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Michael Vick passed for two touchdowns and ran for one in the Eagles' season-opening win over the Redskins. (USA Today Images)
LANDOVER, Md. -- It was only one game. But what a game -- for Chip Kelly, for the offense, for the Eagles. For Michael Vick especially.
The Eagles had 12 losses last season, the second most in franchise history. They limped through so much of the season they should have swapped out their pads for crutches. Vick was part of that disappointment. A big part. He didn’t play all that well to start the year, then he got hurt. Even after he was healthy again and returned to the team, the Eagles gave his starting gig to an unproven rookie. Or maybe the unproven rookie took it from him. Either way.
Not surprisingly, when the season ended, a lot of people wanted the Eagles to show Vick the same door they pushed Andy Reid through. Vick was old and getting older, slow and getting slower, inaccurate and getting, uh, inaccurater. Or something. That was the thinking by those who wanted him gone.
Not everyone agreed. If you were a member of the tiny contingent that thought Vick was still the Eagles’ best option under center (or in the shotgun), you were likely shouted down by the anti-Vick faction or laughed at as some kind of loon.
There are fewer people laughing today.
It was only one game. But what a game.
Vick and the Eagles pushed past the Redskins in a 33-27 win at FedEx Field on Monday night (see Instant Replay). The Eagles’ offense tore apart Washington’s defense to the point where a cleaning crew should have come along to sweep up the tattered remains.
“I just like what we do,” said Vick, who took some big hits and was hobbling after the game. “I feel confident and comfortable with everything that Coach Kelly calls. We sit down and go through the game plan and make sure that everyone knows what we’re trying to do. It don’t get any better than that. We just have to keep working and continue working our tempo and doing things fast and making sure we’re on top of everything.”
You could see the promise in the Eagles’ offense right from the beginning. Vick led the Birds on an impressive 76-yard march on the first series of the game. That particular drive ended with the Redskins’ defense scoring a touchdown when a Vick pass was ruled a lateral/fumble. But still. The promise. It was right there, as obvious and in your face as the controversial Redskins logos stamped all over Washington’s stadium.
In the beginning, there were moments when Vick made mistakes, when he wasn’t as sharp as you probably hoped. In the first quarter, Vick missed on a slant to Zach Ertz in Redskins’ territory that would have been an easy touchdown for the tight end had the ball been thrown in front of him and not behind him. A little while later, Vick forced a ball toward Riley Cooper that could have been intercepted, but wasn’t.
So Vick wasn’t perfect. But boy was he good. The quarterback so many people wanted to discard suddenly looked like a keeper. Vick went 13-for-21 for 190 yards and two passing touchdowns while adding 10 rushing yards and another touchdown -- and that was just in the first half.
Vick finished with 257 total yards and a 112.6 quarterback rating. In the fourth quarter, he also had a 36-yard run, his longest since he ripped off a 53-yard dash against the Bills two years ago. After the game, Chip Kelly singled out that play, saying Vick helped snap the Eagles out of a “lull.”
As the game went on, Vick looked more comfortable. He zipped a terrific pass up the seam to Brent Celek for a touchdown, and he waited just long enough to find DeSean Jackson in the back of the end zone for another score. It helped, of course, that the offensive line afforded Vick so much time.
Whatever the reasons, Vick looked better than he has since the 2010 season when he put up cartoonish numbers that made the entire league gush about his triumphant return. He fell off after that, and there was some debate about whether his skills had atrophied or the system did him a disservice (or both).
Even as recently as this preseason -- while we charted reps between Vick and Nick Foles in an attempt to identify the eventual starter -- there were quite a lot of people who believed the Vick experiment had long ago fizzled as a result of inactive ingredients and suspect chemistry. Get rid of him, they cried. Start Foles, they shouted.
That chorus sounds so quiet now. Perhaps it will grow loud again at some point. Perhaps Vick will have an off game or two or several, and the mob will mobilize once more. Perhaps. But not today. Not after what happened in Washington on Monday night (see story).
“It was a crazy game,” Vick said. “I’ve never been a part of anything like it.”
It was only one game. But what a game.