Brees helps Saints breeze past Eagles, 48-22
the end zone for a touchdown over Philadelphia Eagles safety
Quintin Mikell in the third quarter of an NFL football game,
Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009, in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA — Without Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles tried everything they could on offense. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints stuck to what they do best.
Brees tossed three more touchdown passes Sunday, helping the Saints beat Philadelphia 48-22.
Brees had six TD passes last week as the Saints (2-0) routed Detroit 45-27. He picked up where he left off, picking apart Philadelphia's secondary and completing 25 of 34 passes for 311 yards and one interception.
"If you look at our skill group, each game no guy ever knows who's day it's gonna be," Brees said. "Each guy knows it's their job to open things up for everyone else."
Making his first NFL start for an injured McNabb, Kevin Kolb threw for 391 yards and two TDs, including a 71-yard scoring pass to DeSean Jackson. Kolb also threw three interceptions, though, including one returned 97 yards for a TD by Darren Sharper in the final minute.
"I've got to cut those turnovers out," Kolb said. "I know better than that. I will do it."
McNabb sat out with a cracked rib. With the five-time Pro Bowl QB in street clothes, the Eagles (1-1) showed off their creativity on offense.
Coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg used several variations of the wildcat formation with three different players taking snaps. Both tackles were split wide one time with only three linemen blocking. Kolb threw an incomplete pass on a reverse flea flicker and Brian Westbrook had an incompletion.
It could get even wackier next week when Michael Vick is expected to play his first regular-season game since Dec. 31, 2006.
The Saints took advantage of a fumble recovery and interception to turn a four-point halftime lead into a 31-13 advantage in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter.
Ellis Hobbs fumbled the second-half kickoff and Chris Reis recovered at the Eagles 22. Two plays later, Brees tossed an 11-yard TD pass to fullback Heath Evans, who broke a couple tackles, tiptoed along the sideline and dove over the orange pylon.
On Philadelphia's next possession, Scott Shanle stepped in front of Kolb's ill-advised pass to a well-covered Jackson for an easy pick. Mike Bell ran in from the 7 to make it 31-13.
Jason Avant made a diving catch on fourth-and-goal from the 3 to cut it to 34-20 late in the third. But Reggie Bush, filling in for an injured Bell, had a 19-yard TD run to put the Saints ahead 41-20.
New Orleans needed just two plays to go 54 yards after getting the ball with 1:20 left in the first half. Bush turned a short pass into a 29-yard gain, and Brees fired a 25-yard strike to Marques Colston to give the Saints a 17-10 lead.
Kolb drove Philadelphia 63 yards in 43 seconds, setting up David Akers' 32-yard field goal before halftime.
The Saints racked up 421 yards against a defense that dominated the Carolina Panthers in a 38-10 win last week.
"You like starting 2-0, but it doesn't promise you anything," Saints coach Sean Payton said.
McNabb got hurt when he was hit hard in the end zone after scoring on a 3-yard TD run last week against Carolina. He didn't practice this week and was ruled out 90 minutes before kickoff.
Jeff Garcia, who led the Eagles to a division title and a playoff win in 2006 after McNabb injured his knee, rejoined the team Monday as insurance. Vick wasn't eligible to play because he was suspended for the first two regular-season games as the final league penalty for his role in running a dogfighting ring.
"It looked like they were clicking on all cylinders at times, but Donovan is one of the top quarterbacks in the league," Sharper said. "He would've made the game look a little different."
The Eagles allowed a TD on the opening drive for the second straight week when Brees connected with Colston on a 15-yard pass.
Kolb hit Jackson in stride with a perfectly thrown deep pass down the middle and the speedy wideout outraced the defenders down the sideline to tie the game.
Philadelphia ran nine plays out of the wildcat formation. Jackson, Westbrook and Jeremy Maclin took snaps. The Eagles gained 44 yards on seven runs and had two incomplete passes.
"I understand why they did it, but it never allowed (Kolb) to get in rhythm," Garcia said. "It's a tough game to call. You have to have some trust and I know the coaches trust him. Just go out and play football the way we're used to playing."
NOTES: There were a few anti-Vick protesters outside the stadium. A woman held a sign that read: "Do pitbulls bleed green?" A young boy carried one that said: "My dog hates Vick." ... Bell left with a knee sprain. He said he could've returned. ... Saints WR Lance Moore left with a hamstring injury. ... Westbrook sprained his right ankle. ... McNabb has missed 25 games, including playoffs, due to injuries during his 11 seasons in the NFL. The Eagles are 14-11 in those contests.