Eagles beat Browns in ugly season opener

Kurt Coleman had two picks against Cleveland, including this one to put the finishing touches on a 17-16 Eagles win.

Mike Vick doesn’t have quite the same swagger that he did in 2010. He slumps his shoulders a little more. He smiles a little less in the huddle. Maybe that’s the toll of playing three seasons as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback.

Still, when the Eagles needed a big drive, his teammates looked at No. 7. It wasn’t pretty — far from it, with Vick fumbling and nearly losing the ball  — but Vick delivered in the clutch. Going mostly no huddle, Vick connected with tight end Clay Harbor on a 4-yard touchdown to complete an otherwise unimpressive 17-16 comeback win in Cleveland.

“I knew it was do or die and my teammates had that sudden look in their eye, as if they was wondering what was wrong with my attitude, why was I hanging my head,” Vick said. “They never seen me like that before, but I just felt like I let them down and it will never happen again.”

Not exactly the words of a confident field general. But this wasn’t a confident performance. Vick threw up four interceptions — most of them inexcusable — while fumbling twice. He was 29-of-56 for 317 yards (51.0 QB rating), but that one final heave is what the Eagles will focus on as they look to put opening weekend behind them. Hey, they are 1-0 after one of the ugliest wins in recent years.

“You have to have these types of games to become a championship football team,” Vick said.

When reporters tried to sneak extra questions in after his postgame press conference, an exhausted Vick summed it up best, “I’m just trying to get out of Cleveland.”

Vick can thank LeSean McCoy for getting him out of Ohio with a W. Knowing his quarterback was struggling, coach Andy Reid let LeSean McCoy run the pace car for much of the fourth quarter, when he rumbled for 55 of his 110 rushing yards.

“Too many times we put too much pressure on him, too many expectations,” McCoy said. “He’s such a good player and we rely on him too much. He’s still human. He might be Mike Vick the superstar, but he’s still human. As a team, we have to do better to support him. I think late in the [game-winning] drive we did that.”

DeSean shows some leadership

Did you see DeSean Jackson call an impromptu meeting on the sideline? Following a first-quarter possession — marred by a penalty, then interception — an animated Jackson huddled up his teammates.

“He basically said, ‘We’re killing ourselves, let’s get this thing going,’” center Jason Kelce said.

Jackson also had arguably the play of the game when he broke up a would-be interception on the game-winning drive.

“If we give up an interception there, we’re down six with 2 minutes left,” Jackson said. “I was just trying to knock that ball down.”

Don’t disrespect me, bro

Nnamdi Asomugha can keep cashing those checks, but so far Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has the inside track to the Pro Bowl.

Rodgers-Cromartie made two interceptions and probably should have had a third, after he dropped a pass that was slightly tipped in his direction. It bounced right off his fingertips in his own end zone. The Browns appeared to be going right at DRC, especially on vertical routes, and the Eagles cornerback seemed surprised.

“Honest opinion? Honest opinion? No,” when asked if he expected to be challenged like that. “Not on no deep ball. I was expecting them to come at me on the underneath routes, but as far as just lining up and throwing it deep, I didn’t expect it.”

Did DRC feel disrespected?

“No question,” he said.

Asomugha could be heard chuckling in the adjacent locker stall.

Meet the replacements

The replacement refs, the same ones NFL commish Roger Goodell gave a huge vote of confidence to despite a horrendous preseason, were just as bad as advertised. The Eagles were called for 12 penalties for 110 yards, including some questionable holds and an iffy roughing-the-passer call on Phillip Hunt.

“A lot of them are just blatant penalties, some are called, some are not called,” center Jason Kelce said. “If they are called, you got to play the game that the officials are calling, so if they’re hounding on offensive holding and personal fouls, then don’t give them a reason to throw the flag.”

No one, fearing fines, wanted to comment but the folks at Deadspin have done a nice job chronicling their failures. The most blatant one in the Cleveland-Philadelphia game — aside from them referring to the Eagles as “green ” and the Browns as “white” — came when they allowed Browns coach Pat Shurmur to challenge a fumble that couldn’t be challenged. They eventually got it right, but only after a lengthy booth review.

Reid updates injuries, sticking with Vick

Andy Reid only listed one player on his injury report: second-year cornerback Curtis Marsh tweaked a hamstring. Jeremy Maclin, who left the game on two separate occasions and went into the locker room for IV treatment, said he was feeling good. So did Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who got a stinger.

“For some reason, my legs and everything wasn’t working,” Maclin said. “I’ll continue to rehab this week.”

And — as bad as Mike Vick was struggling — Reid said the thought of bringing rookie backup quarterback Nick Foles never entered his mind.

“No, I just thought he had to work through it,” Reid said. “He’s our quarterback so you’ve got to do that. Nobody pointed fingers and we came out on the positive side of things.”

Hats off to Trent Richardson

The unquestioned JACKED UP highlight of the day came when Browns rookie back Trent Richardson plowed into Eagles safety Kurt Coleman at the end of a powerhouse run. Coleman’s helmet popped off and landed several yards away.

“I got cracked by the wide receiver and when he hit me, my helmet chinstrap popped off and then I couldn’t even see, and the rest is history,” Coleman said.

Coleman never left the game, not even for a play. He had some dried blood on his face in the locker room. Meanwhile, Richardson was held to just 39 yards on 19 touches.

 


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