Paul Domowitch | Curtis' breakout comes to pass

Posted: September 24, 2007

REMEMBER THE hair that Andy Reid said his offense was off?

Well, judging from yesterday's 56-point, 536-yard explosion against the Detroit Lions, they seem to have located it.

According to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the biggest problem with the Eagles' offense in their season-opening losses to Green Bay and Washington wasn't quarterback Donovan McNabb or his receivers.

It was the offensive line.

"It starts with the offensive line," he said. "It starts with them and ends with them. They allow us to go. Both in the passing and running game. If they're doing an excellent job, it frees everybody else up to be able to play and execute.

"They executed very well today and it allowed Donovan to play at a high level and gave the receivers a little bit extra time."

A passing game that was so out of sync against the Packers and Redskins played nothing but beautiful music in yesterday's 35-point win. With his line giving him plenty of time to throw, McNabb passed for four touchdowns, including three to wide receiver Kevin Curtis, and averaged an impressive 14.7 yards per attempt.

After catching just six passes for 81 yards in the first two games, Curtis took a pretty good beating from the radio talk-show scholars, who quickly determined that the Mormon kid from Utah couldn't carry Donté Stallworth's jock.

But he silenced them yesterday with his 11-catch, 221-yard performance. Curtis, like Mornhinweg, pointed to the offensive line as the main reason for the night-and-day difference in the passing game.

"It all starts up front," he said. "They did a tremendous job. They gave us time [to get open]. We definitely had some room out there to run routes in that secondary. We were able to exploit that because of the way the line blocked up front for Donovan."

McNabb completed eight of nine passes for 159 yards in the first quarter. Six of those completions and 132 of those yards belonged to Curtis. Before the game was even 19 minutes old, Curtis had eight catches for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

"He did a great job," said McNabb, who established career-bests in completion percentage (.808) and passer rating (158.3). "In this offense, it could be Kevin Curtis today and Reggie [Brown, who had two catches for 23 yards] tomorrow and then Hank Baskett the next day. We'll continue to spread the ball around. But when you get in a situation like that when the guy's hot like that versus a defender, you continue to stay with him."

Curtis scored his first touchdown with 3 minutes, 4 seconds left in the first quarter when he fooled Lions cornerback Stanley Wilson with a double-move and caught a perfect 68-yard in-stride strike from McNabb to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead.

Caught a 12-yard scoring pass from McNabb with 12:45 left in the second quarter, then took advantage of a busted coverage by Wilson to haul in a 43-yard score a minute later.

On the last one, Curtis lined up wide left in a three-wide receiver formation. Wilson was covering him, but abruptly ran toward the middle of the field to pick up another receiver, leaving Curtis wide open on the outside for an easy score.

"There were some things there we thought we could get," Mornhinweg said. "But in some games, you never know. But Kevin did an excellent job on some specific plays. We got a little explosiveness back today. And you get that when you execute.

Curtis was happy to have a big game against the Lions after dropping a big pass from McNabb late in last week's loss to the Redskins.

"I was disappointed in myself last week," he said. "I had a chance to help the team win a game and I didn't hold on to the ball. I was glad I could make a positive contribution today."

Thumbs down

* To the Eagles, who didn't flash a single Phillies update on any of their scoreboards during the game. Would it kill them to get down off their high horse and acknowledge that they're not the only pro sports franchise in town?

* To the Eagles, who didn't flash a single Phillies update on any of their scoreboards during the game. Would it kill them to get down off their high horse and acknowledge that they're not the only pro sports franchise in town?

* To the zebras for not calling a roughing-the-passer penalty on Lions defensive end Dewayne White's late hit on McNabb early in the second quarter just after he threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Curtis.

From the lip

"Donovan sure played well. We all knew he would play well. We just didn't know if it would be Game 1 or 3 or 5 or 8 or even longer. He's such a great player. But those ACLs a very difficult to get back to full strength. He looked like it today, though." - Offensive coordinator Mary Mornhinweg, on QB Donovan McNabb. *

"Donovan sure played well. We all knew he would play well. We just didn't know if it would be Game 1 or 3 or 5 or 8 or even longer. He's such a great player. But those ACLs a very difficult to get back to full strength. He looked like it today, though." - Offensive coordinator Mary Mornhinweg, on QB Donovan McNabb. *

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