McNabb saves best material for Sunday

September 27, 2008 9:52:48 PM PDT
As if the Chicago Bears didn't absorb enough blows last week, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb decided to deliver a few.Brian Urlacher?

"He can't grow any more hair," McNabb said.

And Tommie Harris?

"He shaves his head with a butter knife and he eats fatty foods," McNabb added.

OK, his performance wasn't quite up to the standard he set with those Campbell's Soup commercials, so anyone who wants to see his best material will have to tune in Sunday night. He wasn't about to bait the Chicago Bears even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did to their advantage last week.

"That's something that's old school, where you're trying to bait people into doing different things," he said. "We just play football and have fun doing it."

While McNabb is looking like his old Pro Bowl self, the Bears are reeling after back-to-back losses to Carolina and Tampa Bay in which they blew big leads. A 14-point advantage dissolved into a 20-17 loss at Carolina two weeks ago, and the misery continued in the home opener against Tampa Bay.

Up 10 with about 6 minutes left, they lost 27-24 in overtime after Charles Tillman got baited into a disputed unnecessary roughness penalty that kept alive the winning field-goal drive.

The Bears had just stopped Tampa Bay on a third down deep in Bucs territory when Tillman raced over to the pile. He got caught taking a swing at Michael Clayton, resulting in the penalty even though the Bears' Adewale Ogunleye took shots from Jeremy Trueblood at the bottom of the mass of bodies.

So the drive stayed alive and the Bears (1-2) wound up with another head-shaking loss that raised questions about their ability to close out games.

"We're thinking ahead," Ogunleye said. "We're not really focusing on the game."

Well, here's something that will grab their attention.

The Eagles (2-1) are coming off a 15-6 win over Pittsburgh in which they sacked Ben Roethlisberger eight times and registered nine in all, forced a safety and got three turnovers. Their defense ranks fourth and is allowing a league-low 2.4 yards per carry, not a good sign for Chicago's Matt Forte. And they might not have to worry about Pro Bowl kick returner Devin Hester, who sat out last week with a rib injury.

The Bears' defense could be in for a difficult night even though the Eagles' offense is aching.

Running back Brian Westbrook has a strained right ankle and could miss the game. Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews and tight end L.J. Smith are nursing back problems and backup running back Tony Hunt is recuperating from a concussion.

McNabb isn't a picture of health, either, after bruising his chest last week, but is expected to play. So this still figures to be a difficult night for the Bears.

A year ago, the quarterback was rumored to be on his way out of Philadelphia. Harris even joked about the Bears acquiring him. Now, McNabb's future with the Eagles seems secure.

A product of Chicago's Mount Carmel High, he is fifth in the league with 838 yards and has five touchdowns and one interception after spending most of last season working his way back into form following major knee surgery.

While McNabb shrugged it off, saying "I've had a lot of great starts," coach Andy Reid notices a difference now that his quarterback is healthy.

"He didn't spend the offseason rehabbing," Reid said. "He came to camp ready to go. He didn't have to answer a lot of questions on how he feels. Mentally and physically, he's in a great place."

Ogunleye sees the McNabb of old and probably "the best quarterback we'll see the rest of the year."

"He's definitely looking like the MVP form," Ogunleye said. "You just watch the film and you see how comfortable he is out there. He's not running to scramble anymore. He's trying to get the ball out and he's getting it out quick."

If Westbrook is out, McNabb is ready to get it out often.

"Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm going to go for 70, 75," McNabb said in jest.

Throwing that often usually results in a loss, but it worked for the Buccaneers when Brian Griese launched 67 passes against the Bears. Chicago has been daring opponents to go to the air, with linebackers Lance Briggs and Urlacher walking up to the line of scrimmage to fill in gaps.

While shutting down the run, they allowed Griese to pass for 407 yards and did not sack him. And in the end, they took another loss.

"I think everybody in that locker room believes we're a good football team," safety Mike Brown said. "We need to get some things cleaned up. I think very easily we could be 3-0."


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