- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb blew it. Instead of throwing the ball away, McNabb's last-minute interception set up the game-winning field goal in the Washington Redskins 17-14 victory over the Eagles on Oct. 8.
The Redskins (7-4) don't expect another gift when they meet the Eagles (8-4) for the NFC East lead on Sunday at FedEx Field. Philadelphia is 5-1 since Washington escaped Veterans Stadium with only the second win in Philadelphia in coach Norv Turner's seven seasons. With virtually no running game, Donovan suddenly is becoming the next Randall Cunningham.
The second-year quarterback is elusive; in fact he's the Eagles leading rusher with 433 yards and four touchdowns. McNabb also has a good arm to form a rare double threat that often has frustrated the Redskins defense in past years. Jam McNabb inside and he runs outside. Wait for McNabb outside and he runs up the middle.
"No one stops him," Turner said. "You try to contain him. You keep your ends wide and they run inside. You try to squeeze them a little bit and they run outside. The biggest thing is covering so you don't give up a long pass and tackling in the open field so when he does scramble it's a 6-8 yard run and not a 25-yard run. It changes the way you have to rush."
But scrambling doesn't always convert into winning. McNabb learned to beat defenses with his arm more than legs. That's why the Redskins designed a dual game plan to keep McNabb off balance. McNabb nearly beat the Redskins in the first meeting as he forced the secondary to chase him instead of staying with receivers. McNabb threw touchdown passes of 30 and 8 yards for a 14-7 fourth-quarter lead on Oct. 8.
"He's a scrambler with a good arm," safety Mark Carrier said, "and when you play someone like that you would try to keep people in front of you. You want to make sure you don't get sucked in and move up when you think the play has broken down."
But McNabb's maturity makes defending him even more difficult. He doesn't get discouraged and that lends itself to comebacks. The second overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft suddenly matured during consecutive overtime victories over Dallas and Pittsburgh earlier this month. Against the Steelers, he rallied his team from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. And McNabb's resiliency hasn't gone unnoticed.
"That Pittsburgh game, he rallied everyone around to get the win and showed the composure and maturity," defensive end Marco Coleman said.
Said Carrier: "He's just starting to get comfortable. He doesn't run when he has to. He doesn't go for the home run every time. He dumps the ball off."
In the lockerroom following the victory over the Eagles on Oct. 8, Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, who intercepted that fourth-quarter pass, said he didn't expect McNabb to make the same mistake again. McNabb's stats 247 of 432 for 2,401 yards, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 73.9 rating aren't eye popping, but he's no longer a novice trying to force plays.
"No. no, no. He won't do that again," Carrier said.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said McNabb now realizes when to throw the ball away.
"[The interception] was an aggressive move on his part," Reid said. "It's something he can learn from. There's a time when you have to really fight to get the ball out of bounds and live to play the next play."

Notes Running back Stephen Davis (fractured forearm), cornerback Darrell Green (torn calf), tight end James Jenkins (sprained shoulder) and guard Keith Sims (sore heel) didn't practice yesterday. Davis has improved, but is still expected to be limited against Philadelphia. He may practice today. Green status appears doubtful and Turner will make a game-time decision. Jenkins and Sims will play. Jenkins received a cortisone shot for a strained rotator cuff.
Defensive end Bruce Smith, fullback Larry Centers, center Mark Fischer, safety Matt Stevens, cornerback Champ Bailey and defensive end Kenard Lang returned to practice after missing Wednesday's workout. For the second straight day, quarterback Brad Johnson threw during drills.

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