Just enough Vince for Eagles

Eagles quarterback Vince Young looks to pass in first quarter.
Eagles quarterback Vince Young looks to pass in first quarter. (RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: November 21, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In place of Michael Vick, Vince Young was awful, but on what curve do you grade him?

What prism is fair?

Just winning?

Young did that, beating the Giants with two touchdown passes and a heroic, fourth-quarter drive. He moved to 31-17 as an NFL starter.

He was 30-2 and a national champion at Texas.

"He's a winner," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "That's why we brought him in. For this exact situation."

Young also threw three interceptions, two of which were balls delivered late. He took at least three points off the board in the third quarter with an end-zone pick. He completed just eight of 18 passes with two interceptions in the first half . . . but dealt two bombs to DeSean Jackson (one called back because of Jackson's taunting penalty) and hit Steve Smith with a sweet, 14-yard TD pass.

His passer rating was 38.7 after two quarters . . . but the scoreboard was 10-3 in his favor.

He rated out at 69.0 for the game . . . and the scoreboard favored him then, too, 17-10. He was 23-for-36 for 258 yards. He was sacked just once.

And he had that game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

Not perfect. Just victorious.

"It's always that way," Young said, resignedly.

Consider that Young hadn't seen first-team reps since August. He had thrown one pass in a game in a year, in Michael Vick's place, momentarily, a month before at Washington, and it was intercepted.

Consider that the Giants keyed on LeSean McCoy, the most dangerous player in the backfield, with Vick sidelined with cracked ribs. McCoy finished with 113 yards on 23 carries.

Consider that Young played without Jeremy Maclin, who, like it or not, is the Eagles' No. 1 receiver. He missed the game with shoulder and hamstring injuries.

Consider the pressure.

Young found himself getting his first and perhaps his only start of the season in the prime-time spotlight of "Sunday Night Football.''

He is on a 1-year deal, and he is playing for a contract.

He is desperate to rehabilitate his reputation as a flaky, selfish quarterback.

He took some steps toward that last night.

He seldom seemed flummoxed by the play-calls coming in. He didn't call a confusion timeout until 6 minutes, 33 seconds remained in the third quarter.

"I feel I did a pretty good job with that," Young said.

He was cool in the pocket, especially as the game progressed.

He dealt a nifty pitch on the run to Riley Cooper for 23 yards and a field-flipping first down early in the third quarter. On the next possession, he found Cooper for another field-flipping, 19-yard jump-ball fade down the sideline.

He then chose to loft another such pass to Cooper, this time in the corner of the end zone. It was underthrown, to a receiver with no catches entering the game. Aaron Ross intercepted it . . . with slot receiver Chad Hall wide open over the middle.

"These types of things are going to happen," Young said.

He didn't wilt. Instead, he surged.

"I started to calm down," Young said. "I started to let the game come to me."

He stepped up in the pocket and found Brent Celek for a first down near the end of the third quarter to again negate the Giants' field-position advantage.

And, of course, he led them on an 80-yard, 18-play, game-winning touchdown drive, capped with an 8-yard TD pass to Cooper.

He could have been better.

He was just good enough.

Thumbs down

Who else? DeSean Jackson's indulgent taunting penalty erased what would have been a 50-yard pass play.

With the Eagles at first-and-10 from their own 2 in the second quarter, Jackson made a wonderful catch on the Giants sideline over Corey Webster. Jackson's momentum took him out of bounds . . . where he flipped the ball at Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

Because the Giants had incurred a penalty on the play, the penalties offset and the Eagles had to replay the down from their 2.

Jackson finished with six catches for 88 yards, and his presence loosened the defense immeasurably. But what might have been . . .

Coming off a one-game suspension for missing a team meeting, coming off a training-camp holdout, Jackson's continued selfish showboating likely did little to further endear him to the Eagles, from whom he wants long-term, guaranteed money.

The Eagles can franchise him for the next two seasons.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, when asked if Jackson maddens him, glibly deflected the question:

"When he's returning long punts, I find him quite appealing," he said.

Overall, Reid said, "I enjoy him."

Reid didn't "enjoy him" when his offense was stifled against the Cardinals last week, and he didn't "enjoy" the 50-yard penalty.

Franchise or long-term?

That decision is getting easier all the time.

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