It wasn't pretty, but the Eagles were able to leave Cleveland with a win to start the season on a winning note. Quarterback Michael Vick struggled throughout the game, but shook off the rust and marched the offense down the field to score the game-winning touchdown at the end of the game.
To head coach Andy Reid, the most important part of the game wasn't that the team struggled early. It's that they battled through adversity and got the win.
"We did enough negative things to where it's tough to win a game," Reid said after the game Sunday. "We kept battling, and good things happened. There are going to be games like this in this league that are close… you're going to have games like this; you have to battle through and have intestinal fortitude enough to keep fighting and they did that."
Vick finished the game 29-of-56 with 317 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Despite having a difficult game, Vick recovered when it mattered most. With just over a minute left in the game he threw a game-winning touchdown strike to tight end Clay Harbor. Reid was happy to see that Vick shook off the rust and inconsistency to deliver when the chips were down.
"I thought he was rusty," Reid said. "I thought it was important that he get back in the swing and work his way through it. And he did, he kept competing, he kept shooting; which you've got to do. And (Vick) came up on the positive side."
Despite Vick's early struggles, Reid never considered pulling his quarterback in favor of the rookie Nick Foles. Reid knew he had to allow his quarterback to get into the flow of the game, especially after missing time in the preseason.
"He's our quarterback, and you have to do that," Reid said. "The game's fast and it picks up even off the preseason and he didn't have any preseason. It's a fast game, and this was an important game for him to get in and play and endure and toughen it out, which he did. That's what you saw."
While the offense struggled throughout most of the game, the Eagles defense put on a stellar performance. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman each had two interceptions, and linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks were part of a run defense that limited rookie Trent Richardson to only 39 yards on 19 attempts. His long run was a mere nine yards.
"(The Browns are) a good run team," Reid said. "They've got a heck of a runner back there. I thought (defensive coordinator) Juan (Castillo) dialed it up right; I thought our guys got up in there and played well at the line of scrimmage. The d-line and the linebackers, I just thought really controlled things the right way up there and made it tough to run on."
Though the offense struggled early, Reid said no one on the sidelines pointed fingers or got down. Instead, they worked together, especially on defense.
"It was all positive energy going on there… they jelled at the end there and put it together," Reid said. "Nobody was hanging their head. Everybody was keeping it positive. And working. So you can build with that attitude. That's what we have to do."
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