Published January 14, 2015
Overwhelmed by a positive reaction, Michael Vick tried too hard to please the fans.
Playing his first NFL game since his release from prison, the Eagles quarterback got a standing ovation in a half-empty stadium, avoided any ugly protests and completed four passes for 19 yards in Philadelphia's 33-32 preseason win over Jacksonville on Thursday night.
"It was unbelievable the way I was embraced and the warm welcome I received," Vick said. "It actually made me screw up one of my reads. I wanted to please the crowd and I actually made a bad play."
Though his minutes were limited, Vick showcased his versatility. He played quarterback, ran the wildcat formation, even lined up at wide receiver and completed a pass right-handed.
Philadelphia won on David Akers' 34-yard field goal in the final minute, but it was Vick's return that overshadowed a sloppy effort by an Eagles team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
It was Vick and only Vick who captured fans' attention — whether he was on the field, on the sideline or sitting on the bench.
"It looked like he did a couple of good things," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.
Reid didn't wait long to use Vick. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback jogged onto the field for the second play from scrimmage and got a hearty welcome from the notoriously tough Philly fans.
"I was proud of everybody. It was nice to see," Reid said.
So much for all those protesters and anti-Vick factions. Some fans even chanted "We want Vick!" after he left the game.
Vick was on the field for six plays — all in the opening 18 minutes — and completed all four of his passes, ran for 1 yard and lined up in the slot for one play.
"I just want to help this football team win, whatever I have to do," Vick said.
Vick acknowledged he's still working on his fitness, saying he was at about 70 percent.
"Once I get myself into tiptop shape, the sky's the limit," he said. "When I was younger I did it all. I can do it all now. Down the road, I'll be back at the quarterback position full time. As of right now, I have to do what I can to win."
Vick hadn't played in an NFL game since Dec. 31, 2006, with the Atlanta Falcons. He was released from federal custody July 20 after serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence for his role in running a dogfighting ring. He signed a one-year, $1.6 million contract with the Eagles, who hold a $5.2 million option for a second season.
It was a long day for Vick. He traveled to Virginia early Thursday, where a federal judge approved his six-year plan to repay creditors $20 million and emerge from bankruptcy, and then hustled out of court to return to Philadelphia for the game.
"It was mentally draining," Vick said.
Though he showed little emotion at first, Vick loosened up as the game wore on.
"I think it's good for him," Donovan McNabb said, "I thought for him to get out there, get some plays and get his feet under him."
With Vick, the Eagles managed 3 points. Without him, they moved the ball far more efficiently, and McNabb made it clear he would've rather waited until the offense was in a rhythm before Vick debuted.
"It's important if you show different looks, make sure it's the right time," he said.
McNabb completed 21 of 36 passes for 244 yards and one touchdown, although he also threw an interception and his fumble on a backward pass was returned 92 yards for a score by Brian Iwuh.
Jaguars QB David Garrard was 8 for 14 for 93 yards and one interception while leading Jacksonville on one touchdown drive. Backup Todd Bouman also was 8 for 14 for 59 yards and a TD.
Josh Scobee kicked a pair of 49-yard field goals for the Jaguars.
Vick completed a 4-yard shovel pass to McCoy on his first play, ran for 1 yard on his second play and was a decoy as a wideout on his third. With McNabb standing on the sideline, Vick then completed a 13-yard pass to Hank Baskett to the Jaguars 11.
Akers kicked a 31-yard field goal a few plays later.
Kevin Kolb, playing his first game of the preseason after missing the first two with a knee injury, rallied the Eagles in the fourth quarter. He was 10 for 18 for 102 yards and one TD.
The game finally ended after the Jaguars lateraled about a dozen times on the last play.
Rams 24, Bengals 21
At Cincinnati, Kyle Boller completed 14 of 20 passes for 96 yards and threw a 3-yard scoring pass in the first quarter to Samkon Gado, who also scored on a 16-yard run in the quarter.
With quarterback Carson Palmer still sidelined with a left ankle sprain, J.T. O'Sullivan was sacked three times, lost a fumble and had two passes batted away at the line for Cincinnati. He was 7 of 13 for 94 yards.
Quan Cosby, an undrafted receiver from Texas, returned the Rams' first punt 49 yards for a touchdown.
Dolphins 10, Buccaneers 6
At Tampa, Fla., Byron Leftwich outperformed Luke McCown to likely create the separation Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris sought to make a decision in the competition at quarterback.
Chad Pennington produced a field goal just before halftime, then led a long touchdown drive in the third quarter for the Dolphins. Mike Nugent kicked two field goals for Tampa Bay.
Leftwich completed 9 of 17 passes for 100 yards in just over a quarter, working four possessions, while McCown misfired on his first four passing attempts and finished 5 of 11 for 38 yards. He also was sacked twice while not producing any points.