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News » Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2008-12-19

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2008-12-19

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2008-12-19
Since his infamous benching four weeks ago, Donovan McNabb has been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the National Football League.

He's led the Eagles to three straight wins that have put them back in a playoff hunt they appeared to be out of following their ugly 36-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on November 23.

In those three victories, McNabb has completed 69.2 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdown passes and just one interception. But if you expect the five-time Pro Bowler to say the benching at halftime of the Ravens loss was the best thing that ever happened to him, well, forget it.

McNabb was playing awful prior to the benching, and dragging down his team with him. He completed just 52 percent of his passes in a five-game span. A player who always has prided himself on his ability to protect the football, McNabb turned it over seven times in six quarters before coach Andy Reid finally sat him down and replaced him with second-year man Kevin Kolb in the second half of the Ravens game.

Even though he was re-inserted as the team's starter by Reid less than 24 hours later, McNabb was bitter over his benching. He said it wasn't necessary and that he was made a scapegoat for the team's struggles.

"We're all playing well together," McNabb said as the 8-5-1 Eagles prepared for Sunday's important Week 16 battle against the Washington Redskins. "But for me to be used as the guy to motivate other guys, I really don't think that was needed. But I guess we all have kind of seen what happened and learned from it and moved on."

The fact of the matter is, Reid didn't bench McNabb to motivate the rest of the team. He benched him because he wasn't playing very well and Reid, who was seeing his team's playoff hopes quickly disappear, felt he had to do something, anything, kick-start his offense.

McNabb can say the benching had no effect on him, but he has been a different quarterback in the past three games, and the Eagles have been a different offense.

"It tells you about the kid, what a great person he is and what a great football player he is," said Reid. "Right now, he's playing as well as he's ever played. I think it's a tribute to him and the guys around him. I think that they've all stepped their game up a little bit."

With no margin for error in the final two weeks of the season, Reid needs McNabb to continue playing at a high level. To earn a wild card playoff berth, the Eagles need to win both of their remaining games, against the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, and hope that either Tampa Bay or Atlanta, who both have 9-5 records, loses one of their two remaining games.

One thing Reid did to help McNabb after the Baltimore loss was trim his receiving cast. The Eagles had been rotating six different wide receivers in a variety of different personnel groups. McNabb admitted it was tough to get into a rhythm with so many different faces in the huddle every play.

Now, the Eagles mainly go with just four wideouts - starters DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis, slot man Jason Avant and Hank Baskett. Greg Lewis plays a limited number of snaps.

In the Eagles' wins over Arizona and Cleveland, 38 of McNabb's 52 completions went to his wide receivers.

SERIES HISTORY: 147th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead the series, 76-65-5. The Redskins defeated the Eagles earlier this season in Philadelphia, 23-17. The Redskins controlled the ball for the last seven minutes of that game.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 19, 2008

Brian Westbrook Name: Brian Westbrook
Position: RB
Age: 28
Experience: 7 years
College: Villanova
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