The time Michael Vick outdueled Peyton Manning

The time Michael Vick outdueled Peyton Manning

A lot of us—myself included—are just about ready to chalk up the Eagles’ trip to Denver this Sunday as another loss. The Birds have their share of flaws, but Peyton Manning has been simply masterful so far this season. You could argue he’s never been surrounded by so much talent before in his 16-year career, and it shows in the numbers.

After last night’s demolition of the Oakland Raiders—in which Manning completed 32 of 37 pass attempts—Manning has now thrown for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 134.7 efficiency rating. All of those numbers are on pace to shatter NFL records.

I don’t envy Bill Davis. Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator is tasked with stopping the league’s No. 1 offense this week, a unit that includes Pro Bowlers Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, another 1,000-yard receiver in Eric Decker, and emerging playmaker Julius Thomas as tight end. Oh yeah, and the Broncos can run the ball a little bit too—they’re ranked 14th.

Lucky for Davis, the Eagles have the No. 2 offense in the NFL, not to mention a few guys who know what it takes to outscore Professor Manning. Back in 2010, the Eagles defeated the Indianapolis Colts 26-24 at Lincoln Financial Field, at a time when Michael Vick was in the midst of a career renaissance, and LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson were still just beginning to make names for themselves.

The Colts leaned heavily on Manning that day, as the future Hall of Famer completed 31 of 51 tries for 294 yards and a score, but it was not enough.

Hosting Indy at the Linc in November after coming off of a bye, Vick was 17-for-29 with 218 yards and a touchdown pass, plus went for an additional 74 yards and a score on the ground. Shady went  for 95 on 16 carries, while DJacc hauled in seven receptions for 109 and reached paydirt.

After the victory, we wondered whether or not it would be a defining moment for that Eagles squad.

We might look back at this W somewhere down the road with a deeper appreciation for how it impacted this season. They lasted four quarters with the reigning AFC Champions, a perennial powerhouse featuring several of the top players in NFL history, and despite almost every conceivable break going for the other side, the Birds amazingly came away the better team for one day.

Of course, the real hero that day might’ve been Asante Samuel, who picked off Manning twice. And Manning wasn’t spinning it to Welker, Decker or Thomas & Thomas—besides Reggie Wayne, his primary targets that day were Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Jacob Tamme.

With their level of talent, I don’t think it’s silly at all to suggest Denver has a long shot to run the table this year. I’m talking 16-0.

There is one similarity though, the fact that the Eagles once again have extra time to prepare for Doctor Manning’s surgical procedure. The Broncos will be playing on a short week after their Monday night game, while the Eagles are heading to Denver on 10 days rest. This tidbit did not elude one of the great minds in NFL history.

The moral of the story is anything could happen this Sunday. The Broncos no doubt will have their guns loaded, and there’s no such thing as shutting down Manning—best you can hope for is limiting him. I don’t recall many people giving the Eagles much of a chance in 2010 though, but Vick and co. managed to surprise the Colts. Anyone believe they’re poised to do it again?

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NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.