Vick had only played the first quarter of what turned out to be an Eagles' 17-12 loss to a Washington team quarterbacked by the man Vick ultimately, and surprisingly, replaced in Philadelphia this season, Donovan McNabb.
Vick was wearing lace-up black wet-look boots. They were untied. He probably couldn't bend over to lace them. He sported a white T-shirt that appeared to conceal heavy wrapping around his torso. He grimaced as he struggled to pull on a crisp blue-gray button-up shirt, and then walked away as gingerly as he arrived, disappearing into the trainer's room. An Eagles executive denied a media report that Vick suffered three broken ribs.
The moment was, nonetheless, reminiscent of how the Eagles opened this season, with Kevin Kolb having won the starting quarterback job in the offseason but getting knocked out by halftime of what became a loss to Green Bay. Only this time, whenever Vick is good to go again, Vick won't discover he's lost the starting job he was handed after Kolb got sidelined.
"No," Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin assured me when I asked him if there would be any indecisiveness about who should be the starting quarterback.
"It's Vick?" I asked.
"Yep," he said nodding as he put on his shoes.
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Andy Reid, of course, will be the final arbiter as Eagles' coach. But while he vacillated before taking the ball out of Kolb's hand and giving it to Vick, Kolb offered little Sunday to inspire similar handwringing.
Vick's absence should've made the brain grow fonder.
There was no bigger reason, after all, that the Eagles' nemesis two hours south on I-95 shut down what had been the league's highest scoring offense than its knocking Vick, who'd been the league's most dynamic quarterback through September, out of the game. Without him, the Eagles were ordinary again. They struggled to score against a team that gave up 30 points each of the previous two weekends, including a 400-yard-plus gashing two Sundays ago to a rookie quarterback, the Rams' Sam Bradford.
In relief of Vick, Kolb completed 22 of 35 pass attempts for 201 yards and one touchdown. His longest completion was 18 yards. He scrambled for 21 yards. He led his team to one more score, a field goal. He took over on the last play of the first quarter after Vick got sandwiched by Washington defensive backs DeAngelo Hall and Kareem Moore after a nifty -- only Vick can do -- 23-yard scamper to the goal line. A penalty nullified it. Kolb completed a three-yard pass on third down and on the first play of the second quarter the Eagles booted a long field goal.
When Vick relieved Kolb after the half in the season opener, he completed 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown and he ran for 103 yards. He manufactured 17 points and afterward said quite frankly that he felt his team would have had a chance to win the game had he played all of it.
Kolb made no such proclamation after Sunday's setback even though a time-expiring heave from 32 yards away was almost gathered in by one Eagles receiver, Jason Avant.
That's what the Eagles looked to have with Kolb on Sunday, a wing and a prayer. With Vick, they had every defensive coordinator's worst nightmare.
"Mike and Kevin are good quarterbacks," Avant said. "The things you see Mike do just aren't things by design."
In a lot of ways, it was a shame what happened to Vick on Sunday, not only for the Eagles, but also for the NFL. If an MRI he was scheduled for Monday morning finds something worse than bruises, the Eagles will have lost the catalyst for their early season success and the league will have lost not just a comeback story, but a redemptive one as well.
As an animal lover, I never had any sympathy for Vick following his conviction for financing a dog-fighting ring. But I recognize he did his time, repented and has been successful so far at working to stop others from going down the way of that dark alley. The CEO of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, is scheduled to talk to my Maryland journalism class this week about Vick's role in the battle against animal cruelty.
That story won't necessarily continue to get the exposure it has with Vick out of the picture. The Eagles won't be a team to beat with him out of uniform, either, or be as much fun to watch as they had been through the first three weeks.
"It was tough," Maclin said of watching Vick go down. "It was kind of disappointing."
In his first three games, Maclin caught no less than three balls each outing and got in the end zone each time. With Kolb for three quarters, he had one catch for 15 yards and it wasn't for a score.
"It was still the same thing," he said of their offensive play-calling under Kolb. "But they (Washington) kind of threw a curve ball at us. Not going to let us get behind them. Simple as that."
It was easier to do because Washington didn't have to concern itself with Kolb taking off and running underneath as Vick did on his last play Sunday.
There were a lot of things Vick appeared to be early this season as a starter for the first time since he was sent away to prison. He looked to be more patient as a passer and more accurate. He was more judicious as a runner, too. But he was still a runner. He always was. He always will be. And when he sees the goal line, as he did on his final play Sunday, he goes for it.
"I'd rather not see him take hits like he did," DeSean Jackson said.
The rest of the Eagles certainly would agree after what happened Sunday. For the hit they will take should they be without Vick for a while may be more that they can withstand.