Eagles Avoid Vick Injury Scare Beat Steelers 24-23
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Michael Vick seemingly dodged devastating injury news when an x-ray on his left thumb came back negative, and the Eagles came from behind to beat the Steelers on a late field goal, 24-23.
Vick's thumb went numb after he clipped the helmet of Jason Kelce on his follow through, as the impact affected a nerve. Vick said the feeling returned after about 30 minutes.
"When it first happened, because I heard a pop, I thought it was broke," Vick said. "Thankfully it was because of the collision, not because of a broken bone."
Perhaps the most lasting moments of the night came as the crowd showed its support for Andy Reid, whose son Garrett died on Sunday. After a moment of silence before the game, Eagles fans gave Reid a long cheer, which he acknowledged with a wave of his hat.
"First of all, I'd like to thank the fans for the support, I mean they were unbelievable tonight," Reid said. "From me and my family, above and beyond - we do appreciate that."
Later, during a timeout, a thank you message from the Reid family to the Eagles and their fans was met with a standing ovation and a chant of "Andy, Andy, Andy!"
"You know what, I told you yesterday that that stuff is so humbling and I take that as a compliment to my son and my family," Reid said. "That's a humbling thing and I appreciate every bit of it. Listen, we feel the love and during these kinds of times, that's important."
On the field, Nick Foles, the Eagles rookie third-string quarterback, stole the show with a 6-of-10 night for 144 yards and two touchdowns, of 70 and 44 yards. Foles hit fellow rookie Damaris Johnson for the first touchdown, then found Mardy Gilyard for a score on his next attempt.
While it may be too soon to thrust Foles into the competition between Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards to be Vick's backup, Reid didn't rule it out in saying that he always views all competitions as completely open.
"It's one game," Foles said. "I'm just going to work every day and just trying to get better. I'm learning from these guys and they're helping me along the way. I've still got a lot of work to do, I'm not even worrying about that - that's the coaches' job."
Philadelphia’s defensive line shined throughout the night, with Phillip Hunt notching two sacks, Brandon Graham and Cedric Thornton recording one and Darryl Tapp and Brian Rolle splitting another. Later in the game, Monte Taylor and Xavier Brown brought the quarterback down as well. In all, the Eagles got to the quarterback seven times.
The Eagles opened the game by yielding a 16-play, 52-yard drive that resulted in a 46-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham. Philadelphia’s defense was beaten on two third down conversions and one fourth down conversion, despite a sack by Hunt and a shared sack by Tapp and Rolle to force the Steelers into two third-and-long situations.
The Eagles answered with a three-and-out, as Vick completed a 4-yard pass to Johnson to start the season, but was sacked on third down by Steve McLendon.
On the ensuing drive, the Steelers ran the ball down the Eagles throat after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul on a high hit he delivered to Byron Leftwich, negating a third down stop.
The Steelers ran the ball on five of the next six plays, gaining 47 yards before Leftwich hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 2-yard touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 10-0 lead.
Another three-and-out was capped off by a scary moment, as Vick’s throwing hand connected with a helmet on his follow through and he immediately left the field to seek the attention of the training staff. The Eagles later announced that x-rays were negative on Vick’s left thumb.
Never the less, Vick’s night was over midway through the second quarter, later than scheduled as the first-team offense lost 3 yards on their only two series.
Brandon Graham notched a sack of Leftwich on the following drive and Mike Kafka and the second-team offense took to the field for the first time.
Kafka’s season didn’t start as planned, as he threw an ugly interception under duress to Al Woods, a 300-plus pound defensive end. Bryce Brown, the Eagles seventh round pick, chased down the play and dropped Woods at the 4-yardline.
Pittsburgh went backwards, as Derek Landri dropped Chris Rainey for a 9-yard loss. Suisham added three points for the Steelers on a 31-yard field goal, making it 13-0.
The Eagles fought back into the game in the second half as Foles took over, finding Johnson for a 70-yard bomb after rolling out to avoid pressure. On the next play from scrimmage, Foles floated a deep ball nicely down the left sideline for Gilyard.
The Steelers answered when Rainey took a pass from Jerrod Johnson, who was in the Eagles training camp last year, 57 yards for a touchdown and a 20-14 lead.
Trent Edwards took over in the fourth quarter, and eventually found Jamel Hamler for a 16-yard touchdown to cap off a 9-play, 60-yard drive and put the Eagles on top 21-20. Edwards went on to complete 12-of-20 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Pittsburgh answered with a late drive resulting in a 43-yard field goal off the foot of Daniel Hrapmann with 1:57 remaining to give the Steelers a 23-21 lead.
Trent Edwards led the Eagles down the field in the two-minute drill, hitting Hamler for 11 yards and scrambling for 12. The Eagles would go for it on fourth-and-4 at the Steelers 39-yardline and convert as Edwards hit Tiger Jones for 7 yards. A spike stopped the clock with 24 seconds left and the ball at the 32-yardline.
Edwards threw the ball away under pressure on second-and-10, setting up a key third down. Edwards put a ball on the fingertips of Jones, who dropped it near the left sideline, setting up a 49-yard field goal attempt for Alex Henery with 16 seconds left.
The second-year kicker split the uprights, securing a 24-23 win for the Eagles.
- In their last two preseason games against the Steelers, the Eagles have been outscored 34-0 in the first half.
- In the backup for the third running back spot, Bryce Brown made the most of his three carries, gaining 33 yards. However, all 33 yards came on one carry. Brown also caught two passes for 16 yards. Chris Polk gained just 1 yard on three attempts, but caught three passes for 28 yards.
- Eagles kick returners were not particularly explosive last year, but tonight was a different story. Brandon Boykin returned his first kickoff 46 yards, which was 13 yards longer than the Eagles longest return last year - a 33 yarder by Dion Lewis. Boykin averaged 29.7 yards on three returns, while Damaris Johnson had 19 yards on his lone kick return.
- Johnson returned three punts for an average of 6 yards, but had one long return called back on a penalty. Mardy Gilyard returned one punt for 14 yards.
- Matt McBriar punted three times and averaged 42.3 yards per punt and 39.3 net yards. Chas Henry punted four times and averaged 37.8 yards and 33.8 net yards, but landed two inside the 20. Reid said it was too soon to comment on the battle.
- The Eagles were just 1-for-11 on third downs, but converted both fourth down attempts. The Steelers were 6-for-16 on third downs and 1-for-1 on fourth.
- The Eagles lost the time of possession battle 34:32 to 25:28, after trailing 16:20 to 2:30 early in the second quarter.
- Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks led the Eagles with five total tackles, and Curry led the Birds with three tackles for a loss.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.