PHILADELPHIA - 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, last 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.
"We put everything together, and we're playing some pretty good ball right now," said safety Brian Dawkins, who set a team record by playing his 181st game with the Eagles. "We are a very, very confident group, and we're looking forward to this next game."
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.
"Our guys tried, but I don't think we have enough ammunition to match up with them," Crennel said. "We fought in there defensively. We gave up some yards and got some turnovers. We were ineffective running the ball."
Jason Avant had five receptions for 101 yards - his first career 100-yard game. McNabb finished 26-for-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 road loss to the Ravens.
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.
"I don't go back to the benching because I personally don't agree with the benching," McNabb said. "I tried not to let it affect me. I don't [think] I have to prove anything. In my 10-year career, my body of work speaks for itself."
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 have been bigger if it hadn't been for two interceptions in the end zone.
Rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson threw the first one after taking a direct snap at the 7-yard line. 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.
"I made two mistakes that cost us pretty good," Dorsey said. "I can't put the defense in that spot."
Since his benching, McNabb has played like the quarterback 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 touchdowns and one interception in the past three games.
"He's playing confident, he's being aggressive with the ball and he's managing the game very well," Reid said.