A broken right hand hit the snooze button on this Dream Team.
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Michael Vick followed up a concussion with a non-displaced fracture of his non-throwing hand, an injury that once again showed that the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl birthright won’t happen if the nimble quarterback can’t stay on the field. A 29-16 New York Giants victory on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was the second game in a row the Eagles squandered a fourth-quarter lead as Vick was largely made a spectator.
“I’m conscious of my safety,” said Vick after his team dropped to 1-2. “I want to play the game and protect myself at all times, even though I sometimes can’t. I trust my offensive linemen and I want to stay healthy for my team. I just got to do more. It’s something I’m not doing right.”
Much like when he hit his own lineman in a helmet-to-helmet collision in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons, Vick’s injury with 6:04 left in the third quarter was also a bit unusual. Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty trapped Vick’s right hand in his own equipment a moment after Vick found receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 23-yard gain.
Referee Jeff Triplette helped Vick off the turf, but he didn’t throw a flag.
“Everybody has seen the game,” Vick said “I’m on the ground constantly. All the time. Every time I throw the ball I’m on the ground. I get hit in the head. I don’t know why I don’t get the 15-yard flags like everybody else does.
“I’m not blaming the referees by any stretch. Let’s not get it twisted here. I’m just saying everybody on the field should do their job.”
Let’s not parse those words too closely. While you may have your own theories on why Vick doesn’t get the calls, the fact remains that Vick — mostly due to his scrambling ability — puts himself in more danger than a typical pocket passer. That also makes him one of the game’s most dynamic quarterbacks and worthy of that six-year, $100 million contract.
That’s if he stays healthy.
“I think everybody is kind of worried about it,” Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson said. “He’s a dual threat with how he can throw and run the ball. We just have to be able to keep him healthy.”
The alternatives — whether that’s Mike Kafka or Vince Young — aren’t appealing.
Kafka’s first pass was picked off by Giants cornerback Aaron Ross and his final pass was hauled in by safety Kenny Phillips. Kafka finished 4-for-7 for 35 yards; Young (hamstring) was active for the first time this season, but did not play.
“I still feel real confident,” Kafka said. “There are things we can learn from and I can learn. I’m going to take that with me, forget the bad stuff and move forward.”
Vick said he didn’t know whether he’d be ready when the Eagles host the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday. But even before his hand injury, Vick wasn’t his typical self behind center — something Giants running back Brandon Jacobs made note of after the game.
“I’m surprised that Michael was not more involved in big plays in the game,” Jacobs said. “I guess he couldn’t think straight today.”
Vick took a solid knock with three minutes left in the first quarter after he fled the pocket and turned into Giants lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, who got credited with the sack. Vick hopped right back up and hustled over to the sideline after the third-down play.
Vick’s decision-making also wasn’t crisp. He could have easily tossed three interceptions in the first half. The one pick he did throw wasn’t all his fault, even if he held the ball a little too long as he danced in the backfield. His pass bounced off receiver Steve Smith and over to Ross, cutting short a drive that had reached New York’s 19.
Michael Boley and Phillips got their hands on Vick’s passes, but dropped the would-be picks.
Vick also may have lost track of downs when the Eagles hurried the field-goal unit on as the first half came to an end. (Alex Henery was good from 38 yards as time expired.)
“My head was fine,” Vick said. “I took some shots early and they didn’t affect me and I just tried to keep going. I was seeing things clearly (and) felt good in the pocket. Obviously, I wish we would have done better in the red zone.”
Vick may have had one pick and he fumbled before he lost track of downs at the end of the second half, but the failings weren’t all his. The Eagles’ play calling — handled by head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg — also deserves some scrutiny after his team scored just one touchdown in four trips inside the Giants’ 20.
Already trailing 14-0, a screen was called on second down on the Giants’ 3 and then another short passing play was called on third down midway through the second quarter. The Eagles settled for a field goal.
After the injury but before the X-rays, Vick failed to convert on the QB sneak on second-and-goal from the Giants’ 1. That play failed to gain any yardage and fullback Owen Schmitt actually lost two yards on the next play, forcing the Eagles to kick another field goal.
The Eagles had a 16-14 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter when Reid decided to go for it on fourth down near midfield. LeSean McCoy needed one yard, but he lost two. (That was also Vick’s last play of the game.) The Giants took a lead they wouldn’t surrender moments later as Eli Manning found a leaping Victor Cruz for a 28-yard touchdown.
The Eagles have been outscored 29-0 in the fourth quarter the last two games. It’s no coincidence Vick has played all of three minutes, 13 seconds during that span.
“It’s tough,” Vick said. “Everything isn’t going to be fine and dandy and we understand that. This is the National Football League. Just because we’re in this situation right now, thing could change drastically over the next couple weeks.”