Michael Vick certainly didn’t look like he was starting his first game in three and a half years.
The Eagles’ backup quarterback played like an All-Pro as he lead Philadelphia to a 35-32 win over the Detroit Lions, who scored 15 straight in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs to seal their fate. Vick completed 21 of 34 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 108.0 passer rating.
Vick was clearly a star on Sunday and was popular among his teammates—he spread the ball around to nine receivers—but he wasn’t the only one shining all afternoon. LeSean McCoy had a career day and established the run early on, running 16 times for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Along with his first multi-run touchdown game and his first 100-yard game of his career, it was the first time in 15 years that the Eagles had a running back rush for three touchdowns in one game, which Charlie Garner did in 1995.
The defense had most of the greater Philadelphia area holding their breath in the fourth quarter, but there were some bright moments despite allowing nearly 450 yards of total offense on the day. Rookie defensive end Brandon Graham registered his first career sack while Juqua Parker recorded his third of the season. Omar Gaither, filling in at middle linebacker for the concussed Shawn Bradley, lead the team with 11 solo tackles with two going for a loss. Rookie safety Nate Allen had four solo tackles along with his second career interception on the opening drive and became just the second Eagles’ rookie to record interceptions in his first two games.
Allen’ interception came on a long pass to the end zone from Detroit’s quarterback Shaun Hill to end a good-looking drive by the Lions, who kept the ball moving and had three first downs. Five plays later, Vick found DeSean Jackson in the middle of the field who then outran five Detroit defenders for a 45-yard touchdown. Jackson finished the day with four receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown, with his longest reception going for 53 yards.
Detroit then rattled off the next 17 points and got rookie running back Jahvid Best rolling with two touchdowns before the half. First, Detroit responded to the Eagles’ touchdown with an all-run drive capped by a 14-yard rush by Best up the middle. The Lions then opened the second quarter with a 49-yard field goal, and on the next drive Hill hit Best on a screen pass for a 75-yard touchdown. Best accounted for over half of the Lions’ total offense with 232, rushing for 78 along with 154 yards on nine receptions.
The Eagles had the last laugh in the first half, however, first on a 14-yard rush by McCoy and later on a nine-yard pass from Vick to Jeremy Maclin, which capped an 89 yard, seven play drive that took just under a minute. Heading into halftime up 21-17, it appeared the Eagles would roll as long as Best could be contained.
In the third quarter, the Eagles punted their opening drive away but got the ball back after a quick three and out from Detroit. McCoy and Vick split the plays on the following drive which ended in a four-yard run, the only score in the third, and left the Eagles up 11 heading into the fourth.
After McCoy’s third touchdown rush, which came with about six and a half minutes left in the game, Philly’s defense began to implode. Working out of the no huddle offense most of the drive, the Lions scored on a two-yard rush by Best on a seven play, 84-yard drive which took just 2:04. Philly’s next drive was a three and out, and just seven plays later the Lions were within five points after a 19-yard connection from Hill to Calvin Johnson. Hill then hit Johnson again on a slant for the two point conversion, bringing the score to 35-32 with just under 2:00 left in the game.
The kickoff was an onside kick, which everyone expected. What wasn’t expected was for Riley Cooper to miss the ball, which the Lions then recovered on their 43 yard line. With the way the Eagles defense handled the past two drives, the fact that they shut down all four passing attempts by Shaun Hill to get the ball back was surprising to say the least. To call the defense’s overall performance poor would be a compliment, and aside from a few individual performances they will need to retool how they defend the run before they visit Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jags next week.
As far as Vick is concerned, we can expect to see him starting next Sunday against Jacksonville, especially after Sunday’s performance, right? Wrong, said Andy Reid, who told reporters before the game that both Bradley and Kevin Kolb were cleared by an independent doctor, and barring any setbacks Kolb will once again take the reigns for the Eagles. Vick said in his on-field interview with FOX after the game he knows the team is Kolb’s and he can’t wait to see him in action whenever he’s ready. We’ll see how steadfast Reid is in his backing of Kolb if he falters in week three before the game everyone’s been waiting for in week four: the return of #5.