Editor's note: Ashley Fox blogged on philly.com during the Eagles' 34-7 win yesterday. You can also follow her on twitter.com/AshleyMFox.
The big upset of this past week was that Michael Vick wasn't a bigger story. Maybe that's as it should be. The furor over the former dogfighter has died down considerably, even in his old city of Atlanta, which hosted the SEC title game last night. Florida-Alabama was of much greater interest than Vick returning to play against the Falcons. That really says a lot.
There were Vick supporters in the Georgia Dome crowd, people in No. 7 Falcons jerseys. Vick was always a huge draw in Atlanta. Andy Reid made Vick a team captain for this game, the reward for being a good teammate, for working hard, for trying to get his life and his career back on track.
The Vick experiment here in Philadelphia remains a bit of a mystery. Vick isn't a big part of the offense. When he comes into a game, he might pick up a first down, but aside from one significant gain, he's little more than a decoy that seems to bog down the offense. Maybe we'll see more of him in the final weeks of the season, but so far he's been nothing special.
Against lesser opponents, you can get away with mistakes. The Falcons' last possession of the first half proved that. The Eagles had back-to-back personal-foul penalties to give Atlanta first and goal at the 7-yard line. A huge goal-line defensive stand kept the Falcons off the board and gave the Eagles momentum heading into halftime with a 13-0 lead.
But as this season winds down and the push for the playoffs heats up, those kinds of mistakes could kill the Eagles' playoff chances. Penalties have been a problem all season. Entering this week, the Eagles were the second-most-penalized team in the National Football League, with 82 penalties for 659 yards. Only Green Bay has been penalized more (87 for 730 yards). The league average is 66.9 penalties for 542.2 yards.
Sheldon Brown has had to stay patient. It's not always easy. He's played through a hamstring injury that could've sidelined him. He's toughed it out, waited for his opportunity and kept his head in the game. And in the third quarter, it paid off.
Brown read Chris Redman's eyes, jumped in front of Redman's intended receiver, caught the ball and went 83 yards into the end zone. It was Brown's fifth interception of the season, a career high, and gave the Eagles two cornerbacks with at least five picks (Asante Samuel has seven) for the first time since 1950.
Brown was outspoken during the off-season about his desire for a new contract. He's still not happy, but he plays for his teammates and himself. Today, Brown got a much-needed reward. Never underestimate the power of a defensive back getting into the end zone.
To his credit, Vick made himself the story today, and in a positive way. A week after Andy Reid said that Vick's teammates have been giving him a hard time about getting into the end zone, Vick scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass in the fourth. It was his first two touchdowns of the season.
Say what you will about what landed Vick in prison, he's been a pro's pro this season. He's accepted his role as the gimmicky Wildcat and has said the right things when he's talked to the media. And Vick's teammates genuinely like him.
Reid rewarded Vick by giving him a large package of plays and putting him in for Donovan McNabb early in the fourth quarter. A bruised hand ended Vick's day after that pass to Brent Celek. Said Reid: "I'm proud of Michael for going in and doing the things he did and maintaining his composure during an emotional time."