If somehow this is the Eagles' season that finally has a happy ending, one of the main story lines afterward will be the tale of the two quarterbacks.

The main story, of course, would be how Donovan McNabb removed the 500-pound gorilla from his back by winning a Super Bowl. If that doesn't seem plausible, you haven't been paying attention to the Eagles' offense recently.

The secondary story would be about Michael Vick and how he has evolved from a sideline wallflower to a valuable part of the Eagles' offense in the latter part of the season.

McNabb, without question, is playing his best football since the 2004 season, when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg believes McNabb is playing at an even higher level now, although his statistics probably won't be as impressive at the end of the year.

"He missed two games," Mornhinweg said. "And we've also had an unusual amount of games where we've had very few plays."

Barring disaster in the final three weeks, the Eagles are going to set a franchise record for points for the second straight season. They need 45 in the final three games to break last year's mark of 416.

McNabb is "a much different quarterback" than in 2004, Mornhinweg said. "He's a much different player. When he first came into the league, he was a great player. Now, I think he's just a great quarterback as well as being a great player."

McNabb's numbers after 11 starts this season are similar to those in his first 11 starts in 2004.

So far this season, he has completed 206 of 336 passes for 2,702 yards and 18 touchdowns, while throwing seven interceptions. He has had five games with a passer rating above 100, and his overall passer rating is 95.9.

After the same amount of starts in 2004, McNabb had completed 224 of 350 passes for 2,892 yards, with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had seven games with a passer rating over 100 and an overall passer rating of 105.8.

The Eagles have averaged 28.8 points in McNabb's 11 starts this season, compared with 26.7 in his first 11 starts in 2004.

Mornhinweg believes McNabb's best work this season came against the New York Giants on Sunday night.

"I called a bunch of shots [down the field] and, man, he was reading them just beautifully," Mornhinweg said. "He was taking them when they were there and he was going right to No. 2 or even 3, 4 or 5 with quick decisions. He was checking it down when he needed to. . . . His timing and accuracy and decision-making has been just key."

McNabb's numbers might be even better if he didn't have to give way to Vick sometimes, especially around the goal line. But his willingness to turn the offense over to Vick in those situations seems to be paying off as the Eagles hit the homestretch.

Against the Giants, Vick followed up his special homecoming in Atlanta by playing his most vital role in a victory so far this season. Vick's 1-yard touchdown sprint into the left corner of the end zone allowed the Eagles to take a 13-point lead into halftime. And his 32-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the opening drive helped set up the game's first score.

Through his first nine games in an Eagles uniform, Vick had run the ball 15 times and thrown it nine. Those 24 plays averaged 2.9 yards.

In the last two games, he has run the ball seven times and passed it four. Those 11 plays have averaged 9.8 yards and resulted in three touchdowns.

"The first half of the season was sort of like minicamps and training camp for him," Mornhinweg said. "He hadn't played in two years, and we wanted to put him in a position where he had a chance to have success."

After Sunday's game, Vick was even more excited about contributing to a closely contested victory than he was about his homecoming in Atlanta.

"I put the offense in a position to score a touchdown early, and that's what I've been wanting to do," he said. "Timing is everything and patience is a virtue. It will all come together at the right time."

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.