Eagles Escape Cleveland With 17-16 Win
The Eagles squeaked out a 17-16 win over the Browns as Michael Vick threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with 1:18 remaining after throwing four interceptions, including a go-ahead pick six to D’Qwell Jackson in the fourth quarter.
“We did enough negative things to where it’s tough to win a game, but we kept battling and good things happened,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “You’re going to have games like this you’ve got to battle through and have the intestinal fortitude enough to keep fighting and they did that.”
Philadelphia’s defense bailed out Vick, who was 29-of-56 for 317 yards, two touchdowns, four picks and a passer rating of 51.0.
“It was us in the huddle just stepping up and saying lets get it done,” Vick said of the final scoring drive. “We had been through so much throughout the game with the penalties and the turnovers. The great thing – nobody pointed a finger. Everybody just stuck together and encouraged each other.”
The Eagles defense picked off rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden four times, with Kurt Coleman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie grabbing two a piece. Weeden went 12-of-35 for 118 yards, no touchdowns, four picks and a rating of 5.1 in his NFL debut.
“Gotta give credit to the defense, you know, they saved us,” Vick said. “The defense went out and played well and they looked good.”
The game was marred by penalties and stagnant offense from the beginning, but the Eagles took a 10-3 lead into the half after Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for an 18-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the opening half.
Vick’s turnovers kept the Browns around, though, and with the score 10-6 late in the third quarter, it was another interception that swung the door wide open. Browns cornerback Joe Haden, playing thanks to an appeal on his suspension for a positive drug test, intercepted a Vick pass and returned it 50 yards to the Eagles’ 22-yardline.
That set up a 22-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, cutting the Eagles lead down to 10-9. On the very next offensive play, Vick was intercepted by D’Qwell Jackson, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown and a 16-10 lead.
“When you throw an interception it’s one thing,” said Vick. “But when you throw an interception for a touchdown and it changes the dynamic of the game when you look up at the scoreboard and now you’re losing, you feel a sense of dissatisfaction. You look over at the sideline and you hold yourself accountable.”
The Eagles committed to the run on the next drive, with five LeSean McCoy rushes for 42 yards and a Bryce Brown run for four yards on their next drive, with a few Vick passes mixed in. When the drive stalled out at the Browns’ 27-yardline, Alex Henery missed a 45-yard field goal.
“We probably could have done a little bit more of that early,” Reid said of the rushing game. “We had a couple fumbles in that early and got away from it, but I thought we, I thought as it’s all said and done, we probably could have run a little bit more early.”
The Browns picked up one first down, moving the ball to the Eagles’ 46-yardline, but the Birds defense got a stop and gave the Eagles another shot.
Vick found Jason Avant for gains of eight and six yards. A couple plays later, a roughing the passer penalty moved the ball out to the Eagles 41-yardline. Vick hit DeSean Jackson for nine yards and McCoy rushed for seven, giving the Eagles a first down at the Browns’ 43.
Vick connected with Maclin for 11 yards, but a pair of incomplete passes brought up third-and-10. Vick scrambled on the key play, spinning out of a tackle near the first down marker but losing the football and recovering it a yard short of the first down.
“That guy was pretty strong,” Vick said. “Whatever it took, I was going to get that ball back.”
On fourth-and-one, McCoy picked up the first down with a short run to the right.
Two plays later, Vick hit tight end Brent Celek for a pivotal 17-yard gain, setting up first-and-goal at the 3-yardline. After narrowly avoiding an interception on second down, when a Browns defensive back dropped a pick in the end zone, Vick hit Harbor for the game-tying touchdown on a short pass to the right.
Henery drilled the extra point, giving the Birds a 17-16 edge. On the very first play of the Browns drive, Kurt Coleman notched his second interception of the game, sealing the win, when Weeden was wildly inaccurate on a pass over the middle of the field.
Vick said he definitely gave a sigh of relief after narrowly escaping with a victory.
“Oh man, yeah,” Vick said. “I gotta get out of Cleveland. I’ve got to get out of Cleveland.”
The Eagles got out of Cleveland with a win, but they’ll have plenty of improvements to make before next week’s home opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Eagles cornerback Curtis Marsh has a hamstring injury, but no more details were given. Wide receiver Riley Cooper (collarbone), safety Colt Anderson (knee) and running back Dion Lewis (hamstring) did not play.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.