Michael Vick's return to the NFL was ordinary at best.
But the moments before it happened Sunday in Philadelphia, lifted his heart and made his day.
For the record, Vick carried once for 7 yards, threw two incompletions and either handed off or was a decoy on eight other plays as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-14, in the quarterback’s first regular-season action since December 2006.
Just returning to the game he loved after serving 18-months in federal prison on a dogfighting conviction moved him.
Standing on the sideline as the national anthem played, Vick let his mind wander to his downfall over the past 33 months.
“I am thinking about everything I have been through,” Vick said after the game. “I am thinking about what it took to get back to this point. I am thinking about my grandmother, who I lost in prison and what she would think.”
The last time Vick saw his grandmother, Caletha, was on the day he surrendered to authorities and was taken to federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan. She died during his 18-month incarceration.
“I know she would have been proud of me,” Vick said, noting her memory pushes him every day to return to being a great player.
Vick spent most of the game on the sideline watching youngsters Kevin Kolb, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson lead the Eagles to a victory.
Vick could only cheer them on. His 11 plays, which included seven handoffs, resulted in a net of 30 yards.
“I think I played fairly well,” Vick said. “I made good decisions with the plays I had. I missed one ball across the middle. I think I could have hit that. I have to make sure I keep my arm warm on the sideline so when I go in there I am not cold. My focus was to be smart and not turn the ball over.”
The Miami Dolphins lost Chad Pennington to a shoulder injury, then lost when his replacement, Chad Henne, had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
St. Louis also lost its quarterback and remained winless, with Marc Bulger bruising his right shoulder and sitting out the final three quarters of the Rams’ 36-17 loss to Green Bay.
The Dolphins didn’t know the extent of the injury to Pennington, who has a history of shoulder surgeries, said he was in a “state of shock.”
“I’m truly disappointed because I know what type of work I’ve put in and what type of work our team has put in,” he said.
Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman also left that game early because of a lingering groin injury.
Frank Gore lasted only one carry in San Francisco’s loss at Minnesota before leaving with a right ankle injury. He left after rushing for 4 yards on one carry on the 49ers’ second possession of the game.
Kevin Smith couldn’t make it through Detroit’s first win since 2007. He rushed for 101 yards before leaving with an injured right shoulder, but the Lions held on to snap their 19-game losing streak.
The Chicago Bears were down to their third middle linebacker when Hunter Hillenmeyer left their victory at Seattle with a rib injury. Third-year veteran Nick Roach moved inside to replace Hillenmeyer, who became the starter after Brian Urlacher was lost for the season.
Bills starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin did not return after hurting his leg in the first half of Buffalo’s loss to New Orleans.