For a team predicated on offense, in a league where quarterback is the most important position on the field, it was a scene straight out of a horror film.
No offensive lineman ever wants to see his quarterback laying on the turf, refusing to move or get up. Especially when that quarterback is Mike Vick.
The Eagles dropped Vick’s much-hyped Atlanta homecoming 35-31 Sunday night to the Falcons. Hopefully, they didn’t lose more than a point in the win-loss column. Vick, the face of the franchise, suffered a mild concussion late in the third quarter after colliding with right tackle Todd Herremans.
“I was just trying to get him up and he wanted to stay down there,” Herremans said. “I knew something was wrong. He really wasn’t saying much, he just wanted to stay on the ground at that point.”
Vick appeared to get pushed into Herremans and awkwardly hit his head on the tackle’s shoulder. Vick lay on the ground for a few seconds before exiting the game.
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“I think he hit me while he was going down. I didn’t see it. It felt like he hit me,” Herremans said. “I know he wanted to finish the game, he wants to finish the game wherever he goes.”
Vick stared blankly at the ground as trainers checked him out on the sideline. A few minutes later, he was taken into the locker room for testing. After the game, coach Andy Reid confirmed that Vick had suffered a concussion. The original diagnosis had been a neck injury. Second-year pro Mike Kafka relieved Vick, with Vince Young still inactive.
“You never like to see him down there but at the same point, we came back and we tried to score that drive basically for Mike,” said center Jason Kelce. “We tried to get the win for Mike. Obviously, we were unsuccessful with that.”
The Eagles did punch it into the end zone on that drive to extend their lead to 31-21. However, the Falcons came roaring back with 14 unanswered points. First, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan orchestrated a clock-consuming drive that ended with a 1-yard scoring toss to Ovie Mughelli. Then, Michael Turner gashed the Eagles’ defense with a 61-yard run, followed by a 3-yard touchdown.
“We were in a defense that was designed for the run. I don’t know what happened, we’ll have to go back and look at the tape,” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “But you could be stopping them the whole game and if they bust that one, then you’re in trouble – and we couldn’t stop them.”
“We have to get better from the situation,” safety Kurt Coleman said. “If we make the plays, then it’s not a 35-31 game. We just got to make the plays. That’s what they pay us to do and this week we didn’t get it done.”
Meanwhile, Kafka got some on-the-job training and went 7-of-9 for 72 yards in relief. He marched the Eagles down the field in the closing minutes but his final throw, on 4th-and-4, slipped through the hands of Jeremy Maclin (13 catches, 171 yards, two Tds). The Eagles turned the ball over on downs and the Falcons ran out the clock.
“It was a good call,” LeSean McCoy said. “We had it. He just dropped the pass.”
But losing a tough road game in September isn’t the end of the world. Losing Vick for an extended period of time would certainly curb that Super Bowl chatter. Vick will be re-evaluated Monday in Philadelphia.
If the Eagles follow the usual protocol for concussions, Vick would probably miss at least one game. In that scenario, Reid would have to decide whether Young (hamstring) is healthy enough to start or stick with Kafka next week against the N.Y. Giants.
“We did some good things, we did some bad things,” Herremans said. “Life goes on, we got another game to play. Without question, we have full confidence in Vince or Mike.”
No matter who is ling up under center, the team needs to do a better job picking up blitzes. Even though Vick wasn’t sacked, he was constantly under duress and fumbled three times (losing two of them).
“Yeah, I take the blame for a lot of that,” McCoy said. “I got confused on some blitzes and some things you just wish you could have back. As a unit, myself included, we have to protect Mike better.”