SEATTLE -- No Patrick Kerney. No Lofa Tatupu.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb had to be licking his chops. He should have had a field day against Seattle's defense. Well, it was a little tougher than Eagles fans would have liked.
McNabb started slow, but rallied to complete 28 of 43 passes for a monster 349 yards and a pair touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 26-7 win over the Seahawks on Sunday at Qwest Field for the team's third straight win.
"In this game, you're going to have highs and lows," McNabb said. "Fortunately, the last two weeks, we had lows early and were able to pick up and take off from there."
Seattle's 27th-ranked defense was without two of its biggest playmakers. Kerney entered the game as the team leader in sacks with 5.0 this season, but was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Tatupu, meanwhile, had a career-day last season against the Eagles with three interceptions (McNabb did not play in that game) but on this day he was missing in action because of a groin injury.
Even without those two playmakers, McNabb was unable to get on track early.
But in the second quarter, McNabb caught fire.
After completing only 3 of 13 passes for 57 yards and an interception in the first quarter, McNabb was a perfect 10 for 10 for 109 yards and two touchdowns to close out the first half. In fact, McNabb also connected on his first three passes of the second half as he led the Eagles on a scoring drive that ended with a 39-yard David Akers field goal to put the Eagles ahead 17-7.
Facing a third-and-6 later in the third quarter, McNabb hit tight end Brent Celek for a 39-yard gain by lofting a pass perfectly over safety Jordan Babineaux to keep the drive alive. That drive ended with another Akers field goal to pad the lead to 20-7. Celek finished with 131 yards, a franchise record for a tight end in a single game.
"We were able to settle down and kind of get things going and kind of get a beat on what they were doing in certain situations in which we had the answer for," McNabb said. "The key for us today was involving the tight ends, being able to open things on the inside for guys on the outside."
McNabb utilized the most unlikely of sources for the second touchdown strike. On a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, McNabb rolled to his right and found guard Todd Herremans for the touchdown. Needless to say, it was Herremans' first-career touchdown. According to Stats Inc., it is only the second receiving touchdown by a player listed as an offensive lineman in franchise history. The first came way, way back in 1934 when Bob Gonya caught a 4-yard touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"What you're seeing now is a team that has learned from its mistakes and is able to capitalize," McNabb said.
McNabb was key in helping erase an early second quarter deficit, in what turned out to be the only time the Eagles trailed all day. On a third-and-2 from the Seattle 32-yard line, McNabb found DeSean Jackson for a 14-yard gain. On the next play, he hooked up with Reggie Brown on the right side for a 22-yard touchdown. Brown spun past Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant and scored his first touchdown of the year.
The Eagles had four three-and-outs in the first quarter. McNabb's first seven passes were incomplete. Even when he appeared to break through late in the first quarter with a nice 44-yard completion to Celek after he sidestepped a safety blitz, McNabb threw an interception on the very next play when his pass intended for Jackson was picked off by safety Deon Grant.
But the end result is the one that matters. And McNabb has helped the Eagles win their last three games. Now, the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are on the horizon for a prime-time showdown at Lincoln Financial Field.