Philadelphia Eagles News

McNabb Shoulders Blame; Looks Ahead To 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Donovan McNabb never got into a rhythm. The Eagles offense never got on a roll.

And just like that the 2009 Eagles season has come to a close.

McNabb was 19-of-37 for 230 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the season-ending 34-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs.

"It's a tough game. I put everything on my shoulder for the loss," McNabb said. "We had an outstanding year this year. Just about two or three weeks ago, everybody was happy with the guys we had at each position. In less than two weeks, now we're talking about who's going to be here and who's not going to be here. I don't look at that.

"I look at me having an opportunity to work with these guys in the off-season and having a full season to work together and hopefully that will change the outcome of what happened tonight."

For the second straight week, the Eagles offense got off to a slow start after a long Cowboys opening drive. On third-and-8, McNabb's pass over the middle was nearly intercepted by Bradie James. It was a pass intended for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on a crossing route much like the one McNabb missed him on last week.

And after enduring the same result as last week, the Eagles go into the off-season having lost just six games - but three of them to the Dallas Cowboys.

"Our main focus isn't just going to be on Dallas," McNabb said of the team's off-season goals. "We still have to focus on the Giants and the Redskins and whoever else is on the schedule. Would we like to play this game again? Yes, but we can't. You don't want to go through a whole off-season just focusing on Dallas."

On the Eagles' second drive, facing a second-and-10, McNabb had time to throw the football. However, he held onto the ball and the pass-rush forced him into an intentional grounding penalty.

The Eagles only had the ball for 3:16 of the opening quarter.

The Eagles got on the board in the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Michael Vick to Maclin. That tied the game. But the Cowboys scored on a Tashard Choice touchdown on the next drive to retake the lead.

Unable to convert a third-and-4 on the ensuing drive - McNabb's pass to Maclin was short of the first down - the game began to spiral out of control. Vick fumbled a handoff to Leonard Weaver and Weaver fumbled after catching a short pass over the middle and the Eagles went into the locker room down 27-7.

"We just didn't make plays when the plays were there - mistakes, miscues, missed opportunities for these two weeks. And that's what it came down to," McNabb said.

As the Eagles tried to mount a comeback in the third quarter, McNabb and the Eagles offense started to move the ball down the field by converting a couple of key third downs. On a third-and-11, McNabb hit Maclin on a comeback route along the sideline for the first down. On a third-and-1, McNabb hit tight end Alex Smith over the middle to move the chains. But when a third-and-7 was needed to keep the drive alive, McNabb didn't see a wide-open Jason Avant and instead was sacked by Anthony Spencer.

There was a glimmer of hope that came, believe it or not, after a McNabb interception. McNabb's pass intended for Brown was underthrown and picked off by cornerback Mike Jenkins. DeSean Jackson made a hustle play and was able to knock the ball out on the interception return and Brown recovered it. But four plays later, facing fourth-and-3 at the Dallas 40-yard line, safety Ken Hamlin came untouched on a blitz and forced McNabb to hurry a pass to Maclin, which couldn't be handled and was incomplete.

Just two weeks ago, McNabb had put the finishing touches on a six-game win streak. It marked a stretch that saw McNabb playing some of the most consistent football of his career.

And just like that, a year where the Eagles finished the regular season 11-5 and the offense set the franchise record for points scored is over.

"When you get later in your career, these moments and these opportunities you savor," McNabb said. "You just never know when it's your last. I don't mean if you're here or not. You're counting down your days of playing football. This is 11 years for me, going on 12. How many years after this, we'll never know.

"When you have a talented team like we have and you do the things that you do this year, you just don't see it ending."

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 3:21 a.m., January 10

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