Rusty Vick helps Eagles edge Browns 17-16By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
2012-09-10 05:56:56 -
CLEVELAND (AP) After throwing his go-ahead touchdown pass, Michael Vick hardly celebrated. He couldn't. He was too busy exhaling.
``It was a sigh of relief,'' he said.
A huge one.
Vick, showing major rust after missing most of the preseason and committing some of the mistakes he made last year, overcame four interceptions - and nearly a fifth on the final drive - by throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with 1:18 left as the Philadelphia Eagles rallied for a 17-16 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
For most of the opener, Vick was awful, atrocious, abysmal.
But when he had to, Vick made just enough big plays.
``When you throw interceptions,'' Vick said, ``it's one thing. But when you throw an interception for a touchdown and it changes the dynamic of the game, you look up at the scoreboard and now you're losing, you feel a sense of dissatisfaction.
``I have a responsibility to this team and that's to lead them, not to hurt them.''
Vick hurt the Eagles most when he threw his fourth interception early in the fourth quarter and it was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who somersaulted the final few yards into the end zone as Cleveland fans flipped out in the stands thinking an upset was possible.
But with the Eagles down 16-10, Vick marched them 91 yards for the go-ahead TD on his career-high 56th pass. Before that, the superstar showed that missing all but 12 snaps during the preseason because of injuries was indeed a big deal.
However, Vick came through at the end and rallied the Eagles, who hurt themselves with five turnovers and 12 penalties.
``The great thing about it was nobody pointed fingers,'' said Vick, who finished 29 of 56 for 317 yards. ``Everybody just stuck together and encouraged one another. We got out of here 1-0, and that's what's important.''
But even on that final drive there were flaws. Vick recovered his own fumble on a third-down scramble, and one play before his TD pass to Harbor, Browns rookie linebacker L.J. Fort let what could have been a game-clinching interception slip out of his hands.
``Oh, man,'' Vick said when reminded of his luck. ``I gotta get out of Cleveland.''
After the Eagles took the lead, the Browns had one last chance but rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden threw his fourth interception with 1:05 remaining and Cleveland fell to 1-13 in season openers since 1999.
LeSean McCoy rushed for 110 yards for the Eagles, who insisted they never lost faith in Vick as he struggled.
``He's got a lot of courage, man,'' wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. ``We worked so hard throughout the offseason and through training camp just to come out on fire and set this team up for a long year and great success. Sometimes, it doesn't always work that way.
``But you could see that he fought back. He kept making plays. Regardless of him being down on himself, everybody was saying, `We will still ride with you.' It was a good situation to see him come back and make a game-winning throw.''
Weeden's day started on a comical note as he got trapped under a giant American flag being unfurled on the field for the national anthem.
``I was expecting to get a little warning,'' Weeden said. ``I was playing catch. I always stand on the 35- or 40-yard line. Next thing I know there's about a 100-yard flag over the top of me. I sat on my hands and knees and kind of waited - me and one of the equipment managers. I looked at him and said, `this (stinks).' ``
The rest of his day didn't go much better.
He finished 12 of 35 for 118 yards, had the four picks and forced several throws. According to STATS LLC, Weeden's 5.1 rating is the sixth lowest in a season opener by any quarterback attempting at least 15 passes since the merger in 1970.
Weeden didn't need that nugget to know he stunk.
``I take a lot of pride in playing better than that and I put our team in some difficult situations,'' Weeden said. ``Our defense gave us every chance to win and offensively, myself included, took away from that. I'm down right now. I expect to play better than that.''
Although they played a Super Bowl contender tough, it was another downer for the young Browns, who have 15 rookies on their roster.
``It stings.'' Weeden said.
Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson had 19 carries for 39 yards. It was the No. 3 overall pick's first game action since January's BCS title game for Alabama. He missed the exhibition season after undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 9.
Richardson announced his arrival with a punishing inside run. He went 9 yards before lowering his head and blasting safety Kurt Coleman, whose helmet went flying several yards. Coleman wound up with cuts on the bridge of his nose, upper lip and a swollen lower lip.
``I got caught flat footed and didn't see him coming,'' Coleman said. ``I felt the collision. But I'm OK with it. We got the win.''
Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 43, 42 and 22 yards for the Browns.
NOTES: Coach Andy Reid's 137th win passed Hall of Famer Hank Stram for 22nd on the career wins list. ... Browns CB Sheldon Brown injured his shoulder in the first and didn't return. ... Browns LB Scott Fujita didn't dress despite the three-game suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal being temporarily lifted. Fujita doesn't know what to expect next. ``This is completely unchartered territory,'' he said. ``There's no precedent. I felt good about it all along. Everyone thought I was crazy for feeling optimistic, but I still feel good about what's ahead, even though I don't know what's ahead.'' ... Eagles K Alex Henery made a 42-yard field goal but missed from 45, ending his consecutive streak at 17, tying David Akers (2001, 2009) for the team record.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.