Vick scare part of Eagles' win over Patriots

Posted: August 21, 2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Again, Michael Vick went for X-rays after the Eagles' sixth snap of the game. The X-rays were negative, just as in the preseason opener, but again Vick did not return to the game.

Nothing else that happened in Eagles' 27-17 preseason win over the New England Patriots on Monday night mattered.

Sure, you could make a case it mattered that the first-team defense had some of the same problems getting off the field it had in the preseason opener against the Steelers, even though the Pats didn't play Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski or Wes Welker, among others. New England converted seven of 11 first-half third downs. That wasn't encouraging. But if Vick can't stay healthy, does it really matter whether the defense is any good? All a decent defense is going to do is mess up your draft position.

This time the sixth snap was a pass play on which the Patriots got inside pressure through left guard Evan Mathis. Vick stepped away from the pressure, but instead of quickly throwing the ball away, Vick wound up and launched a long heave toward DeSean Jackson (who, new attitude and all, still seemed to have given up on the play, by the way). This decision left Vick wide-open to a punishing rib shot from 6-3, 255-pound Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, who had eluded right tackle Todd Herremans after a long parry.

Vick slowly walked to the Gillette Stadium locker room to have the ribs on his left side X-rayed. He has missed games the last two seasons with rib injuries, and after coming back from that last season, felt he had some extra help from a new lightweight padding system. So much for that.

In the preseason opener, Aug. 9, the sixth snap also was a pass play that broke down because of pressure, Vick then banging his throwing hand on center Jason Kelce's helmet.

Granted, ribs and a bruised thumb are not in the same stratosphere as, say, a torn ACL, but Vick and Andy Reid spent much of the offseason talking about how the final four quarterbacks in last season's playoffs all played every game for their teams, how important it was that Vick do everything he can to avoid injury.

Banging a thumb on a helmet isn't an injury Vick can do much to avoid. But he absolutely could have avoided opening himself up for that blast from Cunningham. He could have just ducked and taken the sack. That is not the sort of thing Vick has been known for in his nine previous NFL seasons.

However, Reid said he didn't think Vick took an unnecessary injury risk. "Things happen," Reid said. He said Vick would get an MRI and a CT scan today to assess possible cartilage damage.

Mathis said he was to blame for the hit, that he missed a blocking call at the line and though he had help inside from Kelce when he did not. "Pretty much 100 percent my fault there," Mathis said.

Vick completed one of three passes Monday for 5 yards, after throwing for 6 yards in the opener. So, good chance he doesn't play again this preseason, and he has thrown for 11 yards. Total.

The game started off on the wrong foot, for an Eagles team looking to test its mettle against a perennial top-echelon team. The Patriots, like the Eagles, play again Friday - New England travels to Tampa. But the Patriots don't see the Bucs after that, unless they meet in the Super Bowl. So Pats coach Bill Belichick decided to stick with the traditional practice of making the third preseason game, the Tampa game, the test for his starters. If the Eagles weren't playing Cleveland Friday and then again in the Sept. 9 season opener, Reid might have decided to do the same.

The Eagles' defensive starters forced a punt against second-year quarterback Ryan Mallett and the Patriots' offense in the first series, but after a third-down miscommunication between Vick and Jason Avant on the Eagles' first series, the Birds had to punt and Mallett put together a 56-yard, 11-play drive for a 51-yard field goal. Just as in the preseason opener, a penalty got the opposition out of a hole - Darryl Tapp's late hit turning second-and-long into a first down at the Birds' 43. Tapp had an even more egregious late hit in the second quarter; the Birds reached the first-half 2-minute warning with nine penalties for 86 yards, made it 10 for 91 by halftime. They finished with 16 for 131 yards.

"Pretty simple, too many penalties in the game," Reid said.

After a sequence that included an illegal-substitution penalty, allowing New England to convert a two-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point, ESPN's cameras showed Reid yelling at defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and defensive-line coach Jim Washburn. Players said Reid was addressing the defensive line.

"I was born with red hair. I know I don't have much of it now," Reid said. "Sometimes it flares up."

Said Jenkins: "It's football. It's an emotional game . . . I'm a real competitive person."

Nick Foles' play was the brightest spot. The third-round rookie came into the evening thinking he might get in toward the end of the third quarter, certainly a few series in the fourth. Instead, with 6:01 left in the first quarter, it was his game, through the third, which ended with the Birds ahead, 24-14.

Foles hit tight end Clay Harbor for a pair of touchdowns. He was picked off on an underthrown ball to Jeremy Maclin in the end zone near the end of the first half that could have been a touchdown throw, but he bounced back. Foles' first series of the second half was 80 yards in eight plays, ending with the second TD to Harbor.

When Trent Edwards took over for the fourth quarter, Foles had completed 18 of 28 passes for 217 yards and a 96.9 passer rating. Against the Steelers, he was 6-for-10 for 144 yards, two TDs and a 143.8 passer rating.

Reid said he's never had a rookie QB as successful as Foles has been in these two games. Foles said he is focused on making plays, and not on whether he can take the No. 2 role away from Mike Kafka.

"I'm just trying to get better and help the team any way I can," said Foles, who said he would be confident he could perform if that happened.

Birdseed

Brandon Boykin did a fine job keeping Pats returner Brandon Bolden from falling on his fumble, which was recovered by Akeem Jordan . . . Boykin also looked good in the slot corner role . . . Another very strong night for Phillip Hunt, the Eagles' best defensive end in the preseason, who forced a fumble that set up the first Nick Foles-to- Clay Harbor touchdown of the game . . . Rough night for the replacement refs, who needed replay review to discern that an obvious incomplete pass to Brent Celek was not a fumble run back for a touchdown by the Patriots . . . Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return . . . Alex Henery was a few yards short on a 55-yard field goal attempt, but Mike Gibson ran on the field late and was called for an illegal substitution, making the miss moot . . . The Patriots observed a moment of silence for Andy Reid's son Garrett, who died Aug. 5.

Contact Les Bowen at bowenl@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily NEws' blog at eagletarian.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|