JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Michael Vick sparked a rally against Green Bay, dismantled Detroit and picked apart Jacksonville.
What does he have left to prove?
Maybe nothing — until some guy named Donovan McNabb returns to Philadelphia next week. For now, though, Vick made Andy Reid’s quarterback decision look like the right one.
Vick threw three touchdown passes, ran for another score and led the Eagles to a 28-3 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday.
“He played his heart out today, so it’s more about him than me or anybody else,” Reid said. “It’s a tribute to what he’s done and how he’s handled things.”
Vick completed 17 of 31 passes for 291 yards, mostly staying in the pocket and dissecting Jacksonville’s beleaguered secondary. One of the few times he did run, he broke a tackle, juked another defender and scored from 17 yards.
Vick found DeSean Jackson for a 61-yard touchdown and hooked up with Jeremy Maclin for two scores. Jackson finished with five catches for 153 yards, Maclin had four receptions for 83 yards, and the Eagles (2-1) improved to 2-0 with Vick as their starter.
“I moved on Thursday with all the hoopla that was going on,” Vick said. “I understand the circumstances and the reason for all the talk. … It is a sigh of relief to move on and not talk about it anymore.”
Vick became the latest in a growing list of quarterbacks to torch the Jaguars (1-2). Denver’s Kyle Orton and San Diego’s Philip Rivers burned them repeatedly for big gains the last two weeks.
Jacksonville fans headed to the exits early in the fourth quarter, with their team trailing by 25 points and having seen enough of David Garrard.
Garrard, benched last week after throwing four interceptions against the Chargers, was even worse against Philadelphia. Yes, worse. Although Garrard threw just one interception, he tossed up at least four more balls that could have been picked.
“He was ineffective today,” coach Jack Del Rio said. Garrard finished 13 of 30 for 105 yards and was sacked six times. Trent Cole and his defensive teammates abused Jaguars offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton early and often, getting the kind of steady pressure that gives Garrard trouble.
“We could never get a rhythm going, we could never get anything going really in the pass game,” Garrard said.
Garrard finished with a passer rating of 38.9, even lower than last week’s 62.7 mark.
“We have to figure out something ASAP,” said Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 88 yards. “We’re not doing anything right.”
Vick offered plenty of answers to anyone who criticized Reid’s decision to go with him over Kevin Kolb.
Reid had insisted Kolb would start when he returned from a concussion. But Vick’s play prompted Reid to reverse field and stick with Vick, saying the shifty left-hander gives Philadelphia a better chance to win.
He sure did against Jacksonville.
“I always believed I could come back and play quarterback,” said Vick, who missed two years while serving time for his role in a dogfighting operation. “It was all about me getting an opportunity and I got it and it’s time to make the most of it.”
The Eagles scored early and late in the first half, with Vick converting third-and-long plays on both drives. He stayed in the pocket on third-and-16 and dropped a perfect pass over cornerback Michael Coe’s outstretched arms and into Jackson’s hands.
Jackson turned up the sideline and went untouched for 61 yards.
Vick was nearly as precise in the two-minute drill just before halftime. He found Brent Celek down the middle for a 22-yard gain despite facing a coverage scheme that included seven defensive backs. He hooked up with Maclin for 14 yards, then again on a 16-yard score with 4 seconds remaining.
His best pass may have come in the third quarter, when he zipped one down the sideline to Maclin for a 45-yard score that made it 21-3.
Vick now gets to spend a week talking about McNabb, Philadelphia’s longtime starter whose offseason departure helped pave the way for Vick’s return. But he wasn’t ready to discuss it Sunday.
“I’m not getting involved in that,” he said. “I’m not getting involved in Donovan McNabb-Mike Vick controversy.”
NOTES: Vick’s passing yardage is the fourth-highest total of his career. … Cole had two sacks for his 13th-career multi-sack game. … The Jaguars benched struggling CB Derek Cox for the second straight week. His replacement, David Jones, got beat for two big pass plays. … Garrard’s 105 yards passing are his fewest since getting knocked out of a game early against Indianapolis in 2007. … This is the first time since 2007 that Jones-Drew hasn’t scored in the first three games.
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