Vick leads Eagles in stunning comeback

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick scores a touchdown against the Giants in East Rutherford, New...

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick scores a touchdown against the Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey on December 19, 2010. (MIKE SEGAR/Reuters)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

TORONTO - Michael Vick’s glory road to redemption hit a roadblock Sunday.

As usual, the Eagles quarterback found a detour to victory.

Vick led a furious Eagles comeback that included four touchdowns in the final 7:28 to send the Giants to a stunning 38-31 defeat.

“I’ve never been around anything like this in my life,” dismayed Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It’s about as empty as you get to feel in this business right there.”

DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return on the final play was the margin of victory that puts the Eagles in control of the NFC East championship. It was also the first time in NFL history that a game ended with a punt return for a touchdown.

Until the fourth quarter this game was completely dominated by the Giants. When it was over with Jackson backing into the end zone, Coughlin was so angry he fired his headset to the turf and screamed at rookie punter Matt Dodge.

The Giants held a 24-3 lead at half-time. This was about more than a punter mistakenly not kicking the ball away from a return man; this was about a complete team meltdown. This was about Vick putting his stamp on the MVP award.

The Giants had been able to do what no team has been able to do before this season. They stymied, harassed, frustrated and stalled Vick and the Eagles offence. Meanwhile, Eli Manning threw four TD passes including two to Mario Manningham. Three times they victimized Dimitri Patterson.

But when it was all over, Patterson and Vick were grinning and Mannigham was one of the goats.

His fumble in the third quarter gave the Eagles life when he simply dropped the ball before stepping out of bounds. Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for a TD and the Eagles were down 24-10.

It still should’ve been over. The Giants didn’t let Jackson (who had 210 yards receiving last week) catch a pass until less than a minute to play in the third quarter. Manning’s pass to Kevin Boss put New York up 31-10 and, with 7:28 left, the battle for first place felt more like a picnic at the Meadowlands.

Then Vick and his ant patrol showed up.

He hit Brent Celek with a 65-yarder as the Giants blitz caught up with them.

David Akers dropped an onside kick on the unsuspecting Giants and suddenly Vick started to find holes with his scrambling. He ran 35 yards. The Giants started to unravel with Justin Tuck taking a penalty and Vick’s quarterback draw went for a TD to cut the lead to 31-24.

Manning missed on third down, Vick got the ball with no time outs. No problem. He scampered 33 yards around the edge to go over 100 for the game, then went up the gut to the New York 20. He hit Maclin — tie game.

New York had 70 seconds to take it down for a field goal but instead were forced to punt with 14 seconds. Dodge hit it directly at Jackson. “The young punter was told, ‘Punt out of bounds.’ [He] got a high snap and didn’t feel like he could,” Coughlin said.

Jackson bobbled it, and went 65 yards for glory.

“Panic,” Jackson said when asked what went through his mind when he fumbled the punt. “But I was able to focus and find the ball really quick. I looked up and the first thing I saw was that seam.”

As time ran down, Jackson skirted the goal line before stepping in: “People can say what they want, that I’m arrogant, that I’m a showboat ... but I was just trying to get to the double-zeroes [on the clock],” Jackson said.

Coughlin hurled his notes to ground in disgust.

Dodge lay face down on the turf. Giants players buried heads in towels on the bench as the Eagles leapt and danced like kids.

“I’ve got no words. No words,” said Jackson, “that’s just unbelievable.”

Vick ended up throwing for 242 yards and running for another 130. It was only the third time in the past 70 years the Giants lost a game they led by at least 21 points at half-time. The win moves Philadelphia into first and likely gives them the NFC East championship.

The loss could cripple the Giants’ playoff hopes. They need to win at Green Bay and Washington to clinch a post-season berth and the Packers game will be crucial, especially because the final playoff spot might come down to head to head with New York and Green Bay.

Quick hits

Carolina defensive end Tyler Brayton was fined $15,000 US by the NFL for hitting Atlanta’s Chris Owens out of bounds in last week’s game. The fine was levied Friday, but not made public ... Lions’ Calvin Johnson had 152 yards on 10 catches ... Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall rushed 17 times for 100 yards to become the first 100-yard rusher the Jets have allowed since November of 2009.


Videos

Photos