McNabb leads Eagles to 30-10 win over Browns
Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith (82) runs with the ball as Cleveland Browns linebackers Alex Hall (96) and Andra Davis (54) move in for the tackle during the first quarter of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Written off last month, the resurgent Philadelphia Eagles are making a strong playoff push.
Donovan McNabb threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns, Asante Samuel scored on an interception return and the Eagles beat the struggling Cleveland Browns 30-10 on Monday night for their third straight victory.
Philadelphia (8-5-1) remained a half-game behind three teams in the race for the two NFC wild-card spots. The Eagles have to win their final two games — at Washington and home against Dallas — and need Atlanta or Tampa Bay to lose once to secure a playoff berth.
The Browns (4-10) have lost four in a row. At least they finally scored a touchdown on Brandon McDonald's 24-yard interception return in the fourth quarter. The Browns, who didn't reach the end zone in the previous three games, could be looking for a new coach to replace Romeo Crennel after the season.
Jason Avant had five receptions for 101 yards — his first career 100-yard game. McNabb finished 26-of-35 before he was replaced by Kevin Kolb with more than 10 minutes remaining.
Just three weeks ago, the Eagles were in shambles. People were calling for coach Andy Reid to be fired and McNabb's days in Philadelphia seemed numbered after he was benched for the first time in his career at halftime of a 36-7 loss at Baltimore.
But the Eagles answered with impressive wins over the playoff-bound Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. They easily handled the Browns, despite squandering several opportunities.
The Eagles reached the red zone on all seven possessions with McNabb under center, but managed just two touchdowns and three field goals. They had a 17-3 lead at halftime that likely would've been bigger if it weren't for two interceptions in the end zone.
Rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson threw the first one after taking a direct snap at the 7. Sean Jones made a diving catch to pick off Jackson's underthrown pass early in the second quarter.
McDonald then intercepted McNabb's pass on the final play of the second and ran it back 98 yards to the Eagles 7. McDonald was chased by Brian Westbrook and finally caught from behind by Hank Baskett, who was the intended receiver on the play.
Cleveland's Ken Dorsey, making his second straight start for the injured Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, was intercepted twice.
Since his benching, McNabb has played like the guy who went to five Pro Bowls and led the Eagles to four consecutive NFC championship games and a Super Bowl. He has completed 72 of 104 passes for 741 yards, seven TDs and one interception in the last three games. His passer rating is 107.9 in those games.
McNabb came out firing, completing all four of his passes on the opening possession, including a 14-yard TD strike to Kevin Curtis that gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead. A 20-yard completion to Jason Avant on third-and-5 kept the drive going.
In the second, Samuel stepped in front of Dorsey's pass intended for Donte' Stallworth and raced 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-3. It appeared Samuel tossed the ball aside at the 1 just like Jackson did against the Dallas Cowboys in a Monday night game in Week 2. But Samuel quickly picked the ball up in the end zone. The Browns didn't challenge, but it wouldn't have mattered.
It was the first touchdown this season for Samuel, who signed a $57.14 million, six-year free-agent contract in March.
McNabb connected with Greg Lewis for a 10-yard TD pass that made it 30-3 in the fourth quarter.
Eagles safety Brian Dawkins set a team record by playing in his 181st game, passing wide receiver Harold Carmichael.