houston touchdown.
Very much like Sunday's game, a sequence near the end of the first half seemed ominous. Trevor Laws came up with an amazing interception, leaping to block Schaub's pass and instead hauling it in. Arian Foster then stripped Laws as the 304-pound tackle lumbered forward with his first career pick, in 39 games, but Trevard Lindley recovered. The Eagles got the ball at the Texans' 18 with 1:24 left in the half.
"I was very surprised it came to me," said Laws, who recalled having previously intercepted a pass his sophomore year in high school. "I saw the end zone. I thought I had it. I was a little too slow, I think."
This would have been a handy time to restore a two-touchdown advantage going into halftime. But Jason Avant (again!) and Brent Celek dropped touchdown passes, and the Birds settled for a 22-yard David Akers field goal. It was 20-10 at halftime.
Houston came out with much better offensive answers in the third quarter, and the Eagles didn't, or if they did, you couldn't tell. Vick and company couldn't get on the field. The Texans' first drive ate up 6:11, 11 plays and a penalty to go 79 yards, Schaub hitting Foster from 13 for the TD that made it 20-17. Laws was flagged for jumping offside as Schaub was about to throw incomplete on third-and-7 from the Eagles' 27.
The Eagles ran only four plays before Vick's third-and-3 bomb down the right sideline, from the Birds' 45, was intercepted by Jason Allen. The Texans then held the ball for the rest of the third quarter, practically - the Eagles were able to run two snaps before the quarter ended. More important was that it ended with the Eagles trailing, 24-20.
In the third, the Texans drove 86 yards, in 13 plays and a penalty, Foster running it in from the 3. The big play came when Johnson expertly shoved Patterson out of his way, not flagrantly enough to draw a flag, and caught a 31-yard pass on third-and-17. Patterson was quite irate. (But it should be noted that the Eagles' d-backs got the benefit of the doubt, and maybe more, a couple of times when there was contact in the fourth quarter.)
A Lincoln Financial Field crowd that had been a little off its usual weekend buzz all night fell very quiet and grumbly, but the Eagles drove 60 yards in six plays to get the lead back. Vick rediscovered Jackson for a 33-yarder that took the Birds to Houston's 11, and Vick tunneled in from the 2 two plays later.
Then the defense actually got a stop, Schaub flubbing a pass under pressure on third-and-7 from his 36. The Eagles practiced some ball control of their own when they got it back. In fact, when Celek was marked down short of a first on a third-and-19 catch just outside the 5, Reid waited for the play clock to run down before throwing his red challenge flag, as the big screens whipped the Linc crowd into a flag-pleading frenzy. Then Reid won the challenge, and Vick hit fullback Owen Schmitt for Schmitt's first NFL touchdown, in his 41st game.
"It didn't look like his knees touched when he spun," Celek landing on a defender and reaching for the 5-yard line and the first down, Reid noted.
"As soon as I caught the ball, I knew I had to get some extra yards," said Celek, who looked more like the 2009 version, with four catches for 55 yards. "I felt like I let the team down earlier in the drive when I got a false start. It was something I owed everybody. I had to get that first down."
Celek said the four games in 18 days "was tough, but that's how football is. You gotta be tough. You're going to get nicked up here and there, but you've got to fight through it. We got a little nicked up [in Chicago], but overall, I think we played pretty well."
The Eagles' offensive red-zone performance, much scrutinized after the Birds went 2-for-10 the previous two games, was much better, 4-for-6 last night. But the red-zone defense continued its worst-in-the-NFL trend, with Houston going 3-for-3.
Right tackle Winston Justice left the game in the fourth quarter with a left MCL knee injury. He was replaced by King Dunlap. Andy Reid said Justice will get an MRI exam today. Justice limped heavily as he left the locker room . . . LeSean McCoy caught eight passes for 86 yards . . . DeSean Jackson caught only three passes, but they went for 84 yards . . . The Texans dropped to 5-7 after a 3-1 start . . . When Houston took the lead in the third quarter, it had converted six of eight third downs. But the Texans didn't convert any more . . . Arian Foster's 83 yards on 22 carries was bolstered by a meaningless 29-yard stat-padder on the final snap of the first half, on which he had no chance to score. *
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