McNabb may have been hurt

Eagles teammate says QB was exhausted late vs. Pats

Pro Football

February 09, 2005|By Don Bostrom | Don Bostrom,THE MORNING CALL

PHILADELPHIA - When the Philadelphia Eagles needed him most, quarterback Donovan McNabb might not have been at his best during Sunday's 24-21 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

Center Hank Fraley said yesterday that McNabb was so worn down toward the end of the game that he almost vomited in the huddle.

"He was exhausted," Fraley said. "He had to run around a couple of times and scramble and he was getting hit pretty good. ... When you exhaust your body, that's how it reacts sometimes."

Several other players acknowledged that McNabb at one point was unable to finish calling a play in the team's huddle and that wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, who had brought the play in from the sideline, finished for him.

McNabb was en route to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii and could not be reached for comment.

The revelations might shed light on the Eagles' surprisingly slow pace toward the end of the game, when they trailed by 10 points but seemed to display little sense of urgency.

After the game, Eagles coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were vague when asked why the team hadn't tried to work more quickly.

"We did try to get going," Reid said. "I can't tell you details and circumstances why it didn't work as well as it should have."

Neither Reid nor Childress was available yesterday.

Mitchell thought McNabb might have been shaken up as early as the third play of the game, when he was sacked by New England's Willie McGinest.

"You definitely could see something was wrong with him, there was some kind of complications," Mitchell said. "He got blasted and his lip was bleeding."

Backup quarterback Koy Detmer said McNabb would do his best to hide any injury.

"Donovan is a tough guy," Detmer said. "He's not going to let you see what's really going on. There's no question he took a couple of shots throughout the game."

But Detmer said McNabb appeared fine during their conversations on the bench.

Eagles spokesman Derrick Boyko said yesterday that McNabb wasn't injured during the game.

Eagles fullback Josh Parry suggested that New England's relentless pressure and some savage hits took a toll on McNabb.

Eagles defensive back Rod Hood, who missed action because of leg cramps, wondered whether the high humidity and intense pressure of the game might have gotten to McNabb.

"That humidity is something different we're not used to," Hood said. "Even though it wasn't hot, the moisture in the air takes away from the muscles in your body.

"Cramps can come from players that get over-hyped, too," Hood said. "You get so wound up in the importance and the pressures of the game, it drains you."

Others dismissed the suggestion that McNabb's effectiveness had been diminished.

"Donovan was out of breath and he had started coughing," said left guard Artis Hicks, recalling the play that Mitchell ended up calling. "He was trying to talk and breathe at the same time, that's all it was. There was nothing serious. There was nothing more than that. He seemed the same guy. He was fighting until the end trying to get us a `W.' "

The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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