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McNabb's Eagles provide offensive fireworks

9/17/2002

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- On an odd night -- when the field was
cleared because of pepper spray -- Steve Spurrier's offense didn't
score a single point.

The coach's Monday night NFL debut turned into his worst loss in
more than six years as both of his quarterbacks sputtered in the
Washington Redskins' 37-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The bad night for the Redskins turned bizarre in the fourth
quarter when the smell of pepper spray used by police to break up a
fight the stands spread to the Eagles bench. At least one player
vomited, but the spray soon dissipated and play resumed after an
eight-minute delay.

The Eagles beat Spurrier at his own game. They went long on
their first play and stayed aggressive, keeping the Redskins'
defense off guard with a mixture of formations.

"We got clobbered,'' Spurrier said. "We never could go
anywhere. They beat us every which way.''

Donovan McNabb threw two touchdown passes and ran for another,
completing 26 of 38 passes for 292 yards. He also ran for 36 yards
on five carries.

It was a change of pace from last week, when the Eagles built a
24-10 lead and blew it by going conservative in the second half in
a 27-24 loss to Tennessee.

"We started fast and we finished strong, which is something we
had to do after last week's extravaganza,'' Philadelphia coach Andy
Reid said.

The Redskins' best field position to start a drive was their own
29, and they never got beyond Philadelphia's 35. Washington's only
score came on Jacquez Green's 90-yard punt return in the second
quarter.

It was Spurrier's worst defeat as a coach since Florida's 62-24
loss to Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2, 1996. He had only
one other loss by 30 or more points with the Gators: 45-3 at
Tennessee in 1990.

"I've had my butt kicked before,'' Spurrier said, "so we're
not going to be shell-shocked. Sometimes it helps to lose.''

It didn't matter who the quarterback was. Danny Wuerffel played
the second half after Shane Matthews had his non-throwing shoulder
bruised late in the first half. Matthews was 10-of-22 for 62 yards
and an interception, while Wuerffel was 6-of-9 for 57 yards with
one interception and four sacks.

Spurrier said Matthews will start next week's game at San
Francisco, but his quarterbacks' performances were so weak that he
hinted he might rush first-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey along.

"We may practice Patrick up a little bit,'' Spurrier said.
"We'll see how close he is to being ready.''

The result creates a four-way tie in the NFC East. All four
teams are 1-1.

Spurrier showed a range of emotions, from wiping away tears
following a moment of silence for Johnny Unitas to lots of
face-rubbing and head-scratching and even duck-like lip-pursing as
the offense went awry. For the record, he wasn't wearing his
trademark visor because it was a night game.

The Redskins opened in the no-huddle offense for the second
consecutive week, but every play in the opening drive was either a
run or a short pass to a running back. Matthews was completely out
of sync, and the offense didn't cross midfield until the final
drive of the half.

Spurrier went for it on fourth down twice, once on fourth-and-1
from his own 38. Stephen Davis ran for 10 yards on the play, but
Matthews was intercepted by Troy Vincent three plays later.

The sure sign that things weren't going right: Spurrier gave
cornerback Champ Bailey his first offensive touch since 2000 on a
pitch reverse, but Bailey fumbled after a hit by Carlos Emmons. The
Eagles converted the turnover into a field goal.

The Eagles, meanwhile, were an offensive thing of beauty on the
first drive. James Thrash got cornerback Fred Smoot completely lost
on the first play and caught a pass for a 33-yard gain. Todd
Pinkston caught a 26-yarder over Darrell Green, and McNabb capped
the six-play, 80-yard drive by scrambling outside of Pro Bowl
linebackers LaVar Arrington, Jeremiah Trotter and Jessie Armstead
for eight yards into the end zone.

On the second drive, McNabb rolled out and suckered Armstead
into leaving Duce Staley alone for a 22-yard reception. The
Redskins eventually forced the Eagles to kick a field goal, but
Arrington jumped offside on the attempt to give the Eagles a
first-and-goal that McNabb converted into a 2-yard TD pass to tight
end Jeff Thomason.

McNabb didn't stop at halftime. He hit Thrash with a 39-yard TD
pass to Thrash early in the third quarter to make it 30-7.

Dorsey Levens had a 47-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

The pepper spray delay came with 6:38 remaining. The Eagles
players scattered from their bench onto the field. The players and
fans in the stands on that side of the stadium were holding their
noses with concerned looks on their faces in a time when people are
so worried about security.

After a brief conference between referee Bob McElwee and a
uniformed officer, play resumed after a delay of eight minutes.

"Whenever you see your teammates coming out on the field and
pretty much grabbing their throats or covering their nose, it's a
pretty tough situation,'' McNabb said. "I've never been a part of
anything like that.''

Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said a Prince George's County
police officer intervened in a fight and that a "small amount of
pepper spray'' was used to move the fans back. The cooling fans on
the Philadelphia bench helped spread the spray quickly. No arrests
were made.

Game notes
Hugh Douglas got his 41st sack as a member of the Eagles,
moving him into fourth place on team's career list. ... Eagles
running back Brian Westbrook left with bruised ribs in the second
half. ... Green's punt return was the second longest in Redskins
history. Bill Dudley ran one back 96 yards.