How Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson Made Us Kings of the World
At a time where stunning results have plastered the Philadelphia sports landscape, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson provided us with the most stunning result of all Sunday afternoon. Just when I was coming down from the high of Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies, I watched Jackson skipping horizontally along the goal line, his next step completing the most unreal sporting event I have ever witnessed in 25 years of covering sports in this town. [SIGNUP]
I swear to God, just after Jackson scored the touchdown that gave the Eagles a 38-31 victory over the Giants, I waited for some Hollywood director type to run out on the field and say, “OK, cut! Got it! Print!” It was as if this game, this result, was orchestrated on some movie set.
How else do you explain the Eagles soaring back from a 31-10 deficit with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter?
It takes a lot of skill, a lot of luck, and a contribution from the opposition to pull one off like this. And in losing, the New York Giants left their new stadium battered and bleeding, a pariah to themselves and their fans. This is a loss that hurts so bad, you wonder if the Giants can muster enough emotional energy to play a game this coming Sunday. In my experience following sports, the Giants now are the gutted cow, with no insides left. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they lose another game and spill out of the NFL playoffs.
Even professional players make the mistake of mental meltdowns. When the Giants went up in the game 31-10, in their heads they packed up the equipment and thought only about getting off the field and into their warm locker room, and celebrating their triumph — and the division championship of the NFC East — with a nice steak and a glass of cabernet.
The Giants made the mistake of allowing a long touchdown to a tight end, of all players, right down the middle of the field with the tight end being covered by a defensive end! And then the safety, who had one job and only one job — stop the tight end in his tracks with a jarring tackle — instead went for the ball, as if the Giants needed another interception. That touchdown from Brent Celek took exactly 49 seconds to score after the Eagles had gotten the ball back. It was THE key play of the game as it put the Eagles within striking range with more than seven minutes left in the game.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that his team thought the Eagles might try an onside kick after that Celek score. And yet, the coach didn’t have any member of his “hands team” on the field. The Giants lugs who were on the line stared at David Akers’ airborne onsides kick as if it were a rare bird in flight as Riley Cooper caught it in midair and fell to the ground. No Giant had moved forward to the ball!
And then Michael Vick just killed them.
He ducked out of a sack and rambled for 30. He darted around the left end taking advantage of a brain dead contain man who inexplicably cut inside when his responsibility was to contain outside. The Giants were falling apart! And they did, of course, in the most stunning, improbable circumstance we have seen, maybe ever.
Think about this: with eight minutes left in the game, the Eagles were hopelessly out of the game, on their way to a loss which may have eliminated them from the playoffs. The upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers were leading the Detroit Lions by three points. A Tampa Bay win would have put the Bucs on course for the playoff spot that the Eagles were giving up. Eight minutes later, the Eagles had won and the Bucs had allowed the Lions to tie the game and send it into overtime, where Tampa Bay would lose.
Michael Vick has achieved worship status in just three months in this city. Winning cures a lot of things, including a past for Vick that includes his participation in a truly heinous act. If the Eagles were scuffling along with a .500 record with no shot to make the playoffs and Vick was not playing at an MVP level, the wolves would be howling. There is a certain hypocrisy in that.
But today is not the day to take moral stands against dog fighting, or Vick, or his ex-con status.
Last Sunday was a day of enjoyment, the kind of enjoyment that only sports can bring and can only be felt in Philadelphia — once a downtrodden entity and now, thanks to Vick and DeSean Jackson, and Brent Celek, and a colossal New York Giants meltdown, king of the world.