ABOVE PHOTO: Michael Vick said the running game kept Giants defenders from knocking him out.
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
As much as Andy Reid would hate to admit it, the Eagles seem to find their way into the win column even when they are not trying to pass the ball on virtually every down.
In a tough 19-17 win over the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night, the Eagles balance on offense did just enough to slow the G-men’s defensive line enough to keep them from teeing off on quarterback Michael Vick.
“Every quarterback plays better when you can run the ball,” said receiver Jason Avant. “The defense is off-balance. A lot of times there’s one less defender in passing game because they’re trying to stop the run. It’s a better thing for a quarterback.”
The Eagles rediscovered running back LeSean McCoy, who gained 123 yards rushing on 23 carries. For the game, the Birds rushed for 191 yards on the ground including 42 yards from Vick himself.
Speaking of the Eagles’ quarterback.
Vick finally made it through a game without tossing an interception or fumble the football. He was 19-of-30 for 241 yards and one touchdown. He had a quarterback rating of 99.4. He said the running game made the difference for him.
“I think it’s easier on everybody when the run game is clicking,” Vick said. “It doesn’t allow the defense to tee off and pin their ears back. That’s something they want to do and you just can’t allow them to do that. If you give them the liberty to free-rush the passer, they’re going to knock you out.”
Vick did take his share of hits and was sacked twice, but it wasn’t with the ferocity that the Arizona Cardinals hit him with last week. More importantly, he made some good decisions with the football. Vick didn’t try to force anything that wasn’t there and made some smart decisions with the football. He found his hot reads on the blitz.
“That’s a good thing and we’re making progress in the right direction,” Reid said. “We were able to get the ball out a little quicker. I thought (offensive coordinator) Marty Mornhinweg did a heck of a job calling plays. Receivers were getting themselves open, and the offensive line and the running backs-everybody picked up their game, and we actually got into a rhythm, which was huge.”
Vick led another fourth comeback for the Eagles. With his team trailing 17-16 with 6:38 left in the game, the former Virginia Tech star led the Birds on an 12-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 4:56 and led to Alex Henery’s go-ahead 26-yard field goal with 1:49 left.
Meanwhile, the Eagles defense had another stellar effort in which they stopped an opposing team for scoring in the game’s final minutes. That was something the Eagles didn’t do enough of last season.
“We want to be the No. 1 defense in the league and anything short of that is shorting ourselves,” said defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. “So we’re going to keep fighting and keep going out there no matter what the situation is. and prove that we’re the best.”
If there was anybody that exemplified what Jenkins was talking about it was Domonique Rogers-Cromartie. Late in the third quarter, with the Eagles up 13-10, Rogers-Cromartie was burned by Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz for a 30-yard gain on a 4th and one play.
But on first and 10 from the Eagles 10-yard line, Rogers-Cromartie intercepted an Eli Manning pass in the endzone on a play that swung the momentum of the game in the Birds favor.
“You can’t hang your head as a corner,” Rogers-Cromartie said. “This is the NFL, you’re going to get caught on. …I don’t know a DB that’s gonna shutdown everybody. It’s a long game, you just gotta stay out there and fight.”