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Monday, November 12, 2007

Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid Get Much-Needed Win v. Redskins

McNabb, Westbrook lead Eagles over Redskins - ESPN and AP

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid soothed the feelings of a season of turmoil with an extra-long embrace after the Philadelphia defense stopped the Washington Redskins for the last time.

"There was a lot of love there," McNabb said. "A lot of love."

McNabb had faced questions all week about his future in Philadelphia. Reid is dealing with personal problems and a possible second losing season in three years. The Eagles would have essentially been buried for the season had they lost Sunday, but a 20-point fourth quarter led by McNabb and Brian Westbrook produced a cloud-lifting 33-25 victory.

Divisional Doldrums

After going 5-1 in the NFC East in 2006, it took until Week 10 for the Eagles to earn their first divisional win this season.
Week 2 20-12 loss vs. Redskins
Week 4 16-3 loss at Giants
Week 9 38-17 loss vs. Cowboys
Week 10 33-25 win at Redskins

"Controversy just hasn't hit us in one week. It's been all through the year," McNabb said. "In situations like this, it's important to have that confidence in the next guy and trust in him, whatever the situation may be. ... It was a must-win situation."

The Eagles (4-5) have been alternating wins and losses since Week 2 and remained in last place in the NFC East, but they successfully recovered from last week's 21-point loss to Dallas and can pull into the wild-card race if they get on a roll.

"We're in the position now that we need to win every game," Westbrook said.

The Redskins (5-4) looked far from playoff-worthy as they committed 11 penalties, including crucial third-down miscues, and again suffered from questionable clock management and play-calling. Coach Joe Gibbs had no timeouts left in the final crucial minutes, and a conservative call on a late third-and-goal virtually guaranteed the Eagles would have a chance to win.

"I always take that to heart myself as a coach," Gibbs said. "Why that jumped out as us today, I don't know. I'll have to take a long, hard look at it."

McNabb battled a sore shoulder throughout the second half and had to keep throwing while on the sideline to keep it warm. Still, he completed 20 of 28 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Westbrook caught two touchdown passes and ran for another score, finishing with 20 carries for 100 yards and five receptions for 83 yards.

By far the highlight was Westbrook's go-ahead touchdown with 3:16 remaining. With the Eagles trailing by five and three rushers closing in, McNabb threw a screen pass to Westbrook over the middle. Lineman Shawn Andrews instantly leveled linebacker Rocky McIntosh, one of at least four huge blocks that allowed Westbrook to scamper for a 57-yard touchdown.

"I just tried to buy time," said McNabb, who broke Ron Jaworski's franchise record for career completions. "Once he caught it, I saw a lot of green. Hats off to our offensive linemen, getting down there, our receivers blocking, our tight ends blocking."

Westbrook's touchdown followed a play-it-safe move by Gibbs. With the Redskins facing a third-and-goal at the 7 and leading 22-20, the coach essentially decided to play for the field goal with a running play to Portis rather than try for the touchdown that likely would have sealed the win. Portis was stopped well short, and Shaun Suisham's 21-yard field increased the lead to five -- keeping the Eagles in the game.

"We felt like they might be playing soft there," Gibbs said. "Felt like we could take a shot at a draw."

The screen play gave the Eagles a 26-25 lead. Westbrook added one more score with 2:18 to play, a 10-yard run the Redskins admitted they purposely allowed so they could get the ball back with a chance to tie.

"That's exactly what they did. They allowed us to score," Westbrook said. "I wish I would have known that. I would have stopped at the 1. As an offensive player, any time you have an opportunity to get into the end zone, you get into the end zone."

Jason Campbell completed 23 of 34 passes for 215 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, including the first touchdown pass to a wide receiver for the Redskins all season. Clinton Portis, who last week ended a 12-game drought without a 100-yard game, made it two in a row with 137 yards on 30 carries.

"We've got to finish games," Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin said. "We're not playing well in the second half. We've got to get it corrected if we want to win."


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