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Eagles might run more to protect Vick, or not

A closer look at Sunday's first-round game between Green Bay and Philadelphia.

January 08, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Philadelphia's Michael Vick ignited the Eagles' offense this season, but he is recovering from a bruised quadriceps.
Philadelphia's Michael Vick ignited the Eagles' offense this… (Howard Smith / US Presswire )

Did LeSean McCoy tip Philadelphia's hand this week when he said the pass-happy Eagles plan to run the ball more against Green Bay on Sunday? Or was he just trying to give the Packers one more thing to think about?

Either way, McCoy said Green Bay's 3-4 defense invites opponents to keep the ball on the ground. The Packers finished 18th against the run during the regular season, giving up an average of 114.9 yards per game.

McCoy suggested the plan was to expose Michael Vick to fewer hits, seeing as the quarterback is recovering from a bruised quadriceps.

As it is, the Eagles have the fifth-ranked rush offense, having averaged 145.2 yards per game. McCoy finished 14th in rushing with 1,080 yards.

"We're going to run it a bit and kind of get him out of that pocket a little bit more," McCoy said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think that, with play fakes, will help him out."

Then again, it could be McCoy running a pregame fake. We'll just have to see.

Air Aaron

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-high 404 yards against the New York Giants two weeks ago. He would make NFL history if he were to throw for 400 yards against the Eagles.

Rodgers passed for 423 in his first playoff start, at Arizona last season, and no player has thrown for 400 in consecutive postseason games. Only Peyton Manning and Dan Marino have thrown for 400 in two playoff games, but they weren't back-to-back performances.

Rich histories

Green Bay and Pittsburgh are participating in the playoffs for the 26th time, tied for the fourth-most postseason appearances in NFL history. The teams with the most seasons participating in the playoffs (including this season; *in playoffs):

Dallas Cowboys, 30
New York Giants, 30
St. Louis Rams, 27
Green Bay Packers*, 26
Minnesota Vikings, 26
Pittsburgh Steelers*, 26

Cornering market

Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel has seven interceptions in his postseason career for an NFL-record 227 yards, with four returns for touchdowns, also a postseason record. His seven picks are tied for fifth most in playoff history. The players with the most postseason interceptions (*in playoffs):

Charlie Waters,? 9
Bill Simpson,? 9
Ronnie Lott?, 9
Lester Hayes,? 8
Asante Samuel*,? 7
Ed Reed*, ?7
Three others tied,? 7

From A to Zombo

Green Bay linebacker Frank Zombo had four sacks this season, the most among the rookies in this playoff field. One rookie in NFL history has surpassed that in the postseason alone. The rookies with the most sacks in the playoffs:

Greg Townsend, L.A. Raiders, 4.5, 1983
Garin Veris, New England, 4, 1985
Eric Dorsey, NY Giants, 3, 1986
Jevon Kearse, Tennessee, 3, 1999
Cornelius Griffin, NY Giants, 3, 2000

Another view

NFL Network's Jim Mora, who was Vick's coach in Atlanta: "The Packers are a very battle-tested team with everything they've been through this year, and (Packers defensive coordinator) Dom Capers will probably come up with an outstanding scheme to try to stop Mike. That probably won't be enough because not only has Mike become a very effective passer but he's still a great run threat."

By the numbers How the teams compare statistically. All statistics are per-game averages, except for turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):

Points scored 24.2 (10)-27.4 (3)
Points allowed 15.0 (2)-24.6 (21)
Pass offense 257.8 (5)-244.1 (9)
Rush offense 100.4 (24)-145.2 (5)
Pass defense 194.2 (5)-216.8 (15)
Rush defense 114.9 (18)-110.4 (15)
Sacks 2.94 (2)-2.44 (10)
Penalties 38.6 (30)-68.8 (2)
Turnovers +10 (4), +9 (8)

Farmer's pick The Packers were a lot healthier when they won their opener in Philadelphia, and Vick -- who played only in the second half against Green Bay -- nearly closed the gap.


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