Sunday, November 21, 2010

Slick Vick's Impeccable Performance

When watching a football game that quickly becomes a blowout, unless it’s my team (the Minnesota Vikings) and I’m still blindly hopeful for a come back, my interest fades immensely and I turn the station. That was not the case during the Philadelphia Eagles 31-point romp over the Washington Redskins on Monday, Nov.15.

The Monday Night Football match-up that night -- which featured the 5-3 Eagles visiting the 4-4 Redskins -- provided one of the most masterful individual performances ever.

Philly’s quarterback was a man who had been imprisoned for two years before being acquired for a bench role in the 2009 season. Washington’s pigskin passer was an accomplished veteran who, earlier that day, signed a 5-year, $78 million contract.

On that night in the Nation’s capital, it was Eagles QB Michael Vick, not former-Eagle-turned-Redskin Donovan McNabb, who turned in the performance of a lifetime. Vick’s impeccable dominance was so breathtaking that -- despite Philly’s 28-0 lead 13 minutes into the game -- it commanded my jaw-dropping attention all the way to the final tick.

The Eagles went on to win that game 59-28, but the score serves no justice in describing the amazement of Vick’s pinpoint passing and superb slashing ability that night in D.C.

Vick’s record-setting night ended with a stat-line of 20-for-28 with 333 yards, 4 passing touchdowns, along with 8 carries for 80 rush yards and another 2 TDs on the ground. With those numbers, Vick not only brought joy to millions of fantasy football owners across the country, they added up to a remarkable 150.7 (near-perfect) quarterback rating.

But even the incomprehensible numbers cannot serve Vick’s night justice. This game was one of those instant classics with a see-it-to-believe-it feel.

Slick Vick, who’s jersey was immediately shipped off to Canton (for the Pro Football Hall of Fame), shattered several records that night -- both for Monday Night Football games and NFL games all together.

Some statistical anomalies to mention from that night include Vick’s phenomenal beginning of the game (completing all eight of his first-quarter passes for 181 yards and two TDs, and going 10-for-10 before throwing his first incomplete pass), Philadelphia’s yardage advantage in the first half (Eagles, 280, Redskins, 23) and the game’s final score,59-28, the first such score in NFL history.

Here are 10 other records or noteworthy items from last Monday’s game that Vick either made or contributed to:

* Vick became the first quarterback ever to pass for 300 yards, 4 pass TDs, 50 rushing yards and 2 rush TDs in a game.

* Vick’s 88-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson was the longest first play of a game in franchise history. (The play was also the longest TD from scrimmage in both Vick and Jackson’s careers)

* The aforementioned play was also the longest TD pass in a game’s opening minute in 41 years -- when Los Angeles Rams QB Roman Gabriel threw a 93-yard touchdown pass to Wendell Tuck in the Rams 41-30 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 9, 1969.

* Vick’s quarterback rating for that game, 150.7, was a personal-best and 7.6 points from a perfect rating (158.3).

* Vick’s 80 rushing yards vaulted him past Hall of Fame QB Steve Young for No. 2 on the list of career rushing yards for an NFL quarterback -- his 4,295 rush yards trail only Randall Cunningham (4,928).

* Vick’s 413 yards from scrimmage immensely contributed to the Eagles’ 592 net total of offensive yards -- a record-high for Philadelphia’s 77-year-old franchise.

* Philadelphia’s 45 points in the first half were the most ever for a half in team history.

* The Eagles’ 59 points were the most the team scored since the 64 points Philadelphia amassed in a 1934 game against the Cincinnati Reds (and, yes, this was a football team not Cincinnati’s renown professional baseball team).

* Philadelphia’s point total (59) was also the most scored in a game in Monday Night Football’s 40-year existence.

* The Eagles’ 28-0 lead after the first quarter marked the biggest first-quarter lead for a road team in the NFL since 1950.

On top of those statistical gems, how about this oddly coincidental tidbit of trivia:

The 332 passing yards and 260 rushing yards Philadelphia tallied that night marked only the second time in the last 30 seasons that an NFL team recorded at least 300 pass yards and 250 rush yards in a single game. The other? Coincidentally, it was a game on Oct. 30, 2005 between the Eagles and Denver Broncos featuring (guess who?) the same head coaches involved in Monday’s game -- Philadelphia’s Andy Reid and Denver’s Mike Shanahan (who now coaches the Redskins).

Another interesting note regarding the game is that Vick’s dominance outshined McNabb, who coincidentally was the primary reason Philadelphia acquired Vick last season.

After spending his first six seasons in Atlanta, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison for operating an illegal dogfighting ring. Upon his release, the ex-Falcons QB hoped to attain another opportunity with an NFL team. However, at this point Atlanta had turned over a new leaf with its 2008 1st round pick (3rd overall), Matt Ryan. Outside of Atlanta, several other teams had their reservations about Vick as well. However, McNabb, Philadelphia’s quarterback at the time, was a friend of Vick’s and suggested that the Eagles acquire him. Sure enough, they signed Vick before the 2009 season as Philly’s 3rd-string quarterback (behind McNabb and Kevin Kolb).

A year later, after an injury to Kolb in the Eagles week one game versus Green Bay, Vick was inserted into the game and showed signs of the brilliance that made him a star in Atlanta. Three weeks later -- after Vick led the Eagles to wins over Detroit and Jacksonville -- in his team’s Oct. 3 home game versus Washington, Vick suffered a hip injury and had to leave the game early.

The 30-year-old would miss four weeks, then successfully return from his injury on Nov. 7. On that day, Vick led his Eagles past Peyton Manning and the reigning AFC champion Colts (completing 17-of-29 passes for 218 yards and 1 TD, while rushing for 74 yards and another touchdown). Then he followed up that performance with his near-flawless gem Monday night.

So, what will Vick and the Eagles do for an encore? Football fans will soon find out as the Philadelphia (6-3) hosts NFC East rival New York (also 6-3) in a battle for division supremacy. As with last week’s game, this game will also be under the national spotlight as the Eagles and Giants are the featured Sunday night game of the week. Kickoff is set for 7:20pm (CT) on NBC.

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