Michael Vick completed 16 of 26 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns Sunday night against the Cowboys.
For the first time all season, he turned the ball over twice. And he was limited to 16 yards rushing, a season-low.
For the sixth time in eight starts, Vick completed more than 60 percent of his passes. And for the second straight week, the Eagles entered the fourth quarter trailing, but still managed to win.
Here's the weekly breakdown of how he performed. As always, let's start with pass distribution.
| ||Targets ||Catches ||Yards ||YAC ||Drops |
|TOTALS ||24 ||16 ||270 ||125 ||2 |
Other than the four big plays to Jackson, there wasn't much of a passing game. Jackson accounted for nearly 78 percent of the receiving yards.
Maclin had a season-low 11 yards on one catch, but as I mentioned in Man Up, it was good to see him still do some little things well like block downfield on a couple of the big plays by Jackson and LeSean McCoy. Maclin had four catches or more in his previous eight games.
Who could have predicted that Herremans would have had more catches and yards than Celek? McCoy was held to 4 yards receiving, a season-low. He actually had a chance for a couple big gains in the passing game, but Cowboys defenders made excellent plays against him.
Avant only had three catches, but a couple were on third down, which helped the Eagles extend an important drive in the second half.
The 119 yards after the catch by Jackson were huge. In addition to the 91-yard grab, he picked up some YAC on a 37-yard catch in the first half.
Hall had a drop on a third down. It wasn't an easy catch, but after watching the replay, I think he should have made it. And Maclin let the ball go through his hands on the second interception. Vick threw the ball away twice by my count.
THE BLITZ, PRESSURE, SHOTGUN, ETC.
The Cowboys blitzed Vick often and effectively. Vick dropped back to pass 30 times, and the Cowboys sent five or more defenders at him on 14 of those occasions (47 percent).
Vick completed just 6-of-11 passes for 16 yards against the blitz. That equates to a quarterback rating of 60.3 and a yards per attempt of 1.45. The Eagles' biggest pass play against the blitz was an 11-yard completion to Cooper.
All season, Vick has been able to hit on some big pass plays against the blitz, but he failed to burn the Cowboys Sunday when they sent extra defenders. He also had runs of 1 yard and 6 yards against the blitz and was sacked once.
In the pocket, Vick was 13-for-21 for 250 yards. Outside the pocket, he was 3-for-5 for 20 yards.
For the second straight week, Vick operated under center more than usual. On those throws, he was 9-for-14 for 221 yards. From the shotgun, he was 7-for-12 for 49 yards.
Big yards of fake handoffs and play-action. On those throws, Vick was 6-for-10 for 188 yards.
THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE
The Eagles were 4-for-11 on third down. On nine occasions, the ball was in Vick's hands on third down, and three of those times, the Eagles picked up a first. Vick was 4-for-6 for 31 yards on third down. He was sacked once and scrambled twice (for 1 yard and 2 yards, respectively).
Who were the most frequent targets on third down? How about Hall and Avant? Maclin did not get a third-down target. Jackson and Herremans got one each. The Eagles are 17-for-50 (34 percent) on third down in their last four games.
The Eagles were 2-for-4 in the red zone. Vick was 4-for-5 for 16 yards and a touchdown in the red zone. The strangest red-zone pass distribution you'll see all season. Two completions went to Hall, one to Owen Schmitt and one to Herremans. Zero targets to Maclin in the red zone; he's been their best receiver down there all season.
On the first drive, Vick ran it in for a touchdown. On the second red-zone chance, he hit Herremans for a score. Vick took a sack on the third possession, and the Eagles settled for a field goal. He did not attempt a pass on the fourth red-zone possession, but did have a 2-yard run.
In the past two weeks, the Eagles are 6-for-10 in the red zone.
SUCCESS BY DISTANCE
Here's a chart of Vick's throws by distance. I used the same ranges that Football Outsiders uses so we'd have a point of reference. Short is 5 yards or less. Mid is 6 to 15 yards. Deep is 16 to 25 yards. And Bomb is more than 25 yards. These are measured from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball is touched, hits the ground or goes out of bounds.
| ||Completions ||Attempts ||Yards |
|Short ||8 ||10 ||13 |
|Mid ||6 ||8 ||175 |
|Deep ||1 ||1 ||22 |
|Bomb ||1 ||5 ||60 |
As you can see, the Eagles got nothing out of the short passing game. Quite a contrast from the Texans game when Vick averaged a whopping 7.9 yards per attempt on the short throws.
But the Mid throws were very effective.
The one Bomb throw was the 60-yarder to open the game to Jackson. And the Deep completion was to Jackson also.
This game was different from the previous ones the Eagles played with Vick at quarterback. The Eagles did not rely on him as much as they had been. Jackson really deserves most of the credit for the offense's success. That 91-yard catch and run was a game-changer.
McCoy and the O-line's run-blocking in the fourth quarter were huge also. The Eagles took over with 4:22 left, and the Cowboys had three timeouts. In the past, that's not usually a situation where you say They'll run the clock out here and go home with a win. But that's exactly what happened. McCoy carried four times for 50 yards, and the Eagles' offensive line punished the Cowboys' defense.
Really, that's the most encouraging thing to take from this game. The offense showed it could run the ball effectively when everyone in the stadium knew they needed to.
If they can do that against good defenses down the stretch and in the playoffs, it adds a completely new and dangerous element for opponents to have to worry about.
As for Vick, I thought he was OK. He wasn't able to make as many plays with his legs, and he once again absorbed some big hits. Protection wasn't great, and he missed some throws, but Vick still ended up with a QB rating of 90.2. The Eagles are now 7-1 in games that he starts and finishes.
I generally don't read too much into body language or leadership, but it was certainly encouraging to see Vick tell his teammates that they're not done yet after Sunday's game, almost like a coach calming everyone down and reminding them that there's still a long way to go. Everyone's been talking for weeks about how the key is to keep Vick upright. And that's true. But it's not going to come from Vick changing his style of play or the offensive line dramatically improving. We're already in Week 15.
Sunday will be fun to watch. The Giants knocked him around a little the first time the teams met, and this is the biggest game Vick's started in more than four years. With a win, he'll have this team on a straight path to its first NFC East title since 2006.