In some small ways, this was a preseason game like any other for head coach Andy Reid. There were mistakes, things to work on like blocking and tackling from the first- and second-team units. There were positives to take away, like the return game and the rallying play of the third- and fourth-team offenses. But of course, this was no ordinary game for Reid, as it came only four days after the tragic, untimely passing of his oldest son Garrett.
"Every day, you want it to be a better day in this kind of situation," Reid said following the game. "I got a lot of support, but that doesn't erase what took place. But life goes on, and that's how things work. This was one more step forward, so we'll try to take another step forward tomorrow, which I think is important."
Prior to kickoff, there was a moment of silence in Garrett's honor throughout Lincoln Financial Field. Then, during a break in the first quarter, the stadium videoboard displayed a message on behalf of the Reid family, thanking the Eagles fans for their support throughout the devastating past several days. That message elicited a groundswell among the fans in attendance, as they proceeded to drown the stadium with chants of "An-Dy, An-Dy …"
"On behalf of me and my family, I'd like to thank the fans for their support. They were above and beyond, and we do appreciate that," Reid said to open his press conference. "That stuff is so humbling. I take that as a compliment to my son and to my family. That is a humbling thing, and I appreciate every bit of it. We feel the love, and during these kind of times, that is important."
Beyond those emotions, there was still a game to play for the Eagles. Despite an inauspicious first half, Reid's Eagles rallied for a 24-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, thanks to a two-minute drive orchestrated by the fourth-team offense, punctuated by a game-winning 51-yard Alex Henery field goal. Through it all, the players, who were all wearing black "GR" stickers on their helmets, were in Reid's corner.
"I was happy for Alex. That was quite a kick," said Reid. "As much love as the fans are showing and the players are showing, it's always good to see at the end of a game the veteran players are into it when the young guys are playing. That's exciting during a preseason game. They were cheering on the young guys, and they were excited to be there. I appreciate their support too in this situation."
As for what did transpire on the field, Reid's most notable thoughts were on the quarterbacks. First, Michael Vick, who left the game following an injury to his left thumb, will be alright, Reid said.
"Mike is fine," Reid said. "He hurt his thumb, but you saw him gripping the ball, and he was fine by the end of the game. He just hit the nerve on the top there – like a stinger on our thumb. He got it X-rayed and there were no breaks in there."
Three other Eagles sustained injuries, with Jeremy Maclin, Cullen Jenkins and Dion Lewis all incurring hamstring strains.
Behind Vick, Mike Kafka struggled with the second unit, completing five-of-nine passes for 31 yards, with an interception return for a touchdown on a botched screen to boot, giving him a quarterback rating of 23.1 on the night. Then, rookie third-round pick Nick Foles proceeded to light the game on fire, tossing two long touchdown passes for a quarterback rating of 143.8. Of course, Foles was facing lighter competition than Kafka was, but when asked about any potential jockeying for the No. 2 quarterback job, Reid made no bones about the team's approach.
"I've got to look at the tape. I'll see what we can do there for (Kafka), and see where the mistakes were," Reid said. "You know me and you have been around me long enough to know that everything is open. I keep it wide open at all positions. Whoever is playing the best is going to play. We keep it nice and simple that way."
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