Pulled at halftime after a second straight dreadful performance, a perfectly healthy Donovan McNabb was asked the last time he left a game under similar circumstances.
“Never,” he replied, shaking his head. “Never.”
While Kevin Kolb ran the Philadelphia offense, McNabb watched stoically from the sideline as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Eagles 36-7 on Sunday, presenting first-year coach John Harbaugh with a lopsided victory over the team he served as an assistant for 10 years.
McNabb was 8-for-18 for 59 yards with two interceptions and a fumble in the first half—a miserable 13.2 quarterback rating. One week earlier, he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in an overtime tie with Cincinnati.
Seven turnovers in seven quarters was evidently enough for Philadelphia coach Andy Reid, who benched McNabb and turned to Kolb, a second-round pick who had attempted nine throws in two seasons before Sunday.
“I thought it might be a little bit of a spark, and we might be able to get some things going,” said Reid, who had quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur tell McNabb of the decision.
“My first (reaction) was, ‘Wow.’ But you go along with it,” McNabb said. “I am upset about us losing the game, and I’m upset that I wasn’t able to contribute. But I am going to focus on trying to help this team get better by eliminating mistakes and turnovers.”
Kolb failed to cure the ailing Eagles (5-5-1), going 10-for-23 for 73 yards and two interceptions—a 15.3 rating. One of his interceptions was returned an NFL-record 108 yards for a touchdown by Ed Reed.
“Obviously, it didn’t go good and I’m not going to pretend that it did,” Kolb said.
Reid said he would decide Monday whether to start McNabb or Kolb in Thursday’s home game against Arizona.
“That will be a decision he will make. The thing I will do is I will continue to prepare as if I am the starter,” McNabb said. “I’ve been a part of this thing for 10 years. You have to have short-term memory in this league, be able to focus on who you’re playing and be able to move on.”
Philadelphia’s lone touchdown came on a 100-yard kickoff return by Quintin Demps in the first half.
Baltimore (7-4) went up 12-7 in the third quarter when Jameel McClain blocked a punt by Sav Rocca and the ball bounced out of the end zone.
Matt Stover kicked a field goal to launch a 24-point fourth quarter that included a 53-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Mark Clayton, Reed’s interception return and a 1-yard TD run by Le’Ron McClain.
Reed returned two interceptions for a total of 151 yards—more than the passing yardage of both Philadelphia quarterbacks. Reed avoided several tackles on the right sideline during his end zone-to-end zone run.
“It’s a blessing just to come out, read the keys and do your job,” said Reed, who has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in his career.
“Ed Reed is just one of the greatest ballplayers I’ve ever seen,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.
Harbaugh, who was looking forward to this game since the NFL schedule was released, said, “There is no way to describe it. It was meaningful to see Andy Reid over there.”
Knowing Reid has come under fire for Philadelphia’s mediocre record, Harbaugh added, “That’s a very well-coached football team. They’re going to continue to win a lot of games.”
Following a first quarter that featured five punts, the Ravens forced McNabb into two turnovers and started both drives in Philadelphia territory. But both possessions ended in punts.
The defensive struggle continued until late in the half, when the teams combined for 17 points in 1 minute, 23 seconds.
On the first play after Stover kicked a 44-yard field goal, Reed picked off a McNabb pass and returned it 43 yards to the Philadelphia 6. On third down from the 1, Flacco threw a pass that Daniel Wilcox snagged with his left hand in the right side of the end zone.
Demps followed with his kickoff return, the longest by a rookie in Eagles history.
Notes: Eagles RB Correll Buckhalter sprained a ligament in his knee; DB Asante Samuel and DE Darren Howard hurt their necks. … Rookie Jameel McClain is the first Ravens player to have two career safeties.