For the last two weeks, Eagles
quarterback Donovan McNabb has been doing something that his most
ardent critics have said he is incapable of doing--leading his team
from behind in the fourth quarter.
In their win over what some will argue is a bad Washington Redskins team, McNabb and the Eagles offense weren't always great. In fact, there were times in that game when they were downright awful, especially in the third quarter when they failed to convert on third down.
But in the end, McNabb rallied the Birds to 11 unanswered points in the game's final seven minutes--including a 12-play 90-yard drive that tied the game. McNabb completed 21-of-35 passes for 260 yards and one touchdown as the Eagles improved to 7-4 and one game behind the first-place Dallas Cowboys.
"It provides confidence, but we knew
that we could do it, it was just kinda getting it done. For us to do
it in back-to-back weeks, you want to stay away from that situation
and make sure you secure the win earlier," McNabb said during the
post game press conference.
"But, I mean, when you play two
teams like the (Chicago) Bears and Washington, you know it's going to
be a dog fight. These guys are working hard as well with the
opportunity and the guy stepping up and making big plays in the run
game and pass game, you just want to make sure you're secured down
Eagles head coach Andy Reid said he
was more impressed with McNabb's leadership in the final stretch run
of the game. He said McNabb rallied his troops and just took charge.
"I'm proud of him for stepping up
and just taking over. He was into it, not that he isn't all the time,
but during that time, he just gathered everybody up and said, 'Hey,
listen we're scoring.' He was very upbeat and positive with the guys
and very strong," Reid said.
On the final drive that led to David
Akers 32-yard game winning field goal, McNabb completed a big 35-yard
pass to rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin that put the Eagles into
Redskins territory. McNabb and Maclin hooked up again for a
six-yard pass that took Philly deeper in the red zone at the
The common demoninator in the Eagles fourth quarterbacks against Washington and last week against the Chicago Bears was how the Birds successfully mixed in the running game. On the drive to tie the game, the Eagles passed the ball six times and ran it four times including the one-yard run for a touchdown by Eldra Buckley.
"We were running the ball decently," Reid said. "We went back and looked at a couple of things formation wise that we were doing when we went through that period where we were not having success, and we made a couple of changes there. We felt like our offensive line was controlling the line of scrimmage, and I thought that was important."
It also helps that players like Maclin (five recetions, 63 yards) and veteran wide receiver Jason Avant, who caught five passes for 94 yards, are making plays in clutch situations. On the game-tying drive, Avant got the Eagles going with a pair of receptions for 66 yards--including a 46-yard yard reception that took the Birds from their own 10-yard line to the Washington 44. He caught another pass for 20 yards before leaving the game with an injury.
"I mean a guy that gets two or three
straight catches and gets flipped on his back. He's laying there and
he wants to stay in the game," McNabb said. "He goes out for a
play and he comes right back. That's just showing great effort and
the guys trust him in certain situations and I do as well."
The next big comeback act for the Eagles will be to see if they can catch the first place Dallas Cowboys, who play the New York Giants in the Meadowlands next Sunday. The Eagles will take on the Falcons in Atlanta.