Andy Reid was welcomed back to the sideline with a standing ovation and chants of ”Andy! Andy! Andy!”
Then the Philadelphia Eagles gave their grieving coach a small reason to smile.
Alex Henery kicked a 51-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to lift the Eagles to a 24-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in their preseason opener Thursday night.
After the Steelers went up on Daniel Hrapmann’s 42-yarder with 1:57 left, Trent Edwards led the Eagles back on an 11-play drive to set up Henery’s kick.
Reid coached the Eagles just two days after his 29-year-old son’s funeral. Garrett Reid, the oldest of five children for Andy and Tammy Reid, was found dead Sunday morning in his dorm room at Lehigh University where he was assisting the team’s strength and conditioning coach during training camp.
Andy Reid returned to the Eagles for a walkthrough Wednesday morning, saying it was ”the right thing to do” and his son would’ve wanted him to coach.
Fans who chanted ”Fire Andy!” during a lopsided loss to the New England Patriots last November showed their compassionate side.
Rookie Nick Foles threw two long TD passes to help the Eagles overcome a 13-0 third-quarter deficit.
Ben Roethlisberger was sharp in his only series for the Steelers. He led the offense on a 16-play scoring drive in the first game under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Michael Vick’s results weren’t quite so good.
Vick escaped injury after banging his left thumb on center Jason Kelce’s helmet, and took a seat on the bench after the offense went three-and-out in his only two drives.
Vick got hurt on his final throw and was wincing in pain when he came off the field. X-rays on Vick’s thumb were negative.
Reid was standing alone in front of the rest of the team along the sideline when Vick walked over and stood by his coach’s side for a moment of silence before the game. The crowd cheered Reid after the short tribute.
Later in the first quarter, a message from Reid thanking fans for their support was shown on the video board. He got a standing ovation from the crowd followed by the ”Andy, Andy, Andy” chants.
The Steelers held a memorial mass for Garrett Reid earlier in the day, and owners Dan and Art Rooney along with general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin visited with Andy Reid before the game in Philadelphia’s locker room.
The Steelers took the opening kickoff and held the ball for 9:48 before Shaun Suisham kicked a 46-yard field goal to put them up 3-0. They converted a third-and-11 and fourth-and-1, and Roethlisberger was 7 of 8 for 49 yards.
Byron Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger and kept the offense rolling against Philadelphia’s starting defense.
Leftwich tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders for a 10-0 lead. Jonathan Dwyer had a 33-yard run during the drive, but left the game with an injured shoulder.
Foles connected with Damaris Johnson on a 70-yard TD pass to get the Eagles within 13-7 in the third quarter. He fired a 44-yard TD pass to Mardy Gilyard on his next throw to put Philadelphia ahead 14-13.
But the Steelers answered on the ensuing possession. Jerrod Johnson hit Chris Rainey on a 57-yard catch-and-run TD to give Pittsburgh a 20-14 lead.
Edwards, a veteran longshot to make the roster, guided the Eagles on a 60-yard drive to put them up 21-20. He tossed a 16-yard TD pass to Jamel Hamler with 5:26 left.
The Steelers played for the first time without familiar faces Hines Ward and James Farrior, who both retired in the offseason. Three other stars – linebacker James Harrison, nose tackle Casey Hampton and running back Rashard Mendenhall – sat out with injuries. Steelers fullback David Johnson and tackle Mike Adams left with right knee injuries.
Five starters sat out with injuries for Philadelphia. They were wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, tight end Brent Celek, defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole and safety Nate Allen. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left the game with a right hamstring injury.