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

Washington's offense held to 105 yards in first half

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

LANDOVER - If the Washington Redskins view themselves as a potential NFC East champion 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 scored 23 points in the first half and gained 334 yards in the first three quarters to thump the Redskins, 37-7, before 84,982 at FedEx Field.

By comparison, Washington - after gaining 442 yards of total offense in a 31-23 win against the Arizona Cardinals last week - could muster only 164 yards of offense after three quarters against the Eagles.

"We're not going to be shell-shocked," Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. "Sometimes it helps to lose. You realize that you're not as good as you think you are."

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 and 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.

Matthews' status for Sunday's game at the San Francisco 49ers is uncertain.

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 three touchdowns in a 27-24 loss to the Tennessee Titans, completed 24 of 36 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns after three quarters.

"We tried to attack with the pass, and that opened up some lanes to run," McNabb said. "We spread the ball out and came out and established the tempo. We hit them with some big passes and got everyone involved."

He also carried the ball four times for 21 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 champs, 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 offsides 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 for a 14-0 advantage.

Washington's only score arrived at the 11:52 mark of the second quarter when Jacquez Green hauled in the return 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 six 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 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 strike to give the Eagles a 30-7 advantage.

A 47-yard touchdown sprint by running back Dorsey Levens and a 22-yard field goal by Akers completed the scoring.

By winning, the Eagles kept alive an unusual streak during which it has 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 about 10 minutes after local police officers used a pepper spray to control an altercation in the crowd. The spray momentarily irritated the eyes and throats of several Philadelphia players before the game resumed with 6:28 to play.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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