EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mike Vick didn’t care that a loss was inevitable.
At halftime, with the Philadelphia Eagles trailing the New York Giants 24-3, Vick just wanted his teammates to play the final 30 minutes like they were the last 30 minutes they’d ever play again in their careers.
“I just said 'Listen, we’re gonna play with pride,'” Vick said. “They may beat us 49-25, but we’re gonna go out and play with some pride. That’s all I wanted.”
Pride was all the Vick asked for. But by the end of the game, Vick and his teammates were playing for a lot more than pride.
They were playing for a win. And win they did.
After being held to just 33 yards passing and an interception in the first half, Vick threw for 209 yards and three TDs in the second half -- leading the Eagles, who trailed by 21 points with 8:17 remaining -- to a stunning 38-31 come-from-behind victory over the Giants Sunday afternoon at New Meadowlands Stadium.
“We got down whatever we got down,” said Vick, who added 10 carries for 130 yards and a score. “I just knew we needed three touchdowns. Down 21 you wanna go out and make the most of every opportunity. Every possession. Every down counts.”
With his team behind 31-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Vick made every possession -- and every down -- count.
It started with what seemed like a harmless 65-yard pitch and catch touchdown over the middle to tight end Brent Celek that made it 31-17 with 7:43 left. Then, after an onside kick was recovered by Riley Cooper, Vick orchestrated a 5-play, 57-yard drive that he capped with a 4-yard TD run to get the Eagles within 31-24 at the 5:32 mark. And he finished off his marvelous afternoon by leading his team downfield again -- this time 88 yards on 8 plays -- ending with a 13-yard TD hookup with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to knot the game at 31 apiece with just 1:24 to go and shock the 81,223 in attendance.
That’s when Vick left it up to DeSean Jackson to do the rest.
“When [Matt Dodge] kicked it and it had low trajectory, I wondered why he would kick it to DeSean there,” Vick said of Jackson, who finished off the miracle comeback with a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown as time expired. “I know what he can do. And it was a great opportunity for him. He hung in there.”
So did Vick.
Despite being frustrated by the Giants early and often due to their all-out blitzing style that forced him into an early pick, Vick never lost his cool.
He never surrendered. He never quit.
Neither did his teammates. That’s why the Eagles (10-4) are on top of the NFC East, while the Giants (9-5) are left to wonder what could’ve been had they not underwent an epic collapse.
“I was surprised, but I had to stay poised,” Vick said of his poor start. “I got a little flustered. I thought I was trying to be conservative. There cover zero blitz was getting to me.
“But we just adjusted to it. Regardless of what they do, it’s not about them, it’s about us. We just need to take it one play at a time. I believe in myself and my teammates.”
When it was all said and done, the Giants defense had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Vick. Still, they had no answer in the second half. Dynamic and elusive as ever, Vick began carving them up as only he can.
“You know what, it didn’t start off well with the interception,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. “He hung in there, and that was the thing, he kept battling and they were giving us some different looks, I mean...but he hung in there and he kept battling, got hit a few times and then he came back with those long runs. Special.”
The Giants were the only team to hold Vick without a touchdown coming in. But he got four in this one. And the Eagles needed every one of them.
“I just have to give all the praise to my lord and savior Jesus Christ for blessing us and giving us a chance to win this game,” said Vick, who has thrown 20 touchdowns and five interceptions in 11 games.
With 8:17 remaining, Vick and the Eagles needed a prayer if they were going to win this game.
They not only got a prayer, they got a win too.
And what made it all the sweeter was what Vick felt was a lack of respect by the Giants.
"I thought for them to walk off the field in the end, they didn’t show great sportsmanship -- they've been talking all week," Vick said. "But we still have the utmost respect for them."