McNabb threw for 125 yards and one touchdown, leading the Washington Redskins to a 17-12 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in his first game against his former team.
Michael Vick was forced out in the first quarter with chest and rib injuries in his first start in front of the hometown crowd. Kevin Kolb, who was supposed to be McNabb's successor all along, replaced Vick after losing his starting job because he got hurt in Week 1.
So, the McNabb-Vick showdown turned into the McNabb-Kolb matchup everyone originally anticipated. But this one didn't live up to the hype.
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On a field where he made so many dynamic plays throughout his career, McNabb looked more like a game-manager than an elite player. A six-time Pro Bowl pick in 11 seasons with the Eagles, McNabb didn't get much of a chance to showcase his skills because Redskins coach Mike Shanahan stuck with a conservative approach and relied on the ground attack.
"You get into a throwing game specially here, in this environment with the crowd, usually you're in for a long day," Shanahan said. "So you have to establish the run."
That meant McNabb turned around and handed off - again and again. It's an unfamiliar role for McNabb, who used to throw more than any quarterback when he played for the Eagles.
Washington had 169 yards rushing, including 55 by Clinton Portis before he left with a groin injury. Ryan Torain had 70 yards rushing and one TD. McNabb threw just 19 passes, completing eight and getting intercepted once.
The only stat that matters is the win.
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"The relief I got was that this is over, that the whole hoopla and coming back to Philadelphia is over," McNabb said.
The Redskins (2-2) snapped a two-game losing skid, improving to 2-0 in the NFC East. The Eagles (2-2) are winless at home.
McNabb ran onto the field with the rest of his team during pregame introductions. When his name was announced, he got a standing ovation. McNabb patted his heart and raised his right hand up to salute the crowd. He then hugged Vick, who signed with the Eagles last year after McNabb lobbied for him.
McNabb had a love-hate relationship with Philly fans, so many wondered what type of reception he would receive. While some outside the stadium booed and carried signs that read "McChoke," it was an overwhelmingly positive response inside the Linc.
"You realize you spent 11 years here and I knew it was coming," McNabb said. "I didn't expect them to cheer the whole game. That wouldn't be right. I was happy with the way they gave me a standing ovation at the beginning. I think all of the quarterbacks got booed today."
McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl - a 24-21 loss to New England in Feb. 2005. He was traded to Washington in April, paving the way for Kolb to be the starter.
But Kolb sustained a concussion in Week 1, and Vick played so well he forced coach Andy Reid to make a flip-flop decision and keep him in. Now Vick's status is uncertain and it's unknown what Reid will do when he's healthy.
Kolb threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek to get the Eagles within 17-12 with 4:10 left. The 2-point conversion failed when Kolb's pass fell incomplete.
On Washington's next possession, McNabb scrambled 18 yards on third-and-4 to keep the drive going and allow the Redskins to run the clock down a little more. The Eagles got the ball back at their own 26 with 1:07 left and no timeouts. Kolb's first throw should've been intercepted, but it was dropped by Carlos Rogers.
Kolb then drove Philadelphia to the Redskins 32, a double-lateral after a short pass got the Eagles there. But Kolb's desperation heave into the end zone on the final play bounced out of Jason Avant's hands and was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall. Kolb finished 22 of 35 for 201 yards and one TD and one interception.
McNabb handed off five straight times before attempting his first pass, a deep one to Fred Davis. The ball was slightly behind a wide-open Davis, who let it go through his hands. On his next pass later in that drive, McNabb made a perfect throw over the middle to Chris Cooley for a 31-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Vick got hurt on a 23-yard run to the Redskins 1 that was negated by a holding penalty on Max Jean-Gilles. Vick dodged and darted through the defense, eluding several tackles along the way. He took two hard hits, getting sandwiched between Kareem Moore and former teammate Hall.
After a short completion by Kolb, David Akers kicked a 49-yard field goal to cut it to 14-3.
The Eagles also lost Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel and wide receiver Riley Cooper to concussions.
McNabb's best throw was a 57-yard completion - the ball traveled 56 yards in the air - to Anthony Armstrong on a third-and-15 in the second quarter. It set up Graham Gano's 26-yard field goal that made it 17-3.
Kolb drove the Eagles inside Washington's 1 in the final minute of the first half. After calling a timeout to set up a play on fourth down, the Eagles somehow got called for a delay of game penalty and had to settle for Akers kicking a 23-yarder to cut it to 17-6. The sellout crowd gave them an earful as they headed into the tunnel.
"We had a play called. I wasn't surprised the clock was moving, but I was surprised it was moving as quick as when it was started with the spot," Reid said.
Brandon Banks, an undrafted rookie, set up a touchdown on Washington's first possession with a 53-yard punt return on the first play of his career. Torain ran in from the 12, knocking over safety Quintin Mikell on his way into the end zone to give the Redskins a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles wasted a long drive in the third quarter when LeSean McCoy fumbled after a catch-and-run and the Redskins recovered at their own 21.
A three-time Pro Bowl pick during six seasons in Atlanta, Vick got a second chance to revive his career in Philadelphia after spending 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation. He played sparingly last year behind McNabb and Kolb, seeing most of his action in a variation of the wildcat formation.
Vick made the most of his opportunity after Kolb went down, and was the NFC offensive player of the month in September. He had 750 yards passing, six touchdowns and no interceptions, and also ran for 170 yards and one score in 10 quarters.
The last time McNabb and Vick played against each other at Lincoln Financial Field was the 2005 NFC title game. McNabb led the Eagles to a 27-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons after losing the three previous conference championship games.
Notes: Vick was 5 of 7 for 49 yards and ran three times for 17 yards. ... McCoy had 12 catches for 110 yards. He also ran for 64 yards. ... The Redskins haven't started 2-0 in the division since 1995.