MICHAEL VICK was pretty calm for a man who had just salvaged his reputation on national television. But then, this 19-17 victory over the New York Giants was the game Vick told us all week he was going to play - decisive, strong and turnover-free.

"I take pride in protecting the ball and I always have," Vick said in a Lincoln Financial Field corridor after the Eagles' latest great escape. "I know the reasons why I turned the ball over," with six interceptions and three fumbles the first 3 weeks. "Y'all give me enough flak about it, I'll take care of it."

Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo credited middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans with pulling the defense together during a chaotic Giants final drive that featured three pass interference penalties - two against the Eagles, that seemed to have put the Giants within field-goal range, and then one against the Giants, that ultimately took them out of kicker Lawrence Tynes' comfort zone.

Ryans said he particularly enjoyed watching Vick's performance.

"Watching him all week, I knew he was going to have a good game," Ryans said afterward. "The way he prepared all week, his demeanor, his attitude. He was not going to be denied."

This was the kind of NFC East slugfest Brian Dawkins would have loved to have played in, two good teams trading punches after a prolonged feeling-out period. Maybe a little of Dawk's spirit remained on the field after he did his trademark growling, crawling entrance through the smoke and the inflatable Eagles head at the start of the evening.

The Eagles held on to win when Tynes missed twice from 54 yards with 10 seconds remaining, the first try negated by an Eagles timeout, the second falling short of the crossbar.

Afterward, Eagles coach Andy Reid was asked if he regretted calling the timeout.

"Yeah, when you're surrounded by 66,000 people who probably want to rip your throat out, yeah...I kind of felt how Custer felt," Reid said.

Vick completed 19 of 30 passes for 241 yards, a touchdown and a 99.4 passer rating. Vick also ran six times for 49 yards, as the Birds became the first NFL team to gain the first three wins of a season by two points or fewer.

The Eagles settled for field goals at the end of three long second-half drives, and were left with a two-point lead with a minute and 49 seconds left, after Alex Henery's 26-yard field goal ended a 75-yard, 12-play drive.

It didn't matter. The Eagles are 3-1 going to Pittsburgh next week, having gained their eighth win in the last nine encounters with the Giants.

There were two huge reasons for the crowd to be happy at halftime. Dawkins' No. 20 was being retired, and the Eagles had managed to avoid a turnover, for the first time this season.

They also were winning, 7-3, but the absence of a turnover, which amazingly lasted all four quarters, might have been a bigger deal, in the larger scheme of things.

Most of the first half was a slog for both offenses. Both defensive lines were getting pressure. Neither Vick nor Eli Manning could get any rhythm. For Vick, the biggest issue was familiar - pressure up the middle, with sub center Dallas Reynolds struggling, but both of Vick's tackles, Todd Herremans and Demetress Bell, had a tough time as well.

At the end of the first quarter, each team had three first downs and no points, which the rest of the nation probably found less than scintillating. Manning was 4-for-11 for 35 yards, Vick 5-for-9 for 72. The Eagles actually tried to run the ball, with often ugly results. LeSean McCoy, with 2 yards on his six first-half attempts, was reminded once again that he didn't have Jason Peters or Jason Kelce in front of him. (Though McCoy got untracked spectacularly in the second half, finishing with 123 yards on 23 carries. He has gained more than 100 yards rushing in four of the last five Eagles-Giants games.)

The Eagles suddenly started blocking on their final possession of the first half. Vick missed his first two throws, but he found rookie Damaris Johnson in the teeth of a blitz for 17 yards, and suddenly, Vick looked comfortable. He hit three passes in a row, mixed in a rollout run for a first down at the Giants' 20. On third-and-9 from the 19, Vick got great protection and threw a lovely ball to DeSean Jackson in the left corner of the end zone, Jackson's first touchdown of the season. The Birds had a 7-0 lead with 1:47 left in the half.

"There were things we actually got better at during the game," Reid said. "I thought the offensive line progressively found themselves as the game went on, in both the running and the pass game."

Of course, the Giants then found their own rhythm. Manning got 32 yards right away on a pass to Domenik Hixon, the first strike of a string of seven completions in eight attempts. But Brandon Hughes, playing for Nnamdi Asomugha, who suffered an eye injury, helped break up an end zone pass for Hixon, and the Giants had to settle for a 25-yard Tynes field goal and a 7-3 halftime deficit. (Asomugha later returned.)

At halftime, Vick was 11-for-19 for 132 yards, a touchdown, NO TURNOVERS and a 96.8 passer rating. Manning was 14-for-26 for 151 and a 71.2 passer rating.

Both offenses remained revived when the third quarter began, following an onfield ceremony retiring Dawkins' No. 20 (there was a longer pregame ceremony). Two moments there deserve notice. While Merrill Reese was orating, the painting of Dawk on an easel next to Reese toppled over. Reese didn't even blink. And then Dawkins, taking the field at the Linc one last time, led the crowd in "Fly, Eagles Fly."

The Eagles drove from their 20 to the Giants' 1 on the first drive of the third quarter, but couldn't punch it in three times with McCoy, and settled for a 20-yard Henery field goal.

The Giants were just as brisk, after running back Henery's kickoff 45 yards. Manning found Victor Cruz, the pass just eluding DeMeco Ryans' fingertips, for a touchdown on the eighth play of their drive, which only had to cover 57 yards.

The Eagles, favored with much worse field position, then drove 50 yards in eight plays, but needed all of that to leave Henery with a 48-yard field goal for a 13-10 lead.

The Giants seemed poised to take their first lead after running the ensuing Henery kickoff back 53 yards, starting a drive in Eagles' territory, at the 49. Suddenly the absences of special-teams aces Colt Anderson (knee) and Akeem Jordan (hamstring) were looming large.

But on first down from the Eagles' 10, Manning's throw was picked off in the end zone by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and the Eagles then drove for another Henery field goal, and a 16-10 fourth-quarter lead.

That first Giants lead came on the next possession, keyed by a 41-yard completion from Manning to Hixon, to the Eagles' 8. It was Hixon's sixth catch, for 114 yards. Two plays later, Manning found tight end Bear Pascoe over the middle, all alone for the TD and a 17-16 lead, with the extra point.

The drive needed only five plays to cover 83 yards. Without getting pressure on Manning, the Eagles seemed helpless.

But Vick and McCoy drove them down for what proved to be the winning field goal, and then Castillo's defense found traction.

Henery, who had the best game of his career despite switching holders from Chas Henry to Mat McBriar, said he was thinking as Tynes prepared to kick, toward the I-95 end of the stadium, "that was the tougher way to kick tonight, into the wind."

Eagles slot corner Brandon Boykin said: "We stepped up to the challenge. It was either win or lose there" on the final drive.