Vick returns, Birds hang on

The Eagles dispatched the Super Bowl runner-up Colts 26-24 yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field. Statement win? Maybe. Big win? Definitely.

However, the biggest question on everybody’s mind is how to deal with the new rules regarding illegal hits. In the second quarter, Quintin Mikell and Kurt Coleman collided into Austin Collie. At first, the Eagles defenders thought they had made a great third-down stop. Then, the refs called Coleman for unnecessary roughness, handing the Colts 15 yards and a first down. Collie laid motionless for a while, eventually leaving with a concussion.

As for the play? Instant replay showed Collie had possession and fumbled the ball after the back of his head slammed into Coleman’s shoulder. It was ruled incomplete and, since Collie’s second foot wasn’t down yet, an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver.

“What do you do?,” Coleman said. “It’s football, that’s what they pay us to do. You can’t change your style of play. Whatever happens, happens.”

Mikell was confused by the call.

“It’s hard to tell in a split second which way he’s turning,”?Mikell said. “In my opinion, he wasn’t still in the air, looking away or up. Maybe we need to figure out what a defenseless receiver is.”

The play overshadowed what was an impressive day for the Eagles. It was the first time the franchise had ever beaten Peyton Manning, and its first win over Indianapolis since 1993.

“They’ve kind of been a thorn in our side,” Mikell said. “It’s big. All week we’ve been preaching four quarters of football.”

What went right …

1 Survived the onslaught — Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson, called into duty with Ellis Hobbs (sore hip) out, was picked on early and often by Colts QB Peyton Manning. Patterson held his own against Reggie Wayne, who was targeted a game-high 16 times. Wayne finished with 11 catches for 83 yards ­­ —more importantly, Patterson kept him out of the end zone.

2 Stretch marks — With DeSean Jackson back in the lineup, the field was wide open. The Colts had to respect Jackson’s speed, allowing for big plays in the middle of the field. Vick took advantage with 74 rushing yards, including scrambles of 24 and 32 yards.

3 Special teams —Is Bobby April finally getting through? The Eagles’ much-maligned special teams unit turned in a decent day, with their average drive starting at the 36-yard line. Meanwhile, the Colts were consistently starting at their own 25.

What went wrong …

1 Tighten up – Peyton Manning knew the Eagles struggle covering athletic tight ends, so he took full advantage all day, hooking up with Jacob Tamme 11 times for 108 yards and a score. Brandon Graham and Stewart Bradley had a lot of trouble keeping up with Tamme.

2 The refs – It’s a tough job, especially with all the new rules, but the zebras had a bad day. Besides the phantom call on the Collie hit, the refs were letting the flags fly. They called 21 penalties for 184 yards, including a slap on Manning’s helmet that nearly cost the Eagles the W.

3 Red zone woes – When Mike Vick was ‘playing out of his mind’ during his first installment as the starter, he was a red-zone machine, converting 7-of-8 trips. Against the Colts, the offense went 2-for-5 and settled for four field goals.

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