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He may not be the greatest to ever play the game, but everyone can agree that he was the most electrifying superstar the NFL has ever seen. He revolutionized and redefined the term “mobile quarterback”, he was considered by many to be the most elusive quarterback to ever step foot on the football field. He changed the world of football forever, and took the league by storm. Vick had intangible talent and an effect on players that could never show on the stat sheet. I’ve idolized Mike Vick ever since I first saw the big picture on his whole career, and my love for his story only grew when I saw one of the greatest rivalry games in history. This game alone, defined who he was as a person and player.
If you look only at his career passing stats in Virginia Tech you would have thought he was on his way to being a flop in the NFL. He finished college and declared for the draft with a mediocre stat line 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, completing 56% of his passes with a passer rating of 150.6. However his rushing stats definitely turned heads with 235 rushes, 1,299 yards, and 17 touchdowns across just 22 career games. This was enough to spark the interest of the quarterback needy, Atlanta Falcons, who took Vick with the first overall pick in 2001. He had a lackluster rookie season where he played only eight games. He completed only 44.2% of his passes and threw for 785 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He rushed 31 times for 289 yards and 1 touchdown. He had 6 runs between 20 and 39 yards with only 1 fumble all season.
Mike Vick will be forever remembered in infamy for being arrested for his involvement in a dog fighting ring. Vick caught major, negative media attention. He was the talking point of sports talk shows for months before pleading guilty, giving him a sentence of 18 months. Vick missed 3 years of NFL action.
Vick, however, was determined to make a comeback to the NFL, and just as everyone forgot about him, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2009 season. Many could argue that Vick had his best years with the Eagles. He played his only 16 game season with Philly and had 2 consecutive seasons in which he passed for more than 3,000 yards, and in both seasons he rushed for more than 580 yards. At this point it seemed that Vick was disproving all the doubters after 3 seasons off and 1 season to get back into his groove. He looked like he hadn’t lost a step.
Just like every other legendary quarterback, Vick had that one epic game that will always standout in his career.
It’s week 15 of the 2010 NFL season and the high flying offense of the 10-4 Eagles are looking to pick up a NFC East win over the New York Giants who are 9-5 and looking to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Giants got off to a red hot start, putting up 24 points in the first half alone, courtesy of Eli Manning and his talented receivers. The Giants defense was not having an off day either, as they allowed only 3 points and forcing 2 turnovers in the first half, the second one set up an 8 yard touchdown pass from Manning with five seconds remaining in the second quarter.
With things looking dark for the Eagles, who were down 24-3, they came out of the locker room showing no signs of life. They punt after Vick is sacked on the third play of the half. Following an empty possession from both teams the Giants got the ball back with 5 minutes and 50 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Giants ran the ball on the 1st play of the drive and the play was blown up for a loss of 2 yards. The very next play was a completed pass which was fumbled and recovered by the Eagles defense. This was the turning point of a game which went from a forgettable blowout to a classic. The Eagles offense immediately capitalized on this opportunity and with just 3 plays the Eagles went a quick 25 yards for a touchdown pass from Vick. The score was 10-24 at the end of the 3rd quarter with the chance for the Giants to put the game away. They answered with a 41 yard empty possession where they punted from the Eagles’ 46 yard line. Mike Vick and his Eagles set up at the 20 yard line, poised to answer back and bring the game to within 7 points. On the first play of the drive Vick found wide receiver Desean Jackson, who fumbled the ball and gave it right back to the Giants. This setup Eli Manning to cap off the following drive with an 8 yard touchdown and strike a dagger through the hearts of the Eagles. Vick was not discouraged, however. He came back out with nothing but victory on his mind. He uncorked a 65 yard bomb to his tight end, Brent Celek, for a touchdown to bring the game back to within 14. With 7 minutes and 28 seconds left in the game, the Eagles successfully attempted an onside kick. From New York’s 44 yard line, Vick dropped back to pass. The Giants called a blitz right up the middle and a linebacker came in untouched. Vick was sure to get smoked. The talented quarterback pulled off an impossible play, he ducked and side stepped the defender and sprinted down the middle of the field before sliding at the 9 yard line for a 35 yard gain. Vick drew the Giants off sides for a 5 yard penalty and set up a 4 yard scramble to the end zone for a touchdown.
The Eagles kicked the ball back to the 10 but was returned up to the 35 yard line where Manning would make an attempt to finally end this game. After a quick 2 plays the Giants had the ball on the 46 in Philadelphia territory. They simply ran the ball 2 yards to set up 3rd and 1. The Eagles use their 1st timeout and hope for a game changing stop, but give up 2 yards the following play. Another timeout. At this point, the Giants are at the 42 and knocking on the door of field goal range. They run for 4 yards and almost getting in range for a put away field goal with wind blasting them in the face, and the Eagles call their final timeout. 2nd and 6, an easy down to run the ball and eat away at the clock, but whistles blow and flags fly as a Giants player moved a bit too early. The penalty sends them back to the 43 to make it 2 and 11. The next play they run for only 3 yards and the defense is suffocating the fire of the Giants’ offense. Eli throws an incompletion on a tough 3rd and 8 and New York sends in the punter to pin Vick and his offense back deep.
The punt sets up Vick at the 12 and he throws two incomplete passes right out of the gate. On 3rd and 10 New York decided to bring heat with 7 rushers in hopes of overwhelming Vick. Vick immediately sniffed out the blitz and booked it to the left side. He ran all the way to the Eagles’ 45 before smartly stepping out of bounds. Three plays later Vick took off again and gained 22 yards to get the ball to the 20 as the two minute warning hit. Two quick plays later, Vick fired a pass to Jeremy Maclin for a 13 yard touchdown to tie the game up at 31.
Manning tried to rally his troops to answer back and steal the game back. Two incompletions and a sack later the Giants had 4th and 17 with 16 seconds to go as they called a timeout. Matt Dodge, the punter, was sent on to complete a simple task. Punt the ball deep and out of bounds. Dodge did neither of those things. However, the returner, Desean Jackson, muffed the punt but quickly picked it back up. As soon as he looked up he had defenders in his face, but Jackson planted his foot and took them head on as he weaved and cut his way through a field of Giants for a 65 yard, game winning, touchdown return as time expired, capping off a comeback which would be fittingly labeled “Miracle at the New Meadowlands”.
Mike Vick may not have been the greatest quarterback to ever play, but when he did play, he was worth the price of admission alone. Vick never quit, even when everyone considered him to be down and out. He showed everyone, everywhere that, no matter the circumstances, you should never count yourself out.