The start of the Kevin Kolb era lasted just a half, and whether it was by coincidence or the play of his replacement, Michael Vick, the Eagles' offense looked decidedly different Sunday after the starting quarterback was sidelined with a concussion.
The result probably would have been the same had Kolb finished his first start as the Eagles' new man under center: a loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field.
But when Vick failed to run for a first down on a late fourth-down effort, thwarting a comeback, and the Eagles fell, 27-20, it was hard not to imagine there being some talk of a quarterback controversy.
"I feel like if I had been out there for four quarters maybe we would have had a chance to win the game," Vick said. "But it's all hindsight now."
Eagles coach Andy Reid, for the record, said Kolb would start Sunday at the Detroit Lions if he was healthy. That's a big if considering how prevalent and heavily monitored concussions have become in the NFL.
"I'm going to take responsibility for this," Reid said of Kolb's first-half performance. "There were a few different things going on there. It wasn't just the quarterback or the offensive line."
Kolb wasn't the only Eagles player to suffer a concussion. Linebacker Stewart Bradley ran into teammate Ernie Sims' thigh and wobbled around the field before he collapsed. He and Kolb returned for a series, but the Eagles' medical staff decided at the half to end their days.
Both concussions occurred in the second quarter, but they weren't even the worst injuries for a team that entered the regular season completely healthy. Fullback Leonard Weaver suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and is likely done for the season. Just as crushing was the torn biceps that center Jamaal Jackson also endured during the fatal second quarter.
Jackson had battled back to start less than nine months after surgery on the ACL he tore in the second-to-last game of last season. But his return appears to have been for naught. Mike McGlynn, who played center for most of the preseason, jumped in for Jackson.
Kolb could miss at least one game. That's usually the bare minimum for a concussion nowadays. Whenever he comes back, his offensive teammates said, they have confidence in the 26-year-old, who was handed the job in April after the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb.
"It was unfortunate for him to go down like that with whatever it was," wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "It was tough - the rhythm all week practicing with Kolb and Vick coming in. It just throws you off a little bit."
Of 22 first-half plays, Vick was on the field for six. He ran four times for 20 yards and was once called for lining up improperly when he split wide with Kolb still under center on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage.
Kolb completed 5 of 10 passes for 24 yards and was nearly picked off three times. He banged his head when Packers linebacker Clay Matthews dragged him down and pounced on him from behind.
After the game, Kolb, who was not made available for interviews by the team, nodded solemnly when a reporter asked if he was OK.
"I feel bad for the guy," receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "He was more excited than anybody to go out there and play. Nobody wants to compare him to McNabb, but he wants to come out and prove that he's the guy."
Vick took Kolb's place on the postgame podium. Even though the Eagles had come up short, he said he felt like his old scrambling self - pre-incarceration.
"I feel like I'm 25 or 26 again even though that's not the case," Vick said. "I'm not naive to the fact that I am 30. . . . I'm excited, and I'm happy. I'm upset that we lost."
He completed 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Maclin in the fourth quarter to pull the Eagles to 27-17. After the defense held, he marched the offense to the Green Bay 5. But on third and goal he threw an ill-advised incomplete pass to Jackson in the back of the end zone when he should have run.
He did plenty of running, finishing with 103 yards on 11 carries. It was the 10th 100-yard rushing game of his career and pushed him past 4,000 career yards, making him only the third quarterback to accomplish the feat. (Randall Cunningham and Steve Young were the others.)
But when the Eagles got the ball back with 4 minutes, 13 seconds to go, trailing by a touchdown, Vick couldn't even get a pass off and took two sacks. Still, the Eagles faced fourth and 1 on the Packers' 42 with two minutes left.
Vick took the snap from the shotgun and ran straight ahead, but Matthews beat tight end Brent Celek inside and stormed past running back LeSean McCoy to stop the quarterback well short of the first down.
"We thought it was the right thing to do," Reid said of the play call. "I can't sit here and tell you now that it wasn't right, because that was the plan we had, and we felt strong about it. It didn't work."
The Eagles open the season 0-1 for the first time since 2007, and Reid is 5-7 in season openers.