Eagles give Giants healthy dose of McNabb

Donovan McNabb outruns Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora for a 14-yard gain.
Donovan McNabb outruns Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora for a 14-yard gain.
Posted: November 02, 2009

After two fairly unimpressive showings against Oakland (a loss) and Washington (a win), quarterback Donovan McNabb snapped out of it yesterday in that 40-17 drubbing of the New York Giants. Saying earlier in the week that he planned "to go back to basics," McNabb did just that as he employed his array of offensive weapons to their fullest potential.

It was a sharp effort.

And one that left the 32-year-old quarterback saying with a grin, "I still feel young."

Young, and he could have added "healthy again." While he said he is still not back 100 percent from the rib injury suffered in the season opener against Carolina that sidelined him for two games, McNabb continued to iron out what coach Andy Reid called some of the "wrinkles" in his game with his performance yesterday.

"I thought he did a nice job in his preparation - he always does a good job every week in his preparation," Reid said. "He is working through a couple wrinkles there, and you forget he's coming off a rib injury that most guys are out 4 to 6 weeks . . . Pretty tough guy, and he's worked his way back through it."

With running back Brian Westbrook sidelined with a concussion, McNabb set out yesterday to "share the wealth," which is to say he hooked up on big plays via both his running attack and passing corps. Fullback Leonard Weaver and running back LeSean McCoy scored on running plays of 41 yards and 66 yards respectively, and McNabb connected on three touchdown strikes: a 17-yard pass to tight end Brent Celek; a 54-yard pass to DeSean Jackson; and a 23-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin. Criticized with some frequency for his lack of accuracy, McNabb completed 17 of 23 attempts.

He chuckled and said, "I guess I was accurate today."

But McNabb stressed the value of a balanced attack: The Eagles ran the ball 24 times, and passed it 23 times.

"Anytime as a quarterback you don't have to throw for 330 yards to win the game, it takes pressure off you," McNabb said. "And it also puts pressure on defenses. Because if you're just dropping back and throwing the ball on every play, teams just sit back in the zone and know that you're going to pass . . . When you're applying pressure to the defense by running the ball, it opens up things downfield."

Someone asked McNabb if scoring 40 points was an indication of just how potent the offense can be.

McNabb said, "The sky is the limit."

"I think we are just touching the surface," McNabb said. "But it comes back to being consistent. When you have games like this, you have to have a better game next week. And that is something we are definitely trying to strive for."

McNabb added that he has become increasingly comfortable with Maclin and Jackson.

"I am," the quarterback said of Maclin. "We worked a little bit in the offseason. The first game, he didn't play much while I was in there, while I was healthy. But from [the] Tampa [game] on, we've been able to work together - and DeSean as well - just working on our timing."

Jackson tied a club record by catching his sixth TD pass of 50 yards or more in a season. He equaled a record set by Tim Brown. It happened just before the end of the first half, when Jackson eluded the safety and found himself wide open downfield for a 54-yard scoring catch.

"Going back in film study, we recognized how their safeties played and being able to create a big play," McNabb said. "Whenever you get in that situation, you want to be able to take a shot."

Jackson agreed that McNabb was in a groove yesterday. "Man, he was out there flying around, throwing the ball, pumped up," Jackson said. "It was great seeing him like that. As long as he keeps playing like that, he is unstoppable . . . He does a great job leading us and we follow him. He has been in the league, what, 11 years? Any time you can look him in the eye and know he is ready to go."

Celek said whatever problems the Eagles have encountered have had less to do with McNabb than the 10 players who line up with him. "I think Donovan has been good the past few weeks," Celek said. "I think as an offense we just clicked a little bit better today."

So, with the rib injury almost behind him, is McNabb back in stride?

He said he is "getting there, yes."

"Each week we have stayed on it," he said. "Anytime bone bruises or breaks happen, you know for it to fully heal it's going to take a lot of time. So you just have to continue to drink milk, and take magnesium, iron and zinc and everything else to try to get the bones to fully heal before I get back to 100 percent."

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