Whether it’s by design or not, the Philadelphia Eagles look boring on offense. It was enough for Michael Vick and Co. to win a preseason game.
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Vick led three scoring drives, the first-team defense pitched a shutout and the Eagles beat the Cleveland Browns 24-14 on a rain-soaked Thursday night.
Vick wasn’t particularly sharp. He took a lot of hits and had to escape trouble quite a bit. Still, he managed to complete 10 of 18 passes for 98 yards. He ran for 24 yards and a touchdown.
"We’re trying to do a lot of different things," Vick said. "This is the time to do it."
Most of Vick’s completions were underneath passes, and DeSean Jackson didn’t have any receptions.
"You have to take what the defense gives you," Vick said. "If they play 30 yards off, you throw underneath. We’re not trying to go deep."
Against defending AFC champion Pittsburgh last week, Vick threw three interceptions in the first half and the starting defense allowed touchdowns on the first two drives. That was hardly an effort worthy of a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
"After last week, I still felt confidence in myself and my teammates and our ability to succeed," Vick said. "I know what I did, trying to force things. It’s about moving forward, and getting better each week."
The Browns helped the Eagles get back on track.
Colt McCoy and the rest of Cleveland’s starting offense hardly looked like the crew that scored five TDs on nine possessions in the first two preseason games. The Browns punted four times, missed a field goal and McCoy threw an interception on six first-half drives.
"I didn’t play particularly well," McCoy said. "Unfortunate things happened and when you play from behind, you force so much."
Both coaches had planned to play their starters into the third quarter, but the backups came in after a heavy downpour during halftime. By that time, Lincoln Financial Field was more than half empty.
Vince Young, one of Philadelphia’s numerous high-profile free-agent signings, took over for Vick and guided the Eagles to a touchdown. He was 9 of 12 for 58 yards.
Young’s 10-yard TD run put the Eagles up 24-0 in the third quarter.
Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson played his first game since suffering a seizure in practice earlier this month and later being diagnosed with a brain condition. He sacked McCoy for a 10-yard loss in the first quarter.
"I was a little bit nervous at first," Patterson said. "I had to get that feeling back. But, it felt pretty good and I felt pretty happy to get a hit on him."
The Browns have several notable ties to Philadelphia. General manager Tom Heckert held that same position for the Eagles from 2006-09. Head coach Pat Shurmur was an assistant in Philadelphia for 10 seasons. Senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes was the Eagles head coach from 1995-98.
The similarities end there.
The Eagles have won six division titles and made nine playoff appearances in the last 12 years. The Browns have had just two winning seasons in that span and are 14-34 over the last three seasons.
A special-teams blunder led to Philadelphia’s first score. Punt returner Jordan Norwood was run into by teammate Sheldon Brown, a longtime starting cornerback for the Eagles, while calling a fair catch and was hit by the ball. Snapper Jon Dorenbos recovered it at the Browns 13. On second down, Ronnie Brown ran in from the 13 behind a strong block by center Jason Kelce to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
"The freak play on the punt, that happens very infrequently and that’s unfortunate," Shurmur said.
Vick’s 8-yard TD run put Philadelphia ahead 17-0 in the second quarter. A 14-yard pass to Jason Avant — the first completion to a wide receiver — on third-and-4 set up the score. Earlier in that drive, Vick got crushed by D’Qwell Jackson and threw an interception. But the play was nullified because Jackson was called for roughing the passer.
An interception by Asante Samuel led to Alex Henery’s 37-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Things didn’t start well for Vick and the offense. He was sacked by Phil Taylor and fumbled on the Eagles’ third play. Jayme Mitchell recovered at Philadelphia’s 18. But the Browns didn’t go anywhere and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie blocked Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal try.
Seneca Wallace tossed an 18-yard TD pass to Alex Smith early in the fourth quarter for Cleveland. Wallace finished 3 of 6 for 53 yards and one TD. McCoy was 9 of 18 for 89 yards and one pick.
Jarrett Brown threw a 4-yard TD pass to Chris Matthews with 1:57 left to get the Browns within 24-14.
Notes: Browns RB Montario Hardesty, a second-round draft pick in 2010 who missed last season after tearing his left ACL, had 15 yards rushing on five carries in his first action since the injury. … RB Peyton Hillis, who had 1,177 yards rushing for Cleveland, had three carries for 18 yards. … Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy caught seven passes for 69 yards. .. Eagles coach Andy Reid got an unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing the challenge flag on Cleveland’s touchdown.