By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A soaring season for Michael Vick ended in defeat Sunday and left both the quarterback and the Philadelphia Eagles pondering an uncertain future.

"It was a great season but the ultimate goal is winning the Super Bowl," Vick told reporters after the Eagles lost to Green Bay 21-16 in a first-round playoff game that ended on a Packers interception in the end zone.

"It was a great season, but that's not enough."

Vick, who resumed his place as the NFL's most exciting player after winning the starting job in his second season since coming out of prison to join the Eagles, is set to become a free agent in March.

After serving 19 months behind bars for his role in a dog fighting ring, Vick showed he still had a rocket arm, dazzling speed and footwork and a new dedication to the sport.

He was embraced by Eagles fans and appreciated by coach Andy Reid, but the uncertainties over the NFL's labor situation and the presence of Kevin Kolb, whose job Vick won, create a cloud over the Philadelphia outlook.

Asked after Sunday's game whether he expected to be back, Vick said: "I hope so, but in this business, you never know."

Vick lifted the Eagles to the playoffs with a sensational, fourth-quarter display against the New York Giants in which he ran and threw for three touchdowns in the last seven and a half minutes to steer Philadelphia to victory from a 31-10 deficit.

But after a string of comeback victories this season, the left-hander was unable to write another miracle finish Sunday.

"This one hurt more than any one, any of my previous seasons that I played a full season and had an opportunity to play in the playoffs," Vick said. "I just didn't finish."


Where he starts next season is still in question.

Given a susceptibility to injury with his daring runs that expose him to hard-hitting tacklers, the Eagles may not want to offer Vick a long-term deal at top money.

The Eagles might use the franchise tag to bring Vick back for a season and pay him the average of the top five players at his position -- that is, if the designation is still available under whatever collective bargaining agreement is reached.

If they decide on a long-term association with Vick, keeping Kolb as a high-quality back-up would be appealing.

But the 26-year-old Kolb, who began the year as the starter before he was sidelined by a concussion and Vick snatched the job, told reporters he felt he had earned the chance to be a starter.

Vick, who had played with greater control than in his earlier years with the Atlanta Falcons, looked more like the old Vick in the waning seconds against Green Bay when he tried to force the ball to a receiver in the end zone rather than throw safely underneath to a back.

"I feel like I got greedy," said Vick, who limped off the field after taking another pounding. "It's a bad way to go out but, hey, I went out swinging."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)