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News » Westbrook, McNabb lead holiday rout


Westbrook, McNabb lead holiday rout


Westbrook, McNabb lead holiday rout
All it means for now is that the last-place team in the NFC East would be the best in the NFC West.


It's up to the Eagles to make it mean something more.

After three winless, mind-numbing weeks that left their season on life support, the Eagles returned to Lincoln Financial Field last night and pinned a 48-20 loss on the Arizona Cardinals .

The Eagles, 6-5-1 overall, finished 4-0 against the woeful NFC West, a division that is almost certainly going to be won by the 7-5 Cardinals.

Although the Eagles remained at the bottom of the NFC East, they also kept their slim playoff hopes alive and have nine days to prepare for the division-leading New York Giants at the Meadowlands.

Donovan McNabb, benched four days earlier at halftime of an ugly loss at Baltimore, rebounded with perhaps his best games of the season, completing 27 of 39 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns. His 121.7 passer rating was just slightly better than the 13.2 rating he had four days earlier against the Ravens.

Kevin Kolb replaced McNabb again, but this time it was only to finish off the rout.

"He played well," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He came out very determined and he relaxed. I thought the offensive line protected him well and I think his receivers caught the Football tonight."

It really looked like the pretty good old days when the Eagles were winning division titles and at least advancing to the NFC championship game.

In addition to the huge contribution from McNabb, banged-up running back Brian Westbrook regained the form that earned him a Pro Bowl appearance last season, carrying 22 times for 110 yards and catching three passes for 20 yards. He scored four touchdowns.

Westbrook became the first player to rush for 100 yards, run for two touchdowns and catch two touchdown passes in the same game since Lydell Mitchell did it for the Baltimore Colts against Buffalo on Oct. 12, 1975.

"We needed this game," Westbrook said. "It was a little vindication for my offensive line. We did a great job. My fullback [played well]. The wide receivers went downfield and made some some plays, made some blocks. Those guys have been dogged; we've been dogged all week long. Now we did what we needed to do to handle business."

The Eagles' defense also did its part to turn the game into rout, coming up with two interceptions in the first half and a pivotal, game-clinching fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. Veteran safety Brian Dawkins forced the fourth-quarter fumble, then later added his first interception of the season.

After the offense all but disappeared the previous two weeks against the Bengals and Ravens, the Eagles were in desperate need of a good start to keep the disgruntled crowd at the Linc on their side.

Five straight completions by McNabb and four strong runs by Westbrook allowed the Eagles to go 70 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown on the game's first possession. McNabb finished the drive with a 5-yard shovel pass to Westbrook for a touchdown.

Going against the NFL's second-rated passing offense, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was hopeful that his secondary could make some game-changing plays.

"To me, the difference between being a good defense and getting to that next level is getting the turnovers and scoring on defense and getting great field position for our offense," Johnson said. "That's the level I'd like to get us to. I think if we do that, we're going to win some more games."

The defense did exactly that in the opening quarter. Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley tipped a pass from Kurt Warner and it landed in the hands of cornerback Joselio Hanson, who was starting in place of the injured Asante Samuel. Hanson returned his first career interception 13 yards to the Arizona 41-yard line and the Eagles' offense turned the turnover into seven more points with Westbrook covering all 41 yards on four running plays.

The rout was on.

By halftime, it was 24-7, McNabb was 15 for 19 and Westbrook was averaging 7.6 yards per carry. There was no way anybody could have seen this coming.

The Cardinals did make things briefly interesting when they closed the Eagles' lead to 34-20 early in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Warner to Larry Fitzgerald, and then quickly got the ball back.

But on the Cardinals' first-down play, Dawkins forced a fumble after Anquan Boldin caught a pass from Warner and it was recovered by Akeem Jordan at the Cardinals' 19.

McNabb found rookie DeSean Jackson for a touchdown five plays later and the Eagles' lead was back to 21.

Exactly what all this will mean a month from now remains to be seen. All it meant last night was that the Eagles are better than any team in the NFC West and they still have a slim chance of making the playoffs.

"We need this game to be our springboard," Westbrook said. "We can't lose any more. We are at that point where we have to man up. We have the team that can do it. Hopefully, it puts us right on to what we need to do."

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 28, 2008

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