McNabb, quick-starting Eagles ground Redskins in 37-7 reality

Washington's offense held to 179 total yards

September 17, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - If the Washington Redskins view themselves as potential NFC East champions this season, they found out last night just how far they have yet to go.

In a matchup billed as Washington's opportunity to prove itself as a playoff contender before a national television audience, the Philadelphia Eagles used a 23-point first half and gained 451 yards of total offense to thump the Redskins, 37-7, before 84,982 at FedEx Field.

By comparison, Washington - after compiling 442 yards in a 31-23 win against the Arizona Cardinals last week - could muster only 179 yards of offense.

"Obviously, we got clobbered," said Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, who suffered his first loss in 38 September games in his coaching career. "Philly outplayed us, they outcoached us, they did everything."

Guard Brenden Stai was more blunt in his assessment, describing the offense's play as "a comedy of errors."

"They brought a whole different package," Stai said of the Eagles' defensive schemes, which helped force two interceptions and a fumble. "I don't think a lot of the guys were prepared for it. They were all over our wide receivers, and as a line, I don't think we blocked well."

Adding injury to insult, Philadelphia made it an early night for quarterback Shane Matthews, who suffered a bruised left shoulder on his last pass of the first half. He was replaced by Danny Wuerffel in the second half.

Matthews, who earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for connecting on 28 of 40 attempts (70 percent completion) for 327 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 31-23 win against the Arizona Cardinals, found a rougher time against an Eagles pass defense that finished last season ranked No. 2 in the NFL.

Matthews completed only 10 of 22 passes for 62 yards and an interception in the first half.

The performance revived memories of Matthews' last outing against Philadelphia, which limited him to eight of 17 throws for 66 yards and two interceptions in a 33-19 second-round playoff loss when Matthews was a member of the Chicago Bears last year.

Spurrier said Matthews, if healthy, will start Sunday's game at the San Francisco 49ers.

His counterpart, Donovan McNabb continued his scintillating ways from Week 1. McNabb, who completed 50 percent of his passes (18 of 36) for 212 yards and threw three touchdowns in a 27-24 loss to the Tennessee Titans, completed 26 of 38 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns.

He also carried the ball five times for 36 yards and a score.

Before last night's game, 18 of the past 21 meetings between the NFC East rivals were decided by seven points or fewer.

But Philadelphia (1-1), the reigning NFC East champ, put the notion of a 19th such meeting to bed early by posting the first points on the board on its first series of the game.

An 8-yard scamper by McNabb finished off an 80-yard drive to give Philadelphia a 7-0 lead with 8:10 left in the first quarter.

An offside penalty on Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington on a David Akers 30-yard field-goal attempt sustained another Eagles drive that they converted when McNabb lobbed a 2-yard pass to tight end Jeff Thomason to give them a 14-0 advantage.

Washington's only score arrived at the 11:52 mark of the second quarter when Jacquez Green hauled in a punt at the Redskins' 10-yard line, went right before cutting across the field to the left sideline, and raced in untouched to register his second career return for a touchdown and cut the deficit in half.

The 90-yard return was the second longest in club history - just 6 yards shy of tying the record set by Bill Dudley against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 3, 1950.

The Eagles finished off the first half with three straight Akers field goals to complete a 23-7 half.

Any hope of a Redskins comeback evaporated on the Eagles' first possession of the second half. Hoping to catch Philadelphia napping, Washington sent Champ Bailey on a corner blitz.

But the Eagles' offensive line picked up the blitz, and McNabb hit wide receiver James Thrash - who sprinted past free safety David Terrell on a go route - for a 39-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 30-7 advantage.

A 47-yard touchdown sprint by running back Dorsey Levens completed the scoring.

Cornerback Fred Smoot said the loss should motivate the team.

"I'm glad it happened in Week 2 instead of Week 16," he said. "I'm glad it happened early to give this team a signal that we're not indestructible. We have to come in and play week in and week out."

By winning, the Eagles kept alive an unusual streak during which they have not lost back-to-back regular-season games since dropping a 33-18 setback to the New York Giants on Sept. 10, 2000, and a 6-3 decision to the Green Bay Packers the following week.

The loss prevented the Redskins from opening the season with two consecutive victories for the first time since 1991, when Joe Gibbs and Co. captured the franchise's third Super Bowl championship.

The game was delayed for eight minutes after local police officers used pepper spray to control an altercation in the crowd.

Cooling fans behind the Philadelphia bench blew the spray toward the players, halting the game. It resumed at the 6:27 mark of the fourth quarter.

The Eagles improved to 16-15 all-time on Monday Night Football and are 6-0 in prime-time contests under coach Andy Reid.

They also evened their Monday night series with the Redskins at two wins apiece.

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