PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Donovan McNabb said a prayer before sprinting through the tunnel to the field and emerged pointing his finger at the sky while an appreciative crowd stood and cheered.
Wearing a bulky protective brace on his surgically repaired right knee, the Eagles quarterback came out firing. McNabb connected on a 27-yard pass on his first attempt in nine months and a 16-yarder on the very next one.
From the pregame ritual to the easy passes, it all seemed so familiar. McNabb was back.
A fired-up McNabb never looked rattled after taking a couple of hits and was near-flawless in his lone quarter in Philadelphia's 27-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Friday night.
``I have a long way to go, but the exciting part is just what we can do,'' McNabb said. ``I tried to get us back to the point where we were when I left. Hopefully, we can get back to that.''
The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback finished 6-for-9 for 138 yards, including a 58-yard strike to tight end Matt Schobel. He led the Eagles (1-1) to 10 points on four possessions, before giving way to backup A.J. Feeley.
In other NFL exhibition games Friday night, it was Atlanta 13, Buffalo 10; Minnesota 37, the New York Jets 20; and Tennessee 27, New England 24.
McNabb's helmet popped off when he was sacked on his final play at the end of the first quarter and he watched from the sideline with ice bags on his knees. Otherwise, it was typical McNabb, running and throwing like normal. Just no scrambling.
Not yet.
There's plenty of time for McNabb to burst out of the pocket and take off on a long run. But McNabb doesn't feel like he has to show anyone any proof that he's fully recovered from the injury.
``It wasn't a test for me at all,'' McNabb said. ``I already know I can play this game and play at a high level.''
McNabb needed to show something after he sat out Philadelphia's preseason opener at Baltimore four days earlier.
Eagles coach Andy Reid liked the early returns from his franchise player. Reid saw a confident, capable McNabb, not far off from the player who led the Eagles to four straight NFC title games.
McNabb wasted no time in showing he was back. He claimed he didn't hear the crowd's ovation when he took the field for the first time since suffering his horrific injury. The cheers from the skimpy crowd only got louder when he connected with Kevin Curtis on a 27-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. He hit Jason Avant for a 16-yard gain on the next play, and added both an 18-yarder and the 58-yard pass to Schobel on Philadelphia's second possession.
``It felt great,'' a smiling, bald McNabb said.
Now McNabb and the Eagles wait and hope there's no swelling, no reason for concern over the next few days. McNabb certainly has time to rest if his knee needs additional recovery.
The Eagles are off the next two days and don't play again until next Sunday at Pittsburgh.
``Every time the guy took a step, it was either a cheer or a gasp,'' said Panthers QB David Carr. ``That's expected. I mean, that's their guy and a lot was riding on this game.''
While McNabb shined, Jake Delhomme struggled for the Panthers (1-1) after a promising start under new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson in Carolina's preseason opener against the New York Giants.
Delhomme, coming off a subpar season, was 9-for-18 for 78 yards, got sacked three times and threw one interception that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Lito Sheppard.
Falcons 13, Bills 10
At Orchard Park, N.Y., Bills quarterback J.P. Losman was given every opportunity to produce a scoring drive, but came up empty. Atlanta's Joey Harrington wasn't much better.
The Falcons (1-1) pulled out the win when backup quarterback Chris Redman - filling in for injured third-stringer D.J. Shockley - hit George Cooper for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2:38 remaining.
The lone touchdown for Buffalo (1-1) came from third-stringer Trent Edwards, who hit Roscoe Parrish for a 10-yard pass in the third quarter.
Losman went 7-of-13 for 78 yards passing, and the Bills' starters managed three first downs despite playing the entire first half.
Harrington was 4-of-7 for 31 yards in his second preseason start and efficiently drove the Falcons 69 yards on 10 plays on their opening possession. Harrington also threw an interception.
Vikings 37, Jets 20
At East Rutherford, N.J., Chad Pennington came out throwing this time - a little too often. A week after not attempting a pass, the New York quarterback had two ill-advised throws returned for touchdowns in a loss to Minnesota.
Darren Sharper's 40-yard return came on Pennington's third pass, and Chad Greenway later brought one back 16 yards for the Vikings (1-1), who took advantage of nearly every mistake by the Jets (1-1).
Rookie defensive end Brian Robison returned a fumble for a touchdown, the Vikings' third off a turnover. Rookie running back Adrian Peterson also had a big game for Minnesota, gaining 70 yards and scoring a touchdown on eight carries.
Pennington finished 7-of-10 for 40 yards for the Jets, who were playing without star running back Thomas Jones, sidelined by a strained right calf. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets' first-round pick, was in uniform but didn't play after ending his holdout Wednesday.
Titans 27, Patriots 24
At Foxborough, Mass., Vince Young was sacked four times and was tackled just short of the goal line on his final play in Tennessee's victory over New England.
Young was benched for the Titans' exhibition opener for spending the previous night at his house instead of the team hotel. He completed five of 17 passes for 102 yards and ran four times for 9 yards. Last season's offensive Rookie of the Year played the entire first half before Kerry Collins took over.
Collins led Tennessee (1-1) back from a 17-7 halftime deficit on a 15-yard pass to Roydell Williams, John Vaughn's 31-yard field goal and Dontrell Moore's 4-yard run.
Vaughn's 22-yard field goal with 1:49 left won it.
Tom Brady went 10-for-19 for 145 yards, a 28-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and two interceptions for the Patriots (0-2). He played seven series before Matt Cassel took over late in the first half.

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