LANDOVER, Md. – After running 30 plays in his first 15 minutes of Chip Kelly football, even Michael Vick was ready for a break.
"I've never been a part of anything like it," the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback said. "When the first quarter was over, I thought we was about to go into halftime. It was unreal. The only thing I could tell myself was, 'It's going to be a long season.'"
Long season, huh? Well, not in the traditional sense. Win or lose, the Eagles were surely going to be exhaustingly entertaining in the first year under Kelly, but the tired feeling is a good one when the don't-take-a-breath offense works the way it did in Monday night's 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins.
"Sometimes, we all take ourselves too seriously," said Kelly, making his pro coaching debut after winning 87 percent of his games at the University of Oregon. "We love playing football. There's a passion with it. That's the way it should it played. I had a lot of fun tonight. I think our guys had a lot of fun."
Fun? Don't talk to the Redskins about fun. This was supposed to be the celebratory welcome back party for Robert Griffin III eight months after his major knee surgery. Instead, RG3 threw a career-high two interceptions and spent a lot of time on the sideline watching his defense wear down.
As the teams exchanged pleasantries at the final whistle, Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker said to Eagles center Jason Kelce said: "Next time we play you guys, you need to slow it down a bit."
Good luck with that.
Here are five no-huddle-required reasons the Eagles were able to start the season with an upset of the defending NFC East champs:
THE REDSKINS COULDN'T KEEP UP: Line up and go. Line up and go. The Eagles' 53 plays were the second-most in a first half by an NFL team since 1991. The first-half stats resembled something from an Oregon opener against a creampuff, not a game between NFC East rivals. Total yards: 322-75. First downs: 21-3. Time of possession: 20:20-9:40. "They were having a hard time lining up," running back LeSean McCoy said. "You can definitely know when the defense is tired, as when they're going down, you're hiking the ball. So, that tempo really worked. I don't think anybody has seen it that fast."
OPTIONS APLENTY: The fastest offense in the world isn't going to work if the talent isn't there. Vick completed 15 of 25 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran nine times for 56 yards and a score. McCoy piled up 184 yards on 31 carries, including a 34-yard TD. DeSean Jackson had seven catches for 104 yards and a TD. The Eagles' 263 yards rushing was their most since 2002. "How would you rate your performance?" Vick playfully asked Jackson in the news conference room. "I saw you running down the field a couple times with your hands up. You always think you're open." Answered Jackson: "I got mad a couple times. You know Michael Vick didn't throw me the ball enough times." All in good fun, of course, but with a hint of truth: There's only one ball to go around.
RUSTY RG3: After all the buildup, that was some letdown. Maybe he was rusty because he didn't play in the preseason. Maybe there's still some uncertainly about his knee. Either way, Griffin didn't run the ball much, and 169 of his 329 yards passing came in the fourth quarter after the Eagles had taken control. "I'm responsible for the way I play," Griffin said. "I didn't play very well in the first half. That's just the way it is. You move on from it. I'm not going to sit here and say I was rusty. I've got to be accountable."
MY BAD: While the Eagles weren't exactly flawless, the Redskins at times looked like a group getting together for their first rec-league practice. Their first seven plays: lost fumble by Alfred Morris, 3-yard loss by Morris, penalty for illegal shift, screen to Morris that got back some yards, interception thrown by Griffin into triple coverage, pass dropped by fullback Darrel Young, safety that occurred when Morris bobbled a pitch in the end zone. For the game, Washington committed 10 penalties for 75 yards. "We couldn't run the ball, we couldn't catch the ball, we couldn't get our plays in. ... It wasn't Robert. It was the whole team," receiver Pierre Garcon said.
VICK'S STILL GOT GAME: The type of unadulterated worship directed toward Griffin during the pregame is the sort of thing that used to be showered on Vick. Now Vick is 33 and had to win a starting job in training camp, but he still can put on a show. No one expected him to be perfect in his first game under a new regime, so it can be forgiven that he missed three open receivers in the first quarter. "Mike is a great quarterback," tight end Brent Celek said. "And the things that he does back there, not a lot of guys can do." People have been saying that for many years, and it's time to say it again.
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