The Eagles held on for dear life and secured a 26-24 win over the Colts and Peyton Manning, containing the superstar quarterback. They may not have stopped him, but the Eagles definitely slowed Manning, who completed 31-of-52 passes for 294 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
For just the second time in his career, Manning threw more than 50 passes without going over 300 yards. The other was on November 1, 2008, a staggering 4,681 days ago, in a 21-16 loss to New England in just the eighth game of Manning’s rookie season.
The Eagles had never beaten Manning, losing in 1999, 2002 and 2006. It took a special effort from the coaches and players to get it done.
“I think you have to change things up well when you play Peyton,” head coach Andy Reid said. “You’re literally talking about a guy that is going to go down as maybe the best quarterback ever to play the game, so you’ve got to be like a catcher and dial up the right pitches. I think [defensive coordinator] Sean [McDermott] did that and then the guys executed.”
For McDermott, the win was extra special after spending a decade under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who died from melanoma in 2009. Johnson was fired as the Colts defensive coordinator the year before Manning arrived and never found a way to beat his former team.
“This is sweet,” McDermott said. “We’ve battled for a lot of years, obviously isolated games, and I know Jim always wanted to get him and he’s a great player.”
The Eagles used a wide variety of packages and coverages throughout the game, sometimes dropping eight players back and rushing three lineman, others blitzing linebackers and dropping defensive ends into coverage.
“We threw the kitchen sink at him and we just tried to give him different looks and our players, like I said, my hat goes off to them because they had to execute all of those different looks,” said McDermott. “It was a little bit unorthodox at times but there’s not a lot of people that beat this guy and you’ve got to do some things out of the ordinary.”
The kitchen sink got Manning, bringing him down for 3 sacks and pressuring him into 2 interceptions, both season highs. To put those numbers in perspective, Manning averages just 1.13 sacks and .93 interceptions per game.
The 10-time Pro Bowler gave credit to the Eagles secondary. “They have good players, they have good cover guys as well and everything was kind of contested,” Manning said. “We just had a tough time trying to find any kind of rhythm in the second half and you have to give Philadelphia a lot of credit.”
McDermott, beaming from ear to ear, admitted that he might be more proud of this game plan and his players execution of it than any other since taking over as defensive coordinator.
“To some extent, yes, but at the same time I don’t want to get too high,” McDermott said. “This was not the Super Bowl, this was a win and we’re going to continue to build for the future and play physical football.”
Eagles right guard Max Jean-Gilles left the game with a concussion, while free safety Nate Allen suffered a neck strain and will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
Andy Reid improved to 12-0 after the bye week, 15-0 including playoff games in which the opponent was not coming off of a bye as well.
Michael Vick’s passer rating has been over 90 in all five of his games this season.
Vick has attempted 154 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, the longest streak of his career.
Vick now has 4,215 rushing yards in his career, just 24 behind Steve Young for second all-time in the NFL among quarterbacks. Randall Cunningham holds the record with 4,928.