Michael Vick’s long history of injuries always has the Philadelphia Eagles worried.
Maybe Nick Foles can put them at ease.
Filling in while Vick nurses bruised ribs, Foles threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and led the Eagles to a 27-10 victory over the mistake-prone Cleveland Browns on Friday night, a dress rehearsal for two teams who will meet again in the season opener.
Foles stepped in and played impressively again for the Eagles (3-0), who open the regular season in Cleveland on Sept. 9. Foles finished 12 of 19 for 146 yards with one interception.
If he’s feeling any pressure, he’s not showing it.
”I’m having a blast,” Foles said. ”You go out there and play the game. There’s nothing like it. I’m learning a lot. I’m developing a relationship with a lot of the guys.”
The Browns (2-1) had two costly turnovers in the first quarter, when they also had a punt blocked. It was not a good showing for their new owner, Jimmy Haslam III, who sat with Cleveland fans in the stands during the first quarter and watched his $1 billion purchase implode. The Browns had three fumbles, two interceptions and several costly penalties in the first 15 minutes.
”We did find a way to drive the ball, but you can’t turn it over,” Shurmur said. ”All of the things that you can’t do, we found a way to do it. It’s not good enough. We did not play well enough and we have to get it fixed.”
Browns rookie Brandon Weeden, making his debut at home, went 9 of 20 for 117 yards.
The Eagles hardly missed Vick, who took a shot to the ribs Monday night against New England. Vick didn’t accompany the team to Cleveland, but the oft-injured and sometimes reckless superstar, who has started 16 games just once in nine NFL seasons, is expected to be fully recovered and ready for the opener.
In case Vick’s injury lingers, Foles looked like a reliable replacement.
Taking advantage of a Cleveland miscue and the blocked punt, the third-round draft pick from Arizona rebounded from an interception by throwing two short TD passes in the opening quarter. Foles completed a 7-yard scoring pass to tight end Brent Celek, and tossed a 2-yarder to running back Dion Lewis.
Foles was intercepted on his second attempt, when he forced a deep throw into double coverage and was picked by Joe Haden. However, Foles, who has passed injured Mike Kafka (broken hand) on the depth chart, also showed composure while facing a first-team defense for the first time.
”For being a rookie he is so calm,” Celek said. ”Any time you ever make a mistake, if you can come back and let that go, you’re going to be fine in this league. We all make mistakes, it’s how you respond from it. Nick has done a great job, not only throughout camp but through the first few games.”
In three games, Foles has completed 36 of 57 passes for 507 yards with six TDs and two interceptions.
Eagles coach Andy Reid was impressed with Foles’ poise.
”He had a couple young-guy mistakes,” Reid said. ”He came back. He kept firing. You’re looking at that as a coach. Does he get gun shy or does he continue to fire? He stayed aggressive.”
Reid reiterated he believes Vick will be ready for the opener and said he threw passes for the first time since getting hurt on Friday.
”He feels better,” Reid said. ”That’s a plus. I will talk to him (Saturday) and see how he’s doing.”
Alex Henery’s 41-yard field goal in the second quarter put the Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32) ahead 17-0. Henery kicked a 28-yarder in the fourth.
The Browns were their own worst enemy.
The 28-year-old Weeden was sharp early on, completing his first four passes for 66 yards and driving the Browns to Philadelphia’s 2. But a holding penalty on guard Jason Pinkston backed the Browns up, and Weeden fumbled on the next play when he was sacked by Derek Landri, who came blasting in untouched through Cleveland’s line.
Later, Browns running back Montario Hardesty fumbled at Cleveland’s 14, setting up the Eagles’ first TD. Weeden fumbled again, but the Browns recovered.
”The second one was on me, I have to take better care of the football,” Weeden said. ”I understand the importance of it. I have to continue to harp on it.”
Colt McCoy, who lost his starting job to Weeden and is battling Seneca Wallace to be Cleveland’s No. 2 QB, threw a 3-yard scoring pass to tight end Evan Moore early in the fourth.
Following the game, McCoy, who has been the subject of trade rumors for months, refused to answer whether he felt he has done enough to earn the backup job.
”I don’t want to go there,” said McCoy, who went 7 of 9 for 74 yards.
Phil Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal for the Browns.
Weeden had some nice moments, but was constantly under pressure from Philadelphia’s starting defense, a unit he’ll see again in just over two weeks. His longest completion was a 28-yarder to rookie Josh Gordon on the first play from scrimmage. Weeden has yet to throw a TD pass as a pro.
The Browns (No. 30) were again without rookie running back Trent Richardson, who has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery Aug. 9. The No. 3 overall pick is expected to return to practice this week, and the Browns are optimistic he’ll be able to play in the opener.
They’ll need him.
Notes: During a TV interview, Haslam said he spoke to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week and that his purchase of the Browns will be voted on until the owners’ meeting in Chicago in October. … Browns DE Marcus Benard suffered a left arm injury. Benard, who missed most of last season after being seriously injured in a motorcycle crash, was in severe pain as he was taken immediately to the locker room by medical personnel. He left the stadium in a sling. … The Eagles committed seven penalties, raising their total to 29 in three games. It was a major improvement after they had 16 against the Patriots.