The Return of Mike Vick

The Return of Mike Vick

After missing three games with a rib injury for the second consecutive season, Michael Vick returns to the lineup on Sunday to lead the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked against the Miami Dolphins. Although it's doubtful he can save their season, the next four weeks are very important for the Eagles quarterback anyway.

As Always, Your Postseason Update
Wouldn't it be funny if, after everything that's happened, the Eagles wind up making the playoffs? No? You've seen that one before? Well technically it is still possible. Here goes...

If the Birds win out, and neither the 7-5 Cowboys or 6-6 Giants finish better than 8-8, Philadelphia miraculously becomes division champs.

Sounds like a fairy tale in contrast with how they played all season, but you never know when Vick will capture lightning in a bottle. After Miami, the Eagles have the Jets (7-5), Dallas, and Washington (4-8) -- not a real imposing slate, so they'll play these out and hope for some help.

Vince Young, You're Fired
Regardless of whatever is left to play for, it doesn't seem like too many people will be sad to see VY back on the bench. There may not be a more unlikeable player on this team, and he bottomed out last week in Seattle, heaving four picks.

His stretch of relief probably wasn't as bad as how it will be remembered. All the same, we've seen enough.

Get What You Paid For
Even if the season were mathematically over -- and once it officially is -- Vick is the franchise quarterback. He doesn't get to hide on the shelf inside the trainer's room until the nightmare is over, pretending his 14 turnovers never happened.

Win or lose, Vick can still put on a show with the best of them. It's a show the fans have already paid their hard-earned money to see, and a show the Eagles are handing over sacks with dollar signs on them to Vick to perform.

Not that we're accusing Vick of ducking games. The man has a competitive spirit to rival the best, and if he can play, he wants on that field. This is just in case there is any notion out there the Eagles should shield him from further injury, and get ready for next year.

What Do We Have Here?
Last and perhaps most important, these final four games it's critical to evaluate Vick. There is no denying the sharp decline in the quarterback's play since he's taken over the job. He's gone from MVP-caliber to puzzling remarkably fast.

Vick is 3-8 over his last 11 starts, committing 19 turnovers during that span. By comparison, he's thrown or rushed for 15 touchdowns over the same stretch. On the whole, his passer rating has plummeted to 79.8 in 2011, only a few points better than what he posted for his career in Atlanta.

Obviously, Vick is coming back next season. His salary is fully guaranteed, and the very soonest they could even consider getting out from under his contract is 2013.

That scenario isn't out of the question though. If Vick doesn't elevate his play over these final four games, the Eagles have to give serious consideration to what the future at their quarterback position is. Given the prospect of a top 10 pick in April, they should even consider drafting somebody right away.

Which guy is he -- the one who energized the Eagles' record-setting offense for the first three-quarters of last season, or the guy who hasn't been able to get out of his own way ever since? The ball is back in Vick's hands now.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).