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Vick debuts with Eagles in victory over Jaguars

Michael Vick, right, tires to scramble past Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey.
Michael Vick, right, tires to scramble past Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey.
Michael Perez, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — All eyes were on Michael Vick — for all of six plays.

Playing his first NFL game since his release from prison, the Eagles quarterback got a standing ovation, avoided any ugly protests and completed four passes for 19 yards.

"It's been a long journey for me," Vick said. "I just want to do it right this time around."

Though his minutes were limited Thursday night, Vick was ready to take on any assignment. He played quarterback, ran the wildcat formation, even lined up at wide receiver and completed a pass right-handed.

Philadelphia even won the game, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-32 on David Akers' 34-yard field goal in the final minute. Vick's return overshadowed a somewhat 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.

"Everything he was asked to do, he did it well," Donovan McNabb said.

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid didn't wait long to use Vick. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback jogged onto the field for the second play from scrimmage, lining up as a wide receiver, and got a hearty welcome from the notoriously tough Philly fans.

"When I was running out onto the field I was listening to see what the reaction was going to be," Vick said. "I was very pleased. I really didn't expect that reaction, but I was very thankful."

So much for all those protesters and anti-Vick factions. He entered to a standing ovation from the crowd in a half-empty stadium. Some chanted "We want Vick!" after he left the game.

He was on the field for six plays — all in the opening 18 minutes — and completed all four of his passes for 19 yards, 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. "I just want to be able to make plays and say that I contributed. ... I want to sit back and learn as much as I can and polish my skills as a quarterback."

Vick acknowledged he's still working on his fitness, saying he was at about 70 percent.

"Once I get myself into tip-top 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," 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. 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.

After missing a few plays, Garrard returned and tossed a 3-yard pass to Nate Hughes, who fumbled at the 1 after a hard hit by Asante Samuel. Torry Holt picked up the ball and stepped into the end zone for a touchdown, giving Jacksonville a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. Hughes sustained a concussion on the play and didn't return.

The Eagles finally got going once they went to a traditional offense without Vick. Following an interception by Samuel, McNabb drove Philadelphia 57 yards to the Jaguars 1. But rookie LeSean McCoy dropped McNabb's backward pass, Iwuh picked it up and ran it back for a 14-3 lead.

McNabb and the rest of the starters came out for the second half and put up 14 points. McCoy ran in from the 4 to cut it to 17-13. McNabb later tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Marcus Mailei.

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. He ran for 1 yard on his second play and was a decoy as a wideout on his third play.

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.