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(Sunday, September 13th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 38, Carolina 10
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Donovan McNabb accounted for three touchdowns in Philadelphia's 38-10 drubbing of Carolina in the season opener, but it was his rushing TD in the third quarter that may cost the Eagles down the road.
Deep in Carolina territory, McNabb couldn't find an open receiver and decided to tuck the ball and run. With the only thing between him and the end zone being Panthers cornerback Richard Marshall, McNabb lowered his shoulder and took a big hit before spinning across the goal line.
There was no touchdown celebration, as McNabb grimaced on the ground and stayed there for several minutes before trainers came to his aid.
The QB walked off the field under his own power but exited toward the locker room shortly thereafter, finishing with 79 yards through the air and two touchdowns on 10-of-18 completions. He added 27 yards on the ground.
McNabb came back to the sideline during the fourth quarter but was clearly in pain with what was revealed to be a fractured rib.
"I'll know more as we go," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said of McNabb's status going forward. "I know he has a fracture rib. We'll see how he does."
The events overshadowed a dominating effort for the Eagles (1-0), who last season lost their fourth NFC Championship Game this decade. Brian Westbrook didn't show signs of offseason ankle surgery, rushing for 64 yards on 13 carries and catching a touchdown.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, who took over for the late Jim Johnson, had a strong showing in his first game, as his unit forced seven turnovers, recorded five sacks and held the Panthers to 169 yards.
Jake Delhomme, fresh off signing a contract extension this offseason, had a forgettable start for Carolina (0-1), throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble that resulted in an Eagles touchdown. The veteran signal-caller finished 7-for-17 for 73 yards and was benched midway through the third quarter for Josh McCown, whose knee injury forced the team to use emergency QB Matt Moore.
"I wasn't getting anything going for us," Delhomme said. "It's frustrating to open the season this way. We still have a long way to go."
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were held to 37 and 35 yards, respectively. Williams scored the only TD for the defending NFC South champion Panthers, who won all eight of their regular-season home games in 2008.
Carolina meticulously drove down the field on the game's first possession. Stewart got enough for a first down on 4th-and-1 from the Eagles' two-yard line, and following two false start penalties, Williams showed off his speed around the left end, dashing to the end zone to cap the eight-minute march.
The rest of the game didn't go as well for the Panthers.
The Eagles punted on their first touch of the game, and Sheldon Brown got the ball back with a diving interception in enemy territory to set up a 49-yard David Akers field goal with under a minute to play in the opening quarter.
Philly then scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the second frame despite running just one offensive play.
On the first snap of the frame, Trent Cole came in untouched and knocked the ball out of Delhomme's hands, and fellow defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri recovered at the two yard-line and rolled into the end zone for the score.
A little later, DeSean Jackson fielded a punt at his own 15, made one tackler miss and danced down the left sideline to paydirt.
On the ensuing drive, Brown picked off another inadvertent Delhomme pass and returned it 37 yards to the Carolina nine, where Brent Celek took a dump pass and rumbled in for a 24-7 lead with 9:55 left in the half.
Westbrook capped a 10-play, 74-yard drive later in the second, taking a shovel pass from McNabb four yards for a touchdown. A promising Carolina drive stalled in the red zone, with John Kasay's 22-yard field goal making it 31-10 at halftime.
The third quarter started with the quarterbacks trading interceptions, and the Eagles converted Delhomme's pick with McNabb's three-yard touchdown run that finished his afternoon.
Delhomme's next attempt through the air was intercepted by Asante Samuel, ending his frustrating day.
With Michael Vick's suspension not getting lifted until Week 3 this season, Kevin Kolb took over for the Eagles and didn't lead the team to any points while throwing for just 23 yards on 7-of-11 throws and losing a fumble.
"If it comes to [Kolb starting next week], I have trust in Kevin to do the job," Reid said. "With the No. 2 guy, they don't get a chance to get a lot of reps during the week. If he has a chance to get a little more reps, I think you'll see a little more production."
Philly finished off an uneventful fourth quarter and a thorough beating with a goalline stand with under a minute left.
Delhomme turned the ball over six times in his previous game, a playoff loss to Arizona...Carolina's Julius Peppers blocked an Akers 51-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter...Panthers starting safety Chris Harris did not play due to a knee injury he aggravated in pregame warmups...Brown doubled his interception total of a year ago...Moore finished with 63 passing yards and an interception on 6-of-11 attempts...Darren Howard had two sacks for the Eagles...Next week, Philadelphia hosts New Orleans, while Carolina heads to Atlanta to meet the Falcons.
09/13 19:51:43 ET
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