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Eagles slip past Browns, 17-16

This news story was published on September 9, 2012.
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By Zach Berman, The Philadelphia Inquirer –

CLEVELAND — One week into the season, it was almost as if the offseason of solving 2011’s problems did not exist for the Eagles. The issues that infuriated Eagles fans one year ago almost cost the team Sunday’s 17-16 season-opening win over the Cleveland Browns.

The difference on Sunday is that the Eagles — and quarterback Michael Vick — found the comeback that eluded them last year. Trailing by six points with 6 minutes, 25 seconds remaining, Vick orchestrated a 16-play, 91-yard touchdown drive highlighted by a four-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor.

It was Vick’s first game-winning drive in an Eagles uniform and ensured that they begin the season 1-0.

The Browns’ attempt to respond was thwarted on the first play of their next drive, when Kurt Coleman’s second interception of the afternoon sealed the Eagles’ win.

The victory was needed, but it did not eliminate the problems that were so clear. The Eagles committed five turnovers and had 12 penalties, both catalysts for the 8-8 finish last year.

Vick threw four interceptions. It was the second four-interception performance of his career, with the other coming in 2011 against Buffalo. The Eagles coughed up a fourth-quarter lead but relied on a defense that kept Cleveland out of the end zone. The Browns’ lone touchdown was an interception returned for a score. The Eagles’ defense had four interceptions off rookie Brandon Weeden.

Even with a halftime lead, the Eagles could not add points in the third quarter. They had four drives in the quarter, two ended with interceptions, the other two were three-and-outs. Yet every time the offense took possession, there was no progress.

The Eagles escaped the first half with a 10-3 lead after Jeremy Maclin’s 18-yard touchdown reception with 23 seconds until halftime. The score came one play after Maclin hauled in a 46-yard reception from Vick, a big gain that turned around the drive and put the Eagles in position to take the lead.

But that came after a forgettable first quarter for the Eagles. Their first drive was halted when LeSean McCoy fumbled on his first carry, and the Browns responded with a 43-yard field goal for the game’s first points. The Eagles’ next drive started with a fumble that they recovered but ended with an interception.

Still, there was jubilation on the sideline at the end of the game. For all their apparent problems, the Eagles return to Philadelphia with a victory.

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