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Vick has history of struggling against Eagles
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    PHILADELPHIA — For a one-of-kind quarterback, Michael Vick sure has looked ordinary against the Philadelphia Eagles.
    Going into Atlanta’s potentially do-or-die game at Philadelphia on Sunday, Vick is 1-2 in three career starts against the Eagles. Both losses came on the road in the playoffs, including the 2004 NFC championship game.
    Vick has tormented defenses for years with his dazzling speed and powerful left arm. But he’s struggled to conquer Philly.
    In his three starts versus the Eagles, Vick has no touchdown passes and four interceptions while completing just 52.9 percent (45-of-85) of his passes for 566 yards. He's rushed for 124 yards on 21 carries for one TD and been sacked 11 times. The Falcons have managed a total of 30 points in those games, including a 14-10 win in last year's season opener at the Georgia Dome.
    “We’ve had a little bit of success. I can't say we’ve had complete success because last year he got one on us,” defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. “We’ve had some plans that we've kind of gone in with. And every year we kind of switch the plans a little bit.
    “But, he’s a guy that you contain, you contain, you contain and then all of a sudden he gets a big play on you. So, you’re never able to sleep on that guy. Hopefully, you’ve got people in the right place and all of a sudden they are very conscious of what an excellent athlete he is.”
    This has been a record-setting year for Vick, who broke Bobby Douglass' 34-year-old mark for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season. Vick surpassed Douglass’ total of 968 yards two weeks ago at Dallas and went over 1,000 yards last week against Carolina.
    Vick also has thrown a career-best 19 TD passes, but he has 13 picks and his completion percentage (52.4) is worst in the NFL. No wonder the Falcons have been inconsistent offensively.
    They’re ranked first in the league in yards rushing and last in passing.
    Still, the Eagles are wary of No. 7.
    “He is still as dangerous as ever,” linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. “Your whole game plan still surrounds him. He’s the guy that makes that offense go.”
    Johnson, known for devising complex schemes that often confuse opposing QBs, altered his approach against the Falcons in the conference title game two years ago. The Eagles didn't blitz much, instead concentrated on taking away Vick's running lanes with a contained rush. They also mixed up their coverages, using everything from a spy to putting cornerback Sheldon Brown at safety and free safety Brian Dawkins at linebacker.
    Vick was held to only 26 yards rushing and was sacked four times in that game.
    Johnson used quite a few more blitzes last year.     
    That plan led to Vick’s only win in the series. The elusive QB escaped a strong rush, scrambled outside the pocket and completed an 18-yard pass to Alge Crumpler that set up Atlanta’s first score. He got 29 of his 68 yards rushing on a run in the fourth quarter after the Eagles closed within 14-10. It should be noted the defense was missing one of its key players because Trotter was ejected from the game for fighting in warmups.
    “We are still going to (blitz),” Johnson said. “It’s just being conscious of who we have back there as far as the containment. But, I don’t think you can be passive against them, either. The last two times we played them, we still have had our pressure packages in. So far, it’s been pretty good.”
    Defensive ends Trent Cole, Darren Howard and Juqua Thomas must be disciplined in their rushes against Vick to avoid letting him break out for long gains. They can’t overpursue and have to stay in their proper lanes and the linebackers need to stick with their coverages until Vick crosses the line of scrimmage.
    “Everybody has to stay in their gap and not let him run downfield,” said Cole, who has a team-high eight sacks.
     The Eagles (9-6) would clinch their fifth division title in six years with a victory or if Dallas loses to lowly Detroit. The Falcons (7-8) can only get in the playoffs if they win and the New York Giants (at Washington), Carolina (at New Orleans) and Green Bay (at Chicago) all lose.