Vick completed that series and took the field for the first play of the next one, but he was obviously hampered and gave way to Nick Foles, who didn't necessarily move the team better than Vick did - the Birds were up 16-7 when Vick went down - but Foles certainly got touchdowns instead of field goals on a couple of crucial drives, and had more success passing the ball, overall.
Foles completed 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards, two touchdowns, and a 114.9 passer rating, leading the Eagles to a first-place tie in the NFC East with the Cowboys, who lost to Denver, 51-48. Vick, who didn't complete a pass in the first quarter, was 6-for-14 for 105 yards, no passing TDs and a 69.0 rating. But Vick also propped up the first-half offense by running seven times for 79 yards, mostly designed runs/options. After he went down, the Eagles' running success dried up completely, with LeSean McCoy plowing into the line seven times for minus-4 yards in the second half, and Foles gaining 3 yards on an option play Vick probably would have scored easily on, from the Giants' 8.
Afterward, Eagles coach Chip Kelly didn't even wait for a questioner to finish the question: "If Mike is healthy, is he your . . . "
But that won't end the speculation, just as it didn't in 2010 when Vick stepped in for Kevin Kolb and wasn't going to be allowed to play his way into the No. 1 job, until he did.
"I thought he managed the game real well and I'm real happy with him," Kelly said afterward, when asked about Foles. "He's a student of the game. He prepares himself like he's the starter, because he's literally a chin strap away from being the starter. That's a credit to him. Some guys would get discouraged [after losing the preseason competition with Vick], but he wasn't like that at all."
No prognosis was offered for Vick, who has played all 16 games only once in his career, for Atlanta in 2006. Vick told reporters afterward he thought he missed "maybe a week" when he had a previous hamstring problem.
"I was going to go [despite the injury], but there wasn't any need," Vick said. "The coaches understood, why have me in the game when I'm not 100 percent, when you have a healthy quarterback on the sideline?"
DeSean Jackson, who finally broke loose against man coverage for seven catches and 132 yards, including the final touchdown, joked that he'd warned Vick about this sort of thing.
"Honestly, it's never a good situation when you see that dude grab his leg," Jackson said. "We always kind of pick on him, he's getting a little older now, he's in his 30s . . . I tell him. 'You're gettin' too old man, you gotta slow down. You're running too fast.' "
If Vick misses a week this time, that lines Foles up to start next Sunday at Tampa, scene of his only victory as a starting quarterback. Last Dec. 9, Foles completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the final 4 minutes, leading the Eagles to a 23-21 victory over the host Bucs. He threw the game-winning TD pass to Jeremy Maclin on the game's final snap.
Foles said that when something happens the way it did yesterday, the secret to being ready lies in going through the week of preparation with the idea that this could happen.
"You know the game plan, you know what you want to do, you know how you want to attack 'em, and you do it," Foles said. "If you go in with less clutter in your brain, you're going to play better. It's really common sense. If something like this does happen, I know I'm ready, I did everything I can, I've just got to go out and let natural ability take over."
Yesterday, Foles drove the Eagles for an end-of-the-half field goal - one of five by Alex Henery, the most by an Eagles kicker since David Akers made five in 2001 - but the offense sputtered in the third quarter and the Giants took the lead on a pair of Manning touchdown passes to Rueben Randle. The Eagles' pass rush wasn't getting home, and the middle of the field seemed wide open, as always. The Giants lost their only credible running threat, David Wilson, to a neck injury, but that loss didn't immediately alter the equation.
Foles moved the Birds for a field goal that got the lead back, then, early in the fourth, Brandon Boykin, Cedric Thornton and Trent Cole all arrived at Manning as the QB threw. His pass hit center Jim Cordle's helmet and blooped to Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who held on for his first career interception. It sure looked like Cole thumped Manning on the helmet during the scrum, but there was no flag.
"Ah, man, there were a lot of plays that turned the game around," Cole said, when asked if that was the defining moment in ending the Eagles' three-game losing streak and consigning the Giants to 0-5. "A lot of turnovers and stuff you want as a defense, the offense scoring as well . . . Nobody panicked. We just regrouped."
Asked whether he hit the QB's helmet, Cole said: "I don't know . . . I don't know what happened."
The first play after the pick, Foles hit Brent Celek in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown, and a sullen stillness enveloped MetLife Stadium.
"It was one of the better catches I think I've made," said Celek. "Nick made a great throw where only I could catch it, which is what you need."
On third-and-10 from his 20, down eight points, Manning tried to hit Victor Cruz over that previously wide-open middle. Brandon Boykin, victimized for a killer pass-interference penalty during an earlier Giants TD drive, made an amazing play, launching himself in front of Cruz and catching the ball as he flew horizontally, about a foot off the ground. The catch was upheld on review, at the Giants' 38. Four plays later, Jackson caught Prince Amukamara with a stop-and-start double move and Foles found him in the end zone from the 5.
Next series, another pick, Manning tossing it to Cary Williams, and the Giants were done. The Eagles hadn't intercepted three passes in the fourth quarter since Oct. 15, 1989 at Phoenix, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Manning, the two-time Super Bowl-winning QB, now has a dozen picks in five games, which is a lot. He took three intentional-grounding penalties yesterday, and seemed unconvinced that worse things can happen than taking a sack.
"I honestly believe that he's trying so hard to get us a win, he's almost put too much on himself. He keeps it all pretty much inside," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'm not making excuses. There were a couple of those plays that were terrible."
The Eagles get to play another winless team next week in Tampa, then they greet the Cowboys, who managed to score a bunch of points yesterday against a Denver team that just humiliated the Birds. After that the Giants come to visit.
Did the Eagles prove much yesterday? Probably not. They didn't turn the ball over. They didn't fall apart when Vick went down. The defense showed a pulse, which after last week was something. Oh, and the special teams didn't give up any touchdowns this week. But this time, the guys in the blue uniforms weren't exactly the Broncos.
"We took a nice solid step forward today that we have to build on," Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "We've got a lot of work left, but it was a good step."
On Twitter: @LesBowen