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Eagles Only Need Six Good Minutes to Escape Browns: A Fan's Recap

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The Philadelphia Eagles technically played 60 minutes of football against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 9. However, Eagles fans like myself didn't see them play real Eagles football for about 54 of those minutes - or perhaps we did. That would be a huge problem, since Philadelphia spent most of the afternoon turning the ball over, committing penalties and letting Cleveland hang around too long.

Yet it took only six good minutes, and two late drives to end each half, to escape with a win anyway. Other than those drives and the 17-16 final score, the Eagles didn't give out any other rewards for enduring this game.

There were some signs of life in the first half, as Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy idid move the ball - before Philadelphia kept turning it over. With 35 seconds left in the half, interceptions and penalties had doomed the Eagles to a mere 3-3 tie. But it took just two pretty throws from Vick, and two equally pretty catches by Jeremy Maclin, to give Philadelphia a 10-3 lead in the span of 18 seconds.

With that late explosion, the hope was that the Eagles would roll from there and cruise in the second half. Instead, things got much worse, as the turnovers piled up until Vick finally threw an interception for a Cleveland touchdown return. This gave the Browns a 16-10 lead early in the fourth, which looked like it would stand after Alex Henery missed a field goal on the next drive.

Vick got the ball back with over six minutes left and 91 yards to gain. For the second time, the Eagles waited until the end of a half to do any damage - and even this drive had a fourth-down conversion, a penalty or two and a near interception that would have clinched the loss. But right after Vick was spared his fifth pick, he finally threw an accurate pass to Clay Harbor for the go-ahead touchdown.

After Browns' rookie Brandon Weeden threw his own fourth interception of the day, the Eagles could finally breathe easy. While the defense had its way with Weeden and Cleveland, the Philadelphia offense racked up 456 yards, 25 first downs, eight third-down conversion and 35 minutes of ball possession - and still only really had six minutes and two drives of effective play.

It was that kind of bizarre, ugly game - which could easily turn into that kind of bizarre, ugly season. Perhaps no other opponent would have let the Eagles get away with a performance like this, and very few of their next 15 opponents will.

54 minutes of sleepwalking can beat the Browns, but not the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions over the next five weeks. That message was drilled into Philadelphia's heads for much of its time in Cleveland - so hopefully it will manage to stick.

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.

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