So, as Michael Vick left Lincoln Financial Field here on Sunday night with his family nearby and a 26-24 victory secured over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, Vick asked what was with all the hand-wringing over him running with the football again? Would he do it? Of course he was going to do it. Light it up. Ham it up.
Some people get sensitive, get racial about black quarterbacks who run with the football instead of pass it. Some people continue to label quarterbacks who can run as runners instead of throwers. You know, can't "run'' an offense. Uh, can't master a "pro'' offense.
Vick sheds this nonsense like a tackler. It's a thing of beauty. He has the legs to run past those labels, the arm and accuracy to silence those criticisms, a dual threat who uses variety to make the difference. And that was the difference in this Eagles victory and this Colts loss. The bottom line was Vick can run and Manning cannot. Vick did more with his legs and arm than Manning did with just his arm.
Vick managed it in his first game back since Nov. 15 when the Redskins mauled him on one of his runs near the goal line. Vick's ribs were battered and he missed the last three Eagles' games.
He was back here as a starter against Manning. Eagles coach Andy Reid had never beaten Manning, losing in 1999 when Manning led the Colts to 44 points and in 2002 when Manning led the Colts to 35 points and then another defeat in 2006 when Manning shoved 45 points the Eagles way. Reid, entering this game 11-0 after bye weeks, knew something had to give. Either he was going to defeat Manning for the first time or lose for the first time in his NFL career after having a bye week, an extra week to prepare.
Reid knew something else.
He had better let Vick be Vick to have a shot.
As a passer, Vick threw for 218 yards and finished with a 93.8 passer rating compared with Manning's 65.7 rating. As a runner, Vick dashed 10 times for 74 yards and scored on a 1-yard run. Manning was sacked three times for 18 yards lost -- not a single Manning rushing attempt nor rushing yard gained.
Vick kept drives alive with his legs. Oh, he threw some masterful bullets, completed some needle-like passes that were as accurate and as impressive as any that Manning tossed.
But it was the wheels. They looked as good as new.
"I was not going to hold back one bit with that, maybe be smarter and protect myself at the end of the runs,'' Vick said deep in the tunnels of the stadium before joining his family. "But I knew that coming back I was going to run and run hard when the situation presented itself, when it called for that. It's just my mindset to go out and play my game and not shy away from any part of my game. This feels good.''
Real good for the Eagles, who are 5-3 now and look rejuvenated after a 37-19 listless loss at Tennessee prior to their bye week.
Real good to running back LeSean McCoy, who enjoyed the return of receiver DeSean Jackson from concussion issues and watched the Eagles offense spread, fly with Vick.
"The crazy thing was the Colts put a lot of guys in the box and Mike was able to get through that for some key runs for us,'' McCoy said. "There are certain plays that only he can make. His running is a good thing. He brings energy and excitement to the team with that. He gives all of us that spark. In these games, there is no substitute for that.''
Cornerback Asante Samuel, who made two interceptions of Manning, one early, one late, said at his locker, "I tried to do my part. But Mike Vick did the things that we needed. He is one of the most electric players on this Earth.''
Colts coach Jim Caldwell knew what hit him. He talked about not being able to limit Vick's big plays and that, "he threw the ball well and ran the ball obviously well. He gives you all kinds of problems because he is a dual threat.''
The Eagles credited defensive coordinator Sean McDermott for dialing frequently rotating defenses against Manning and McDermott described the victory as "sweet.'' The Eagles credited their special teams and the entire roster's willingness to stay engaged and entrenched for four quarters.
They have another game against their old quarterback -- Donovan McNabb -- this time in Washington, up next. They have the NFC East leading Giants twice yet to play.
Vick confided in Reid that he believes the Eagles can reach the Super Bowl. He told Reid he believes they are good enough, that they can earn it. Vick said it was a private conversation that became public.
He was OK with that. He is also fine with getting there using dual transportation -- by air and by ground.
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