During the second half of Thursday's game against Arizona in Lincoln Financial Field, Donovan McNabb was, for the second straight week, watching the Eagles from the sidelines as Kevin Kolb engineered the offense.
But this time, McNabb was smiling.
He himself had helmed the dismantling of the Cardinals' defense, directing an impressive 48-20 win with Philadelphia's slim playoff hopes on the line. For the first time in several weeks, McNabb could deflect criticism with his play.
To him, the best way.
"Adversity always happens in (the quarterback's) position," McNabb said. "I know coming into this game, if I just continue to be myself and know what I'm seeing out there and react, good things would happen."
Kolb's arrival, with 4:15 remaining in the game, came after McNabb's brilliant showing. He finished 27-of-39 with 260 yards, four touchdowns and zero turnovers – after turning the ball over seven times in his last seven quarters. And though he had several 0-fer starts in his last few games, McNabb started this one on a roll – completing his first six passes as the offense established an early rhythm for the first time since Week 9 against Atlanta. Photo Gallery : ARI vs. PHI 11-27-08
And the Philadelphia faithful, always cognizant, seemed to sarcastically boo after McNabb's first incompletion, on his seventh throw.
It was the only time that noise would be directed at McNabb the entire game.
McNabb's plight has been a rallying point for his teammates, some of them said after the game. And whatever they did for him, it worked.
"Donovan's been our main quarterback from Day 1," said wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. "Sometimes it takes games like the ones we went through to get to where we're at now."
The reasons the Eagles were so successful this week against an almost certain playoff team were rather obvious – they simply excelled at the things they have been bad at all season.
They converted 10-of-15 third-down attempts, good for 66.7 percent, up from their 22nd-ranked season average of 37.7 percent. Moreover, on a third-and-1 conversion on their first drive, the Lincoln Financial Field fans, knowing the Eagles' struggles, applauded with a standing ovation following a 2-yard plunge by Kyle Eckel.
They scored six touchdowns in seven red-zone trips, an 85.7 percent clip. Compare that to their woeful 48.8 percentage entering the game, 23rd in the NFL.
They ran the ball more times than they threw it for the first time all season, a major contrast to the 62 percent passing ratio that's haunted them and drawn criticism.
Not just a prolific showing for the Eagles' offense, which put up 437 total yards, but a balanced one.
"The run game worked. That was the thing that was important," head coach Andy Reid said. "Anytime you can keep the mix going between the run and the pass, I think that's important and it makes the defense, obviously, have to play and honor both."
Calling on a Reid mantra, McNabb seemed to be putting himself into better positions to make plays. When given the opportunity to run, he didn't force a throw. When offered certain short yardage on a dump-off, he didn't heave a deep ball. It was methodical, yet surgical.
In doing so, he's put his team into a position to still make an improbable run at the playoffs.
Hey, after the past week, why not?
"I never get too high or too low," McNabb said. "We know there are going to be tough times and there are going to be some times that go pretty well. But it's important that me, as a quarterback, you never show that it's affecting you. …
"I don't worry about what people may say on the outside or what the joke is at that particular time about me. I just go out and play football, and today, we did that."