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Vick overcomes interceptions as Eagles edge Browns

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Associated Press
9/9/2012 6:44:46 PM
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CLEVELAND -- Even after his heroics saved Philadelphia from embarrassment, Michael Vick still had escape on his mind.

"Oh, man," the quarterback said. "I gotta get out of Cleveland."

The Eagles hardly soared, but flew away with a win anyway.

Overcoming four interceptions -- and nearly a fifth -- by throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clay Harbor with 1:18 left, Vick rallied the penalty-prone Eagles to a nerve-racking, 17-16 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

With his team trailing 16-10, Vick marched them 91 yards for the go-ahead score on his career-high 56th pass. Before that, the superstar played poorly and showed major rustiness after getting just 12 snaps during the preseason because of injuries.

But when it mattered most, Vick came through, and the Eagles, who hurt themselves with five turnovers and 12 penalties, prevailed.

"I wasn't going to disappoint my coaches and I wasn't going to disappoint my teammates," Vick said. "Whatever it took, I was going to get it done."

Vick went 29 of 56 for 317 yards and threw two TDs, his first to Jeremy Maclin for 18 yards in the final minute of the first half. But besides those two passes, there were moments when Vick forced passes and looked more like a rookie than a four-time Pro Bowler.

On the play before his TD pass to Harbor, Vick underthrew Maclin and was nearly intercepted by rookie linebacker L.J. Fort, who let the ball and game slip through his hands.

"He threw it right to me," said Fort, who picked Vick off in the first half. "I should have made that play, definitely."

But in the end, Vick was the one who made the biggest plays.

"I thought he was rusty," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "But he kept competing, kept shooting. He's our quarterback and he had to work through it. He had to play, had to endure and had to tough it out."

Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden threw four interceptions, the last to Kurt Coleman with 1:05 remaining, as Cleveland fell to 1-13 in season openers since 1999.

LeSean McCoy rushed for 110 yards for Philadelphia, which trailed 16-10 in the fourth after Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson returned Vick's fourth pick 27 yards for a touchdown. But even though Cleveland had the lead, there was still plenty of time for Vick.

"It didn't matter what we did for three quarters," Jackson said. "We had to stop them to win the game. We were on the field to win it and we lost."

With Vick struggling, the Eagles appeared doomed and poised to follow their ill-fated "Dream Team" season with an embarrassing loss. Owner Jeffrey Lurie recently said a second straight 8-8 record would not cut it, and the Eagles were nearly on their way to mediocrity.

"We did enough positive things to win the game," said Reid, whose 15th season in Philadelphia began after a personally difficult summer when his 29-year-old son, Garrett, was found dead. "Nobody hung their head. The defence made big play after big play. But with the turnovers and penalties, we have a lot to take care of."

On the winning drive, the Eagles converted a fourth-and-1 after Vick scrambled for 9 and fumbled on third down. He recovered, but Browns coach Pat Shurmur threw his red challenge flag and asked the replacement officials to review the play.

However, referee Ken Roan discussed the play with the booth and announced it was "not challengeable."

"I know it was a fumble," Shurmur insisted. "I saw us with the ball. So that's why I challenged it."

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.

The rest of his pro debut wasn't so funny.

He finished 12 of 35 for 118 yards, had the four picks and forced several throws.

"I take a lot of pride in playing better than that," Weeden said. "Our defence gave us every chance to win and offensively, myself included, took away from that. I'm down right now."

Cleveland rookie running back Trent Richardson had 19 carries for 39 yards. The No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft only returned to practice this week after undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 9.

Richardson announced his arrival in the second quarter with a punishing inside run. He went 9 yards before lowering his head and blasting Coleman, whose helmet went flying several yards. After the Browns punted, Coleman spent several minutes being tended to on the bench by trainers, who worked on his face. Coleman had cuts on the bridge of his nose, upper lip and a swollen lower lip.

Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 43, 42 and 22 yards for the Browns.

NOTES: Browns CB Sheldon Brown left with a shoulder injury in the first quarter and didn't return. ... Browns LB Scott Fujita didn't dress despite the three-game suspension for his role in the New Orleans bounty program being temporarily lifted. ... Reid's 137th win passed Hall of Famer Hank Stram for 22nd on the career wins list. ... Eagles K Alex Henery made a field goal from 42 yards, but missed from 45, ending his consecutive streak at 17, tying David Akers (2001, 2009) for the team record ... The Eagles held the Browns to 210 total yards and 2 of 13 on third downs. ...

Michael Vick (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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