EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Michael Vick pushed his way into the end zone and then struggled to figure out what to do next.
After all, it had been three seasons since his last NFL touchdown.
“I didn’t even know what to do with myself,” the Philadelphia quarterback said. “I always told myself I was going to keep the ball, hand it to an offensive lineman, spike it. I got up and I just lost it. My mind went blank. I just ran off the field like nothing happened.”
Despite the two-yard touchdown run, Vick was hardly dynamic in his first significant action since the 2006 season, hours after finding out he’ll be fully reinstated in Week 3. He was sacked four times, lost a fumble and was intercepted as the New York Jets beat the Eagles 38-27 on Thursday night.
“It felt good to finally get out and get some snaps at the quarterback position,” Vick said. “I think I played fairly well. A lot of things I could’ve done better, but it was good to get out there and play some quarterback on a consistent basis and shake off the cobwebs a little bit.”
He finished 7-for-11 for 26 yards, and carried the ball seven times for 35 yards.
“It was good to get him in there,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “I’m sure he’ll be a little sore tomorrow. That’s OK. He’ll have a couple of weeks to recover from it.”
Meanwhile, Jets rookie Mark Sanchez looked sharp, completing all five of his passes, and capped his only series with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery.
“I think that was exactly the sort of statement we wanted to make as an offence to ourselves and to the league,” Sanchez said. “We want to feel like a force to be reckoned with.”
Danny Woodhead, making a bid to make the team, ran for 158 yards – the NFL’s second-highest pre-season total since 1992 – and two touchdowns.
“We see it everyday in practice, but we wanted to sit back, eat some popcorn and let him do his thing out there,” Cotchery said. “I know a lot of people were excited about the Vick comeback, but we were looking forward to the Woodhead show.”
After David Akers kicked a 36-yard field goal to make it a four-point game, Erik Ainge threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to David Clowney to make it 38-27 with 4:51 remaining.
Vick, released from federal custody July 20 after serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence for his role in operating a dogfighting ring, will be eligible to play Sept. 27 against Kansas City, commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier Thursday.
Booed each time he ran onto the field in the first half, Vick’s TD gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
“They booed and that’s part of the game,” Vick said. “At the same time, I felt some love. I understand that that’s part of what I have to deal with and what any quarterback around this league has to deal with.”
Playing in his second game with the Eagles, Vick lined up at quarterback, faked a handoff and ran up the middle from two yards out 25 seconds into the quarter. It was really the only highlight of the game after an important day for Vick, who met with Goodell a few hours before the game and was told he could play starting in Week 3.
“I still think I’m a couple of weeks away,” Vick said.
Vick entered the game on the Eagles’ third play from scrimmage to mostly boos from the Meadowlands crowd and took a direct snap and ran two yards for a first down. One play later, he lined up at quarterback.
Vick was in and out of the lineup in the opening half, and was intercepted on his first pass of the first half. His toss intended for Jeremy Maclin was slightly underthrown from 36 yards as Dwight Lowery picked it off.
He opened the second half as the quarterback, but his feet also got him in trouble, losing 22 yards when he tried to scramble on third down in the third quarter. He kept losing yardage before he was sacked by Jamaal Westerman at the four-yard line. Vick also lost the ball on the play before recovering.
“We got a chance to see that he still has a little juice in those legs,” Reid said. “He turned it on a couple to times, which was impressive for a guy that hasn’t been playing much.”
The Eagles were forced to punt, and it set up the Jets’ go-ahead score – Woodhead’s three-yard run.
Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and most of the Eagles’ other starters didn’t play in this one, while most of the Jets’ starters on offence and defence played one series.
NOTES: The Jets had seven sacks, including the first for 2008 first-round pick Vernon Gholston, giving them 18 overall. It’s the most in a four-game pre-season since New England had 19 in 2003. … Eagles CB Dimitri Patterson will have an MRI after spraining his left ankle, and OT Winston Justice strained a pectoral muscle on a tackle. … Denver’s Mike Anderson had 159 yards rushing in a pre-season game in 2005.