QB Vick putting safety behind success for Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Vick broke free on another one of his daring runs, saw a few defenders and stepped out of bounds.

Once.

Vick had other chances to avoid hits and took tacklers straight on, fighting for every extra inch he could get during Philadelphia's 26-24 victory over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Nothing will change the way Vick plays now. Not an injury. Not an appeal from his coach. Not advice from his teammates. Nothing.

"I play this game the way I play it and I'm not going to change," Vick said. "I think I did a good job protecting myself at times and I think at times when I knew the hit wasn't going to be as devastating, I was able to protect myself. I'm not going to play this game scared or hesitant or conservative."

Vick's remarkable comeback story was put on hold because of his fearless attitude. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback missed three games after sustaining a rib cartilage injury on a crunching hit near the goal line against Washington on Oct. 3.

The layoff didn't affect his performance or his approach. Vick threw for 218 yards and one touchdown, and ran for 74 yards and another score against the Colts. He absorbed several hits in the pocket and several more when he scrambled 10 times.

"You have that end zone in front of you and that's all you're thinking about. That's what drives me," Vick said. "When I see that end zone, it's like the lights just turn on and I don't care what happens. I'm willing to go the extra mile to put six points on the board."

Coach Andy Reid urged Vick to be more cautious. He was encouraged that Vick heeded that advice on one occasion.

"It's going to be hard holding him back," Reid said. "I've talked to him, and he's one of the more competitive guys that I've been around. He loves to play the game. It's hard, because you don't want to take anything away from his game. You know he did run out of bounds one time. I was really fired up about that. He's making a little progress."

Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson said seeing Vick run around is "scary." Jackson missed one game with a concussion, and he doesn't have a problem shying away from hard hits. He slid after running an end-around and didn't go across the middle much.

"I don't want him to get hurt," Jackson said. "I always tell him: 'Protect yourself, don't take no hits'."

Perhaps Vick felt secure because he wore a new chest protector that was made of three layers of composite materials, including aramid, which is used by military in bulletproof vests.

"Conventional padding can no longer adequately protect players from the brute force exerted by today's professional athletes," said Rob Vito, president of Unequal Technologies. "To protect Vick and other members of the Eagles, we modified the Unequal composite we use to create our athlete footwear insoles that are worn by the Eagles and other NFL teams to conform to the chest pads."

It might not matter how much armor Vick wears because he's going to play the same way he always has.

"I'm going to go out and give 110 percent, give it everything I have and I think at the end of the day, I just want to be able to tell myself I gave it everything I had and I didn't hold anything back," Vick said. "Regardless of what happens out there, whether I run and get hurt or I don't, it's just me playing my game."

With Vick leading the way, the Eagles (5-3) are in position to make a run in a conference that lacks a dominant team. Philadelphia, which plays the Washington Redskins (4-4) next Monday, is 3-0 in the games Vick has started and finished. He nearly led the Eagles to a comeback win against the Green Bay Packers after replacing an injured Kevin Kolb in the opener. He was injured in the first quarter of the loss to the Redskins in Week 4.

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Vick has thrown for 1,017 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions, and his passer rating of 105.3 is the highest of his career. He's also run for 261 yards and two scores.

Before missing two seasons while serving 18 months in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring, Vick was a superstar in six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

He's a better all-around quarterback now. Vick has shown he can have success in the pocket and he makes perfect throws almost effortlessly with a flick of his wrist. When he's under pressure, Vick still has the speed and the unique elusiveness to make big plays with his legs.

"Michael Vick is one of the most electrifying quarterbacks to ever play the game so we have a lot of confidence in him and we believe in him," cornerback Asante Samuel said. "You can see that it's right there for us. We've just got to put it all together and play consistent football week in and week out. We definitely have a good shot."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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