Marcus Hayes: Eagles' Vick delivers on his promise

Michael Vick is taken down by the Giants' Chase Blackburn in the fourth quarter. Vick's mistake-free performance allowed the Eagles to cash in on four field goals. YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Michael Vick is taken down by the Giants' Chase Blackburn in the fourth quarter. Vick's mistake-free performance allowed the Eagles to cash in on four field goals. YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: October 02, 2012

MICHAEL VICK promised this one.

He promised to do better. To make better decisions.

"I know I can get my job done," Vick said this week.

He was speaking for the first time after his coach, Andy Reid, let dangle the possibility that Vick's job was on jeopardy by saying, "Right now" the job was Vick's; that "We'll evaluate as we go."

Vick had led a pair of winning, fourth-quarter drives in the Eagles' first two games, but he had made those drives necessary with awful play in the first three quarters of those one-point wins.

A shellacking in the Arizona desert last week called into question the wisdom of leaving Vick in charge.

Vick promised, though.

He promised to not give away possessions, and games, and, maybe the season.

That's what he had been doing.

Vick entered the game averaging a turnover per quarter.

He had played 12 quarters.

Do the math.

Sunday night, he didn't give it away at all.

He went 19-for-30 with a touchdown, but it was four field goals that made the difference against the Giants.

Field goals made possible by Vick's zero turnovers.

Zero hero plays.

"When things are there, you take it. When it's not there, don't force it....I was pressing a little bit."

OK.

This is how NFL quarterbacks win. Vick is learning that.

"This is what I expect of him," Reid said. "We're making progress in the right direction."

One example from Sunday night:

Pursued by linebacker Chase Blackburn, Vick tucked the ball and ate the 4-yard sack. His receivers covered, he didn't throw an interception. He didn't erase the momentum of a 74-yard, 5-minute, 24-second drive.

He allowed the Eagles to kick a manageable field goal and take a 16-10 lead with 9:25 left in the game.

"Give credit to Michael for managing the game the way he did," Reid said.

Vick had promised to be less reckless.

He was.

He rid himself of the ball more quickly. He ran out of bounds.

Oh, he still got pounded.

Behind this offensive line, against this defensive front, he was going to get pounded.

Vick survived an early body slam by Justin Tuck, who beat a double-team.

Those sorts of hits dwindled as the game progressed. Everyone had a hand in that.

Featured back LeSean McCoy, whose pass protection is - to be kind - a work in progress, kept Mathias Kiwanuka off Vick on the 19-yard touchdown pass that gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

Vick eluded Osi Umenyiora and broke around the left end for 18 scintillating yards. Umenyiora had eluded left tackle Demetress Bell, whose presence on the roster continues to elude logic.

Kiwanuka destroyed Bell later on the same drive, then chucked Vick to the turf. Comparatively, it was a gentle blow.

In the first three games, the official NFL stats put the hits absorbed by Vick at 28.

Anyone watching knows that was way, way too low.

At least twice in the first three games Vick lay on the ground, clearly fighting cobwebs. After he was abused in Arizona, he underwent a postgame concussion test.

There is the reality that Vick was nowhere near healthy.

As the dissections of his performance compounded, some mention had been made of Vick's minimal preseason play - only 12 plays, due to left thumb and rib injuries. He was rusty.

Little mention had been made of Vick's actual injuries. Little mention that sprained passing thumbs and battered ribs routinely take months, not weeks, to heal.

"He found himself tonight," said Reid.

With a little help.

The Eagles also ran more than they passed, a refreshing and effective change.

One of the underappreciated aspects of handing the ball off is that no one hits the quarterback when the running back has the ball.

Also, lousy offensive lines tend to run-block better than pass-block.

And teams almost never throw interceptions when they run it.

Unless, of course, former wildcatter Ronnie Brown is in the mix.

Vick and McCoy failed to recognize a blitz from the left edge in Arizona last week. Vick was sacked, fumbled and watched the Cardinals recover and score a touchdown. It was the biggest play of the season.

There was no way the Eagles would give that dynamic duo a do-over.

McCoy misread blocks right twice, got stuffed left, and the Eagles took the three points.

Vick lived with a little luck, true.

He threw into double coverage and hit Brent Celek over the middle late in the first quarter.

He hit Blackburn in the back trying to find Jackson deep, in the third.

But Vick also gained rhythm.

He saw Jeremy Maclin, limited by a hip injury, with one-on-one coverage, so Vick hit him for a fourth-quarter first down.

He ran for 13 yards to set up at least a late field goal two plays later.

When he rolled out on third-and-goal with the game on the line, just after the 2-minute warning, Vick did not throw the ball across his body. He did not run out of bounds.

Vick dropped at the 8, took the sack, forced the Giants to use their final timeout and set up the 26-yard, go-ahead field goal.

No turnover.

"[The press] give me enough flak about it," Vick said, laughing, "I'll get the hint."

Now, 19-17, the Eagles are 3-1 and atop the NFC East.

By a total of four points.

Just like Michael Vick promised.


Contact Marcus Hayes at hayesm@phillynews.com.

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