The Pittsburgh Steelers' Thursday night matchup with the Baltimore Ravens isn't a do-or-die game. In the grand scheme of things, it may just be another installment of a great rivalry that may end up getting lost in time, along with the Dennis Dixon Derby of 2009 and the Charlie Batch Victory Lap of 2012.
Vick and Roethlisberger, while both elusive in their own ways, play with very different styles -- the fact that Vick tosses with the opposite hand even throws a wrinkle into Todd Haley's system. Those differences, combined with Vick's age and time spent on the couch this offseason, suggest that the Steelers won't play up to -- or at least, as close to -- their potential with Vick at the helm.
Following practice on Tuesday, Vick understood this, telling NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala, "It's not on me try to go out and win this game by myself."
Vick has always played best when he's had skill players around him. The gunslinger's best year came in 2010 with the Eagles when he was surrounded by a young trio of DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. Vick finished the year with a 100.2 passer rating and set career highs with his touchdown-to-interception ratio (21:6), completion percentage (62.6) and rushing touchdowns (9). The season included a record-breaking performance in a 59-28 Monday night win in Washington where Vick scored six total touchdowns, totaled 413 total yards and finished with a 150.7 passer rating.
However, in years where Vick has been surrounded by duds and no-names, the quarterback hasn't fared so well. Take last year with the New York Jets as a short example. Though he played five meaningful games -- only one of which was a win -- alongside Chris Ivory, Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro, Vick failed to impress with a 52.9 completion percentage and a passer raring of 68.2. Vick also averaged around 30 rushing yards per meaningful start, a far cry from his career best.
Telling from the above quote and statistics, it appears Vick has learned something very intrinsic about his play -- he plays up to the talent surrounding him.
Lucky for Vick and the Steelers, Pittsburgh boasts its most impressive offensive roster in years with league leaders in Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, speedy upstarts in Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant and a reliable veteran pass catcher in Heath Miller. All Vick needs to do, in theory, is get them the ball in space and watch them work their magic, just like he used to do.
"I think the one thing that he probably learned the last couple of years is what he just said," former Broncos great Terrell Davis on Wednesday morning's NFL HQ. "It's not on him to make plays. it's really about the guys around him. ... He's gotta be smart, he can't turn the ball over.
"Don't be the reason this team loses, he's gotta keep that in the back of his mind."
Vick doesn't need to win any games by himself anymore; he can't. What he can do is rely on the team around him to make plays, especially this week against a leaky Ravens defense. In a career filled with ups and downs, the one thing that Vick has learned time and time again is that, when the time is right, it's better -- and easier -- to be selfless than selfish.
As he leads another quarterback's team into the heart of the 2015 season, Vick has the right mindset. Play your part, trust your teammates and good things will happen.