Challenged by his benching, old McNabb returns Print
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Friday, 28 November 2008 11:18
NFL Headline News

 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Donovan McNabb heard boos the day he was drafted and silenced critics throughout his career. He overcame three major injuries and returned to perform at a high level each time.
But this was a new challenge, one that cast doubt on his future with the Philadelphia Eagles and questioned whether he still had the skills to be a top quarterback in the NFL.
McNabb had never in his life been benched until coach Andy Reid pulled him at halftime of a 36-7 loss at Baltimore last Sunday. With a national audience watching, McNabb showed he's got plenty left.
A motivated McNabb completed 27 of 39 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-20 victory over Arizona on Thursday night that kept the Eagles' slim playoff hopes alive. McNabb's passer rating of 121.7 was his highest since Week 1 and he completed more than half his passes for the first time in four games.
nnati game, he just showed again what makes him such a great quarterback. Under the toughest conditions, he always seems to step up and he did that in a big way.''
After throwing five interceptions over his last seven quarters and playing poorly for about a month, McNabb finally was his old self. He scrambled, threw precision passes and looked like the guy who went to five straight Pro Bowls from 2000-04.
If the Eagles are planning to go another direction next season, McNabb could make the decision-makers think twice with a couple more games like this one.
``I kind of went back to the basics of just watching the film and understanding if the opportunity was there to go downfield, take it, and if not, hit the check down, buy time maybe with your legs if you have to,'' McNabb said. ``I think that was important. Early on in the season, I went with the old aggressive approach of giving the guys opportunities, putting the ball up there and letting them compete for it and just have them work. I still kept that mentality, but tried to be smart with the ball and just tried to be me out there.''
McNabb has always been at his best when he moves around the pocket, creates plays with his legs and opens it up for his receivers. Injuries have slowed McNabb over the years, but he still has some escapability. He ran four times for 24 yards against the Cardinals, including a 13-yard gain.
eid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called more running plays than they did all year. The Eagles ran the ball a season-high 33 times, excluding McNabb's four rushes and three kneel-downs by Kevin Kolb at the end.
A banged-up Brian Westbrook didn't mind the increased workload, running for 110 yards and tying a team-record with four TDs. The renewed commitment to the run helped the passing attack because it forced Arizona's defense to respect both instead of focusing on stopping McNabb.
``I like efficient balance,'' Reid said. ``I'm not going to sit there and bang my head against the wall by running the football every snap if I'm not gaining a yard. At the same time, if we're not throwing the ball well or we're not getting the protection we need and we are running the football OK, then we'll run the football more. That's what's so great about this offense. When one thing isn't working, you go to the other. You just have to make sure one thing is working.''
The Eagles (6-5-1) get extra time to prepare for an important game at the New York Giants (10-1) next Sunday. They'll be in a must-win mode the rest of the season and have to win their final four games to have a chance at making the playoffs.

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