Michael Vick's last playoff appearance came as a member of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2004 NFC Championship Game, a game that Eagles fans remember well. That night, the Eagles would win the NFC title for the first time since 1980. And, as fate would have it, Vick will step out on to that same field Sunday afternoon against the Packers – 2,176 days later – looking to lead the Eagles back to the Super Bowl.
There were many moments over the past three years when Vick thought that blustery, cold night in Philadelphia could have been his last shot at winning a championship. That dream, of course, has been reborn in the last four months, and Vick can't wait to buckle his chin strap and start a playoff game for the Eagles.
"This is what you dream about; this is what you play the game for," Vick said Monday. "It's no time to be nervous or to have any anxiety about the situation. You're more so excited and eager to get it on than anything."
With the Eagles locked into the third seed prior to Sunday's game against the Cowboys, Vick used the week to heal his injured quad and get some much needed rest before the playoff run. While he's not quite 100 percent, he's a lot closer to full speed than he would have been had the team needed him to play Sunday afternoon.
"I feel a lot better just having the opportunity to rehab and focus on getting my leg better," Vick said. "Taking it one day at a time has been great for me. The time off has been great and I took full advantage of it."
It's hard to maintain the highest level of play week in and week out. Vick has posted career-best numbers in passing yards (3,018), passing touchdowns (21), quarterback rating (100.2) and interceptions (6), but has had to fight a bit harder to move the football in recent weeks. In his last start against the Vikings, Vick completed 58 percent of his passes for 263 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 63 yards on the ground as well as a score, but lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
That's the nature of the NFL.
Teams will study what you do well and where you struggle. Defenses will adjust and perhaps what worked in Week 9 won't be quite as effective in the Week 16. But now with the playoffs upon them, Vick doesn't see this as a time to completely rework the offensive philosophy. With the playmakers in place, it's all a matter of execution.
"I don't think we have to make changes," Vick said. "If you look at it, these teams are very good teams that we're playing week in and week out. These are not bad football teams. You're not going to win every battle, but as long as you find a way to win (the game) at some point, that's all that matters."
Vick has waited a long time for another shot at the Super Bowl. And after coming so close in 2004, and after the journey that took him from Atlanta to Kansas to Philadelphia, he's determined to make the most of this opportunity.
"It's the postseason," Vick said. "You win or go home, and that should motivate everybody. So do your job, or if you don't, you won't be playing next week. There's really nothing more to say.
"This is the season, the season starts now."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 3:00 p.m., January 3