Coleman's two touchdowns the only highlight from Eagles preseason loss to Jets

Eagles' Kurt Coleman (left) with Keenan Clayton after scoring on 64-yard fumble recovery against Jets.
Eagles' Kurt Coleman (left) with Keenan Clayton after scoring on 64-yard fumble recovery against Jets.
Posted: September 03, 2010

TWICE, KURT COLEMAN was just kinda standing there, minding his own business, and, hey - a football!

Coleman is a seventh-round rookie from Ohio State whose hard-hitting style and special-teams savvy probably had earned him an Eagles roster spot even before his scintillating two-touchdown first half in last night's preseason finale, a 21-17 loss to the visiting New York Jets. But Coleman might play a long time in the NFL without fortune ever smiling on him again the way it smiled in this game.

First time, the Jets were running the 12th play of a drive that had started on their 2. Running back Joe McKnight careened into one of his blockers on first down from the Birds' 35, and the ball popped free, bouncing high off the Lincoln Financial Field turf. Coleman picked it up in stride with no one in front of him. Jets quarterback Mark Brunell, who is nearing his 40th birthday, had the angle but not the wheels. In fact, the guy in the striped shirt did a better job of keeping up with Coleman as he romped down the left sideline 64 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Eagles lead.

"The funny thing about it was, we had just worked on scooping and scoring 2 days before. So I just got low, scooped it up, high hands, and just ran. As soon as I saw it was [Brunell], I kind of coasted off and just relaxed a little bit," Coleman said.

Next time, Jets were trying to move from their 1, down, 10-7. Fullback John Conner plunged into a big hole, but as he did, he tripped over a teammate's foot. Conner hit the ground hard at the 8, and the ball squirted out again, and, again, right into the arms of Coleman. This time, he had to run only 8 yards to his right, but there was more traffic - Coleman lugged persistent would-be tackler David Clowney over the line with him, with 40 seconds left in the half, giving the Birds a 17-7 lead.

"It just popped up. Moses [Moise Fokou] was yelling to pitch it back, but I said, 'I can't do that; I'm going in for the touchdown,' " Coleman said.

That's two unforced fumbles, two scoops, two Coleman touchdowns. The last one was reviewed to make sure Conner wasn't down by contact; initial replays seemed to show Eagles defensive end Eric Moncur reaching out to tick Conner's foot, but as more angles arrived, they showed the teammate trip, and Moncur grabbing air. The call stood.

Nobody can say whether this has ever happened in a preseason game before, because those records aren't official, but we do know it has happened only once in a real NFL game - Nov. 28, 1948, Fred "Dippy" Evans scoring twice with fumbles for the Bears against the Redskins.

"My high school coach [Collin Abel, of Northmont High in Dayton, Ohio] just texted me, and he said, 'Back to high school days, huh?' " said Coleman, who was a wideout for Northmont. "I haven't had two touchdowns in a long, long time, so it was a good feeling."

Asked about Coleman, coach Andy Reid said: "Obviously, he's always around the ball, and that is always a good thing. If he has the opportunity to hit, he usually makes contact and he gets you pretty good . . . He likes to punish you when he hits you."

Those two bloops were the night's highlights, by far; the evening belonged mostly to the deepest reserves, with the roster cutdown from 75 to 53 due by 6 p.m. tomorrow. How deep? Pannel Egboh, the defensive end the Eagles picked up 2 days earlier from the Texans, saw extensive second-half action. He forced a fumble on a sack and ran down a ballcarrier on a sweep for no gain. Jorrick Calvin, the corner the Eagles traded for from Arizona on Monday, played three quarters in the defensive backfield, with only the sketchiest notion of what was going on. He returned two kickoffs for 56 yards and two punts for 25.

"It was good to get the young players in there and give them an opportunity to play," Reid said. "They had quite a few reps, and that was what they needed. I was proud of some of them."

As for guys you've actually heard of, on the first drive of the game, quarterback Michael Vick moved the Eagles crisply downfield. Had a first down on the Jets' 19, second-and-4 on the 13, third-and-2 on the 11. Then, of course, this being the Birds' offense, regardless of who is running it, on third down, Vick rolled left under pressure, failed to find a receiver, even though there seemed to be some possibilities, and finally threw the ball away.

Reid, not wanting David Akers to miss out on a chance for his 11th field goal of the preseason, and not wanting to minimize the importance of three points in a completely meaningless game featuring no starters from either team, did not give Vick a chance to convert on fourth down.

In fact, after the next drive, which ended when fifth-round rookie wideout Riley Cooper had room and time but couldn't corral a Vick pass that arrived behind him, Vick was out of the game in favor of fourth-round rookie Mike Kafka.

Maybe Reid got spooked when Vick was sacked, on his next-to-last snap, and had to run for his life a few more times. Regardless, if you were hoping for a long look at how the No. 2 QB might run the offense should anything happen to Kevin Kolb this year, you were out of luck. Vick completed three of five passes for 56 yards and a 98.8 passer rating. He also ran twice, gaining 11 yards.

"The guy's 30 years old," Reid said of Vick. "He's been in this league a long time. I think he's ready to go."

"I feel like I'm back," Vick said after his first start since the 2006 season. "I felt good out there. I wish we could have put the ball into the end zone. I probably could have made a better throw to Riley. There were some other things that needed to happen within the play, but I felt good."

Kafka, often under pressure, saddled with a less-than-elite receiving corps, ended the first half 1-for-10 for 3 yards and a pick, for a nifty 0.0 passer rating. He ended the game 9-for-27 for 76 yards and a 26.9 rating.

"That was really why I pulled [Vick]," Reid said. "Mike Kafka needs the work. He is a young guy, and I just think that as many reps as he can possibly get are great for him. He can learn from it, and we have it on tape, so that he can come in and study it. I just think that every snap that he can get is a positive for him."

Reid didn't need to add, because it was understood, these might be his last snaps for a long, long time.

Birdseed

The Eagles finished the preseason 2-2, if anybody cares . . . David Akers' 49-yard field-goal miss near the end of the third quarter was his first shank of the preseason. Sav Rocca gave him the ball sideways, which might work in Australia, but not so much here . . . It's always interesting who doesn't play in the fourth preseason game - usually that means your roster spot is sewed up. No Hank Baskett last night, no Trevor Laws, no Mike Bell. No shockers there, but interesting. Corner Joselio Hanson was a starter and linebacker/defensive end Moise Fokou played deep into the game, notching eight solo tackles . . . Jets wideout Santonio Holmes playing deep into this game really created a 51-yard TD-bomb mismatch with Geoff Pope and Anthony Scirrotto. He now faces a four-game regular-season substance-abuse suspension. *

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.

Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/LesBowen.

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