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September 1, 2014, 5:29 pm

Eagles stay alive in NFC East race

  • Written by ROB MAADDI
  • Published in Football

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles aren't giving up their NFC East title without a fight.

A 17-10 victory led by backup quarterback Vince Young over the New York Giants on Sunday night temporarily saved Philadelphia's season and kept the defending division champions in the playoff mix.

The Eagles (4-6) have a long way to go because they still trail New York and Dallas by two games. A wild-card berth is highly unlikely because Detroit and Chicago are both 7-3, so Philadelphia's best shot at reaching the playoffs would be to win the division. Having the best record (3-1) in the East is an advantage if the Eagles can catch the Giants and Cowboys.

But that's looking too far ahead. The Eagles don't have that luxury because they need to win every game the rest of the way. It won't be easy this week against Tom Brady and the AFC East-leading New England Patriots.

"You have to take one game at a time," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday. "There's not enough time or energy to worry about all that stuff. You kind of control what you can control and that's getting ready to play the New England Patriots, who are a good football team. If you get into the other stuff, you drive yourself crazy."

The Patriots were 6-3 going into Monday night's game against Kansas City. It'll be a short week for them heading into Philadelphia, and that could work to the Eagles' advantage.

None of that would've mattered if the Eagles lost to New York. But they found a way to win without Michael Vick and leading receiver Jeremy Maclin. It's uncertain if either player will return this week.

Vick broke two ribs in a loss to Arizona last week. Reid said he's feeling better. Maclin sustained shoulder and hamstring injuries against the Cardinals. He ran on Monday morning and Reid said he's getting better.

Considering Young's performance against the Giants, some wondered if the Eagles might have a quarterback controversy brewing. Reid squashed that notion, saying Vick will start when he's healthy.

Young shook off three interceptions in his first start in nearly a year and led the Eagles on a long go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. He finished 23 of 36 for 258 yards and two touchdowns.

Vick, a Pro Bowl starter last year, has been inconsistent this season. But the Eagles gave him a $100 million, six-year contract that includes $40 million guaranteed.

Young improved to 31-17 as a starter. His track record, coupled with his effort against New York, allows the Eagles not to rush back Vick.

"I don't have a long history with Vince. I felt confident he would be successful, knock some of the rust off, get caught up with the game speed and be OK," Reid said. "I also have confidence in (third-string QB) Mike Kafka. That allows us (not to rush back Vick), though we normally would anyway. I'm not going to put a guy out there if he can't play."

Before helping the Eagles beat the Giants, Young's only contribution to his new team was a negative one. He labeled the Eagles a "Dream Team" after signing a one-year contract in the summer. Obviously, they haven't lived up to the hype.

"People blew it out of proportion," Young said. "It was just how I felt about the team, about the individual guys coming in, one of those teams if we continue to keep working. So guys just blew it out of proportion. That's in the past."

The Eagles have a favorable schedule after New England. They have only one game left against a team that currently has a winning record, versus Dallas on Dec. 24. The Eagles dominated the Cowboys in a 34-7 win in Philadelphia on Oct. 30.

The Giants have a much tougher schedule. They'll play at New Orleans (7-3) then host Green Bay (10-0) in the next two weeks and face Dallas twice in the final month.

The Cowboys play Miami (3-7), Arizona (3-7) and Tampa (4-6), but still have the games against New York and Philadelphia.

"We can control our own destiny if we win out and we might need a little help, but if we just win out and take care of our business, we'll be fine," running back LeSean McCoy said. "It won't be easy."

Notes: WR DeSean Jackson left the stadium in a walking boot Sunday night, but Reid said he only has a bruised foot. ... CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's high ankle sprain likely will keep him out for a second straight game. -- (AP)