What constitutes a game-winning drive? Simply put, it's when a team secures or wrestles away the lead late in a one-possession game, rescuing their standings outlook and building character within the clutch.
Michael Vick not only drove his offense to a 17-16 "vicktory" over the Cleveland Browns, but he essentially saved the Eagles' season, his starting job, and (temporarily) his image as an NFL quarterback.
In Week One. Against the Cleveland Browns.
How many treats - two $100 million contracts, a resurrection from social infamy, and some shirts - do we have to bribe this puppy with before he buries his old preposterous tricks?
Out of all 32 franchises, the one that should've been most sensitive to a potential 0-1 start is the nagging Dream Team of 2011, especially considering the level of competition they were facing.
Of course, now that Philadelphia is 1-0, Vick will not be crated, but as psychologically impressive as the 16-play 91-yard 5:07-long comeback actually was, his nose should still be rubbed in it.
Between barbecued ribs and manicured thumbs, Vick's injury prowess spared him from the majority of the preseason, where rookie backup Nick Foles shined and threatened.
Rust appeared to have coated the motivation to prove himself, as he hurled four aerial turnovers, including D'Qwell Jackson's pick-six early in the fourth quarter that put Cleveland up 16-10.
Vick was roughed up by the Browns' defense from the first snap onward, taking hit after hit as he - to his credit - attempted to stand firm and throw from the pocket. His custom flak jacket helped cushion the blow, but the overwhelming circumstances surrounding it only perpetuated his patented inconsistency.
Then, with 6:25 remaining and the ball at his own 9 yard line, Vick abruptly postponed any sideline doubts as though he spotted a squirrel at the opposite end of the field. Such a short memory and resilience is admittedly admirable in this setting.
The best part of the drive was that Michael Vick - out of the no huddle, no less - continued to throw the football. Yes, I'm still talking about the same guy.
Granted, 56 passing attempts (a career high) isn't ideal, particularly when it's Vick and he completes a meager 52 percent of them, but you know he was resisting the urge to chase his tail and scramble on every play.
Vick was 6-for-11 during the series, spreading the worth to his arsenal of Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, and Brent Celek, while interspersing handoffs to LeSean McCoy.
He couldn't ignore the itch of his fleas forever, though. On a 3rd-and-10 at Cleveland's 32, Vick rushed to the left for a 9-yard gain, until Ahtyba Rubin forced a fumble. Life both in Pennsylvania and Ohio as we know it flashed before our eyes like a pending collision with a mail truck, but he was able to recover it. McCoy converted on the ensuing 4th-down try.
He finished the day with 32 yards on 7 carries, and he didn't run since his avoided fifth turnover, even on 3rd-and-goal at the 4 - classic Vick Time.
Blocking was executed, and Vick's feet were never tempted to selfishly flinch forward out of the shotgun. He followed his reads, and just as pass protection began to crumble, he tossed the rubber newspaper through a tight window of two Browns' defenders and into Clay Harbor's leaning body at the goal line for the touchdown.
Such a "vicktorious" effort absolutely baffles everyone when we concern ourselves with the first 53:35 of this "superstar's" performance. Rex Ryan and company don't give New York this much grief.
Vick doesn't truly deserve all of the, or the blame. Maclin bailed him out with 7 receptions for 96 yards and a score, while the Eagles shackled themselves with 12 penalties. McCoy cashed in 110 yards but coughed up a rare fumble in the first quarter.
Above all, Vick's salary, position, and history handcuff him as the leader of the Philadelphia Eagles. His resurgence basically begged from all fours for a second chance in this league, and this talented yet fragile roster cannot survive four-interception outings and desperately playing from behind, a season removed from inexplicable disappointment.
That being said, it's extremely difficult to argue his mental toughness this time around. He also lasted the entire contest physically unscathed.
Versing the Cleveland Browns heals all wounds.
Neither Cleveland's defense nor their home field advantage should be taken lightly, but these heavy underdogs wasted a major opportunity to considerably shorten Philadelphia's leash and attain much needed momentum.
Instead, Trent Richardson accounted for 39 rushing yards, Brandon Weeden matched Vick with four picks himself (capped off by an interception on the very next offensive play), and the Browns were called for roughing the passer during the Eagles' drive to vicktory.
That mean, green, defensive machine is going to dictate the fates of Vick and Andy Reid in 2012 and beyond.
As for Weeden, at least he's a rookie. Vick - this annoying habit of urinating on the turf has long overstayed its welcome.
Catch up on all of the Drives to Victory from this past preseason.
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