November 16, 2010
...and then just got better. That 88-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson(notes) was the first in a series of amazing plays that left Vick as the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns in a single game. In their 59-28 thrashing of their division rivals, the Eagles set single-game team records for total yards in a game with 592 and points in a half with 45.
It was a thorough domination -- an absolute embarrassment for the Redskins' defense -- and Vick was at the center of it all. While Washington was busy celebrating the five-year contract extension given to Donovan McNabb(notes), Vick -- who is making $3.75 million plus a $1.5 million roster bonus in 2010 -- totally outperformed his longtime friend. Vick finished the game with 20 completions and four passing touchdowns in 28 attempts for 333 yards and the aforementioned two rushing scores.
And it wasn't just that Vick scored; it was how he did it. With every flick of his wrist, footballs were traveling 40 yards with deadly accuracy. The strategy from Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to put a spy in the person of safety LaRon Landry(notes) was a debacle; Vick frequently exploited the holes in the intermediate zones left by Landry when he cheated up to run with Vick. The primary difference between the Vick that basically ran a one-trick speed option offense with the Atlanta Falcons and the new, more polished quarterback we see today is his ability and willingness to read the field and diagnose his potential open receivers before taking off on the run. When he does hit the jets, he turns the Eagles' offense from one in which the deep ball is a supreme weapon to a seemingly indefensible series of weapons that left the Redskins with no answers.
Perhaps most impressive is the fact that in 125 passing attempts, Vick still hasn't thrown an interception, and in 36 rushing attempts, he hasn't fumbled once.
And as it is with any great quarterback, Vick made everyone around him look better. Reserve players like Jerome Harrison(notes) and Jason Avant(notes) tore up the Washington defense because there were simply too many players doing too many great things for everyone to be accounted for. And for a guy who (deservedly) had his former life taken away from him in about the most drastic way possible, the New Vick seems an easier person to care about and find some empathy with -- it's a long haul for some, and that's not hard to understand, but anyone who looks at the larger reclamation story might find inspiration from this in some regard.
Michael Vick, who was given no chance to come back to the game by so many, now runs the most dangerous offense in the game. The sheer improbability of this comeback marks it as among the greatest in sports history, whether you like Michael Vick or not.
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