By Chris McPherson, eagles.com
Michael Vick and Nick Foles each led the Eagles on impressive scoring drives in the first half of Friday’s preseason opener against the New England Patriots, although in much different fashion. Vick made the highlight-reel throws as he finished the game 4-of-5 for 94 yards with a touchdown and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Foles bounced back from a suspect fumble with an efficient 5-of-6 for 43 yards and a 96.5 quarterback rating.
“I’m trying to make a statement every day. … Every day is a competition,” Vick said. “It’s me competing with myself trying to get better each and every day, trying to just enjoy the game, the respect and the appreciation that I have for the game of football now is uncanny and I appreciate that more than anything. That’s going to drive me to continue to do my best in every possible situation. I know it’s not always going to be right, but at least I can work hard to put myself in a position where it can be.”
Vick started and led the Eagles on a five-play, 77-yard scoring drive on the team’s first offensive drive to answer a strong opening salvo from the Patriots. After two runs by Chris Polk, who started at running back, Vick took the ball out of the shotgun on third-and-6 and with a clean pocket delivered a beautifully thrown ball down the middle to wide receiver Jason Avant for a gain of 22 yards. After another run by Polk, Vick got the ball out of the shotgun, faked the handoff to Polk and delivered a 47-yard touchdown pass to a streaking DeSean Jackson down the right sideline. Jackson had inside leverage on cornerback Aqib Talib and Vick’s delivery was perfect.
The Patriots gave Vick a look that he saw during the three days of joint practices. On the bus ride to the game, Vick and Jackson discussed what would happen if they got that look in the game and it was there on the very first series.
“It just goes to show when you’re on the same page with your teammates and guys who put the time and effort into the game like (Jackson) do, good things can happen,” Vick said.
On Vick’s second and final drive of the night, he garnered another first down on a play-action rollout to his right where he then found wide receiver Riley Cooper for a 19-yard gain.
Foles entered the game on the Eagles’ third offensive drive and went to pass out of the shotgun on his second snap. However, the protection that was there for Vick wasn’t there for Foles as defensive lineman Tommy Kelly wrapped up the second-year quarterback as he threw the ball. It fell incomplete, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick challenged and the call was overturned and ruled a fumble.
In the second quarter, Foles got his second crack at running the offense and led the Eagles on a 10-play, 80-yard drive which ended with an 8-yard touchdown run up the middle by Bryce Brown. Foles didn’t have the time to look down the field, but carved up the Patriots with a lot of short, quick passes over the middle and in the flat. Vick is known as the more athletic quarterback, but it was Foles who had the 11-yard scramble after eluding pressure in the pocket. On the only third down of the drive, Foles stood tall in the pocket and timed a well-placed ball to Avant on a out route for 8 yards and the first down. Brown scored on the next play.
“Fumbling the ball is never a good thing, but the ability to bounce back, I thought the mindset of our guys never changed. Our defense did a great job they didn’t get any points off of it. We were able to go out there and march right down the field,” Foles said. “Bryce, the line did a great job of giving him the seam to get the ball in the end zone. It’s always a great feeling when something happens, adversity happens in the game, to be able to come back from it and score a touchdown, that’s always a really good thing.”
The battle for the starting quarterback job will continue as Foles will work with the first-team offense Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field against Carolina.
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