Michael Vick was a non-factor in the Cowboys and Eagles' first match-up of the season, a 20-16 Cowboys win on November 8, rushing for 2 yards on one carry; ditto for the second meeting, a 24-0 Cowboys win last week, as Vick was out with a bruised quadriceps.
Whether he'll be a factor in the third and final meeting of the teams this Saturday night, we don't know; but Vick will play, which will give the Cowboys another wrinkle to look for moving into the first round showdown.
"That was surprising, looking back,"linebacker Bobby Carpenter said of Vick's absence. "That's another thing that they can add. I'm sure when the game was kind of out of hand, they held some stuff back. They're going to have some new wrinkles."
The idea that the Eagles "held something back" has actually been a source of debate recently, though most (including us) find this notion a bit absurd, an approach that would be wildly uncharacteristic for an Andy Reid-coached team. Vick said that his being held out was due to a purely medical concern.
"[Reid] just wanted to take precaution and make sure the time is right when I go out there and not re-aggravate it," Vick said. "I didn't want to go out there and play if I wasn't 100 percent. I don't get the indication that we held back anything. Look at what we were playing for: We were playing for a first-round bye, so we gave it our best shot. They were just the better team."
There will not likely be any harebrained notions of one team holding back come Saturday. Indeed, the Cowboys have consistently, tirelessly expressed an undeniable truth throughout the week thus far: That they're going to get the Eagles' best. This will likely include some involvement on the part of Vick, who had been used primarily as a red zone and short yardage threat before the quad injury flared up.
This doesn't mean you'll see any major reconstruction of the defensive game plan that worked so swimmingly in week 17; This is due mostly to the fact that, with Vick's status unclear, Dallas prepared for Vick-led packages for much of last week.
"It's a little bit different when he gets in the ball game," Head Coach Wade Phillips said. "You have to be aware of what they're trying to do with him. It's a little bit different than what they do with their normal offense."