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Vick's up-and-down play factors into Eagles' 3-5 start

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Vick's mediocre performances have outnumbered his spectacular ones.

The 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year hasn't been so dazzling this season. His inconsistent play is one of the reasons why the Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) underachieved in the first half.

Vick was 8-2 in his first 10 starts last year, and was a top candidate for NFL MVP. Tom Brady ended up being a unanimous choice for the award. Since leading the Eagles to an incredible comeback win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands last December, Vick has been up-and-down. He's 3-7 since that game, including a playoff loss to Green Bay.

"Things happen for a reason," Vick said Wednesday. "You can only control what you can control. I don't think defenses are playing me differently. Things are pretty much the same. We've got more turnovers this year than we did last year, and that's been the key."

In his first season playing full-time since 2006, Vick led the Eagles to the NFC East title last year. He set career highs in yards passing (3,018), touchdowns passing (21), touchdowns rushing (nine), completion percentage (62.6) and passer rating (100.2). He also rushed for 676 yards and nine touchdowns.

Vick's statistics are down in every category this year. He has thrown for 2,065 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His completion percentage is almost the same at 62.0, but his passer rating has dropped to 85.8. That's 13th in the NFL behind the likes of Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith and Matt Hasselbeck. While he's rushed for 456 yards, Vick has no touchdowns on the ground.

Vick's timing seems off and he simply isn't making the clutch throws he made last year. Vick isn't completing deep passes mainly because defenses are keeping safeties back to cover big-play threat DeSean Jackson. Still, he has had some chances to connect and either missed or opted for a shorter pass.

"I wouldn't say he's hesitant," coach Andy Reid said. "He wants to make sure he has a clear look at it, and normally if you're taking a vertical shot on a deep safety, then you're going to need a little time to do that, so you've got to work that intermediate game and be good with that. I've got to do a better job of putting him in position to do that, you know, give him more opportunities to do that."

Vick's reward for his outstanding performance last year was a $100 million, six-year contract that included about $40 million guaranteed. The Eagles expected him to take his game to an even higher level.

Instead, Vick has regressed.

"I just know we have opportunities to win games, and when you're in that position, you've got to take full advantage of it," he said. "Other than that, there's not much you can do. You've got to win as a unit, offense, defense, special teams, all three phases of the game, and that's how you get it done."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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