Vick takes awful beating, reeling Eagles lose again; Brees and Saints romp to 28-13 win
NEW ORLEANS – Michael Vick spent about as much time on the Superdome turf as he did standing upright.
A season in tatters just got worse for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick took an awful beating, equaling a career high with seven sacks, and the Eagles lost their fourth straight game, falling to the Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 28-13 on Monday night.
Things got so bad that Vick's brother, Marcus, went on a Twitter rant suggesting Philadelphia should trade Michael if it's not going to protect him better.
"That's something I'm going to have to address after I leave here," Michael Vick said. "We're out there fighting as hard as we can. We're giving it everything we've got. I love each and every guy in that locker room. If I can make every play right, I would, and I know they would do the same."
The Eagles (3-5) are far from perfect, but this might be their most frustrating loss yet.
They rushed for 156 yards in the first half — and were down 21-3. Four times, they had first-and-goal, and all they got were two field goals. In fact, they were outscored in those situations, since Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson picked off a tipped pass and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown.
Rubbing salt in the wound, Philadelphia squandered a chance to get back in the game with a brilliant trick play on a kickoff return. Riley Cooper laid flat in the end zone, unseen by the Saints, then popped up to take a cross-field lateral from Brandon Boykin.
Cooper streaked down the sideline for an apparent touchdown. Only one problem — Boykin's lateral was actually a forward pass by about a yard, ruining the play with a penalty. Cooper stood with his hands on his hips, in disbelief, as the officials brought it back.
Philadelphia finished with 447 yards — the eighth straight team to put up more than 400 yards on the Saints. That was already the longest streak of 400-yard games given up by a defense since at least 1950, and maybe in the history of the NFL, putting New Orleans on pace to shatter the record for most yards allowed in a season.
But New Orleans came through where it mattered most, giving up a season low in points. Their previous best was a 31-24 victory over San Diego.
"It's very frustrating," Vick said. "These are games that we have the opportunity to win, or get back in the game. At this point, everything has to be dead on. You can't miss, and you almost have to be perfect on every drive."
Brees threw two touchdown passes, extending his NFL record streak to 51 games, and Chris Ivory scored on a 22-yard touchdown run to lead a rejuvenated Saints ground game.
New Orleans (3-5) got a much-needed win after a dismal 34-14 loss at Denver.
"There are defining moments throughout a season," Brees said. "Big plays, big wins, that kind of bring you together and let you see a vision of what you can be, what you can accomplish. Here we are the midway point. It's gone by fast.
"This," he added, "is the type of momentum we want going into the second half of the season."
The Eagles might have the same record as the Saints, but there's a totally different feeling in Philadelphia. Vick threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson in the third quarter, but that was about the only highlight for the visiting team.
Philadelphia's last gasp was a fourth-down pass that Vick threw away in the back of the end zone with 7 seconds left, apparently more concerned about avoiding another pick than tacking on a meaningless TD.
Brees kept his record touchdown streak going, hooking up with Marques Colston on a 1-yard scoring pass and Jimmy Graham from 6 yards out.
The Saints quarterback finished 21 of 27 for 239 yards, a big improvement on his 22-of-42 showing against the Broncos. Brees also got plenty of help from the running game, which came into the league ranked last in the league.
Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for 136 yards, each breaking off double-digit gains. Ivory, the Saints' leading rusher two years ago but playing for the first time this year, provided a much-needed boost to the backfield.
Meanwhile, the embattled Saints defense kept the heat on Vick, and the brutal pounding made it tough for No. 7 to establish any rhythm. He finished 22 of 41 for 272 yards and really couldn't be blamed for Robinson's interception, which went off the hands of tight end Brent Celek.
Cameron Jordan had three sacks, matching his total for the season, while Will Smith took down Vick twice — also matching his sack total through the first seven games.
Celek had a tough night. He also lost a fumble deep at the New Orleans 8 with just over 3 minutes remaining, essentially ending any hope of a Philadelphia comeback.
Eagles coach Andy Reid moved quickly to snuff out any talk about replacing Vick, which has become a weekly ritual.
"Michael Vick will be the quarterback," the Eagles coach said.
The Saints put the Eagles in a big halftime hole for the second straight game. Over the last two weeks, Philadelphia has been outscored 45-10 in the first and second quarters.
New Orleans was on the verge of blowing it open when it took the second-half kickoff and drove deep into Philadelphia territory. But the Eagles defense came up with a big turnover, as Brandon Graham stripped the ball from Brees and fell on it at the Eagles 17. Two plays later, Vick found Jackson wide open down the right side on a deep throw, and he took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.
Rookie Travaris Cadet, filling in on returns for the injured Darren Sproles, fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Philadelphia recovered again. Vick broke off a 14-yard run to the 8, but yet another sack stifled the drive. The Eagles settled for Alex Henery's second field goal from 37 yards.
Henery connected from 22 yards early in the second quarter after the Eagles squandered a chance for more. Jackson appeared caught off guard by Vick's third-down pass in the back of the end zone, doing little more than sticking out his left hand in a halfhearted attempt to make the catch.
Philadelphia moved the ball effectively in the early going and looked to strike first after Brown broke off a 40-yard run to the New Orleans 5. After losing 1 yard on a run, the Eagles went to the air looking for the touchdown.
Instead, it was the Saints who scored. Vick's pass in the flats deflected off Celek's hands — right into the arms of Robinson, the right cornerback. He took off down the sideline in front of the shell-shocked Philadelphia bench, matching Darren Sharper's franchise record for longest interception return.
NOTES: Graham, who has battled an ankle injury and had a problem with drops, led the Saints with a season-high eight catches for 72 yards. ... Jackson finished with 100 yards receiving on just three catches. ... Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy had 19 carries for 119 yards, but only 18 yards came after halftime. ... The Saints won their eighth straight game on Monday night.
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