While Donovan McNabb rolled around on the Lincoln Financial Field turf in obvious pain during the second quarter Sunday against Atlanta, it was – it would turn out, coincidentally – as if the Eagles' season was flashing before the eyes of the 69,144 in attendance.
On a third down incompletion, McNabb had been sandwiched between two Falcon defenders and crumpled heavily to the turf. And the questions began to arise. Seriously, with all the Eagles had gone through in terms of injuries and inconsistencies, this was going to happen? There's little doubt visions of Kevin Kolb were beginning to sprout.
But that, too, is when the coincidence began to reveal itself. McNabb scuffled to his knees, and then to his feet. For all the visions the fans were having, the problem was that McNabb had temporarily lost his.
Despite all the "Oh no, his knee," "Ouch, his chest," and "He hurt his head," McNabb had painfully, but simply, been poked in the eye. And, surprisingly enough, a very erratic performance prior to the injury turned to an efficient management of a 27-14 victory after it.
"I have to watch the film, but all I remember is getting the ball out and trying to avoid the hit and got poked in the eye. From then on, everything kind of got blurred and then my vision came back as I took a knee," McNabb said. "The first thing I did was reach and see if it was bleeding. Other than that, I tried to get my vision back and then tried and go out and make some plays." ATL vs. PHI 10-26-08
McNabb wasn't statistically amazing, but orderly enough to make a difference. He completed 19 of his 34 passes for 253 yards, and he had a vintage day on the ground, as well – 25 yards and a touchdown on a quarterback draw.
But early in the game, mostly before the eye injury, McNabb struggled. He missed open receivers, threw into double coverage and overthrew some badly.
"In the first half, I felt like I was kind of forcing the issue a little bit and trying to wait for the guys to break free and then I was just getting on top of balls instead of just being relaxed," McNabb said. "I thought later on in the first half I began to get comfortable and kind of just placed balls in different spots."
Certainly, it was a relief to see McNabb perform with the weapons he finally had at his disposal. Brian Westbrook was fantastic, using 208 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to fuel the entire offense, while Kevin Curtis caught three balls in a much-anticipated return from sports hernia surgery.
In the second half, it was McNabb who helped the Eagles benefit from their comrades' homecoming.
"Sometimes, we are not able to make every play. The thing about this team is that we are going to keep on trying and not give up," wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "We have a lot of players on this team that are capable of doing a lot of good things. We stuck with it, didn't panic and stayed within ourselves."
So the Eagles capitalized in producing their first winning streak of the season, making head coach Andy Reid 10-0 post-bye-week and keeping pace with the remainder of the NFC East for another Sunday.
"We can control our destiny, maybe with a couple losses from other teams," McNabb said. "The only thing we can focus on is what we are doing out here, and hopefully we can continue to feed off each win and elevate ourselves in the standings in the NFC East and put ourselves in the position to achieve the goal we all have set out for."