For years, Philadelphia sputtered offensively in the red zone, often settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. Eagles fans blamed the play calling, the quarterback, the offensive line, the coach. There was one missed opportunity after another.
Michael Vick, with his lateral quickness and ability to change direction swiftly, turned around the Eagles' woeful red zone production last season. He was never better inside the 20 than against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 15, 2010.
Philadelphia entered its Week 10 matchup with the Redskins ranked 15th in the league in red zone offense, having scored touchdowns on 13 of 25 possessions. Against the Redskins, the Eagles scored touchdowns on all four of their red zone possessions, including twice when Vick ran the ball in.
On Vick's second rushing touchdown, Philadelphia spread the field with three receivers and a tight end. Vick dropped back to the Washington 12-yard line, then quickly tucked the ball and ran untouched into the end zone to give the Eagles a 42-14 second-quarter lead.
"He puts so much pressure back on the defense, particularly against the blitz," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "If you're going to blitz him, you have to make sure you wrap him up. Then the linemen have got to stay in their lanes when they're rushing. If you start giving him open lanes, and he doesn't like what he sees down the field, and he takes off, he can get that second level, that linebacker level, and he can be past that in a heartbeat and into the third level. Then that's an issue. That's a touchdown there.
"In the red zone there, that's an important quality to have."
In the locker room at halftime, Reid told his team to approach the second half as if the score were 0-0, not 45-14.
"He was excited," Eagles guard Todd Herremans said, "but he didn't want us to see how excited he was. He just wanted to keep pouring it on."
Reid has coached 211 games since arriving in Philadelphia in 1999. He knows Vick's performance was special.
"Those games happen, but they don't happen all the time and that's what makes them great," Reid said. "They're big games. He was on fire that game. Everything was lined up right. He was seeing it and feeling it. When a great player gets into that zone, that's a pretty thing to watch."
-- Ashley Fox, ESPN.com
Michael Vick, Jason Peters, Nick Cole, Todd Herremans, Andy Reid
DeAngelo Hall, Andre Carter, Lorenzo Alexander, Rocky McIntosh
Vick, shown scoring a second-quarter TD,
said it was a "perfect game," the best of his career.
Photo: AP Photo/Nick Wass