Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (23) intercepts the ball intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin (80) in the second quarter of their NFL season-opener Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Eagles slipped by the Browns, 17-16.
Weeden debuts with four picks
Brandon Weeden ducked for cover before the Eagles even rushed him.
A giant American flag sacked him first.
Weeden threw four interceptions in a rough NFL debut for the rookie quarterback, and Cleveland’s defense couldn’t stop Michael Vick on a final touchdown drive in the fourth quarter as Philadelphia rallied for a 17-16 win on Sunday, handing the Browns their 13th loss in 14 season openers since 1999.
Vick’s 4-yard TD pass to tight end Clay Harbor with 1:18 left dashed the hopes of the Browns, who opened the year with low expectations and a roster with 15 rookies. But for nearly 59 minutes, Cleveland had a Super Bowl contender in major trouble before Vick rescued his teammates from an embarrassing loss.
“It stings,” Weeden said. “It’s going to sting for a few days, but I’m not going to let it get to me.”
Weeden’s day started on a comical note as he got trapped under a 100-yard-long flag being unfurled across the field for the national anthem. As he was warming up, the colossal U.S. flag was carried out, and before he knew what had happened, Weeden found himself scrambling on the ground.
“I was expecting to get a little warning,” Weeden said. “I was playing catch. I always stand on the 35 or 40-yard line. Next thing I know there’s about a 100-yard flag over the top of me. I sat on my hands and knees and kind of waited — me and one of the equipment managers. I looked at him and said, ‘This (stinks).’ ”
The rest of his day didn’t go much better.
Weeden finished 12 of 35 for 118 yards, had the four picks and forced several throws. He was never able to get into a rhythm and was victimized by at least a few drops.
“I take a lot of pride in playing better than that,” Weeden said. “Our defense gave us every chance to win and offensively, myself included, took away from that. I’m down right now.”
Trailing 16-10, Vick marched the Eagles 91 yards for the go-ahead score on his career-high 56th pass. Before that, the superstar played poorly and showed major rustiness after getting just 12 snaps during the exhibition season because of injuries.
But when it mattered most, Vick came through, and the Eagles, who hurt themselves with five turnovers and 12 penalties, prevailed.
“I wasn’t going to disappoint my coaches and I wasn’t going to disappoint my teammates,” Vick said. “Whatever it took, I was going to get it done.”
Vick went 29 of 56 for 317 yards and threw two TDs, but the second came after a stroke of luck.
One play before his TD pass to Harbor, Vick underthrew Jeremy Maclin and was nearly intercepted by Browns rookie linebacker L.J. Fort, who let the ball and game slip through his hands.
“He threw it right to me,” said Fort, who picked Vick off in the first half. “I should have made that play, definitely.”
The Browns had one last chance, but Weeden’s pass over the middle for Mohamed Massaquoi was intercepted by Kurt Coleman with 1:05 remaining.