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Getting defensive

Philly flusters Falcons; Vick, running game held in check

Posted: Sunday January 12, 2003 12:17 AM
Updated: Sunday January 12, 2003 1:31 AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Confused, harassed and pressured all night, Michael Vick was lost in a sea of green.

The Philadelphia Eagles sacked the NFL's best scrambler three times, forced him into an interception that Bobby Taylor returned 39 yards for a touchdown and also made him fumble in Saturday night's 20-6 NFC playoff victory.

"We just followed our game plan," Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas said. "We knew who was running around back there, but we stuck to the plan."

Vick, who led NFL quarterbacks with 777 yards rushing, ran for only 30 yards and couldn't make the big play the Falcons are so used to getting.

"I never could get the right feel," Vick said. "I couldn't get my footing down and I didn't seem to be able to cut well."

Atlanta finished with 354 total yards, but didn't score after Jay Feely kicked a 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

"You're talking about some explosive players they have on that offense and they kept them intact," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "It was a great effort."

While quarterback Donovan McNabb eased his way into the offense after missing two months with a broken ankle, the defense made an immediate impact, giving the Eagles an early lead they never relinquished.

On Atlanta's second possession, Vick, under pressure from Darwin Walker, made an off-balance pass intended for Shawn Jefferson that was intercepted by Taylor, who made one cutback move and ran it in for his second TD of the season.

Vick appeared to have a receiver open coming across the middle of the field, but rushed his pass to Jefferson because of the pressure.

"We just had to play good, aggressive football," Simon said. "It wasn't a situation where we just bull-rushed him every down. You can't do that against a player like that."

The Eagles didn't blitz Vick as often as they do most quarterbacks, but were able to generate a decent pass rush. Walker, Corey Simon and Brandon Whiting each sacked him for a total loss of 27 yards.

In the final six regular-season games, the Eagles allowed eight touchdowns, but five came after the outcome of games were decided. They've allowed just one TD in their last three games in reaching the NFC championship game for the second consecutive year.

"Our defense has played well all year," Walker said. "It was great to have Donovan back, but as a defense, we knew we had to carry the load."

 
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