By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 4, 2010; 12:12 AM
PHILADELPHIA - With his Washington Redskins teammates eagerly requesting more, quarterback Donovan McNabb felt obliged to deliver after their effective performance in support of him.
They chanted for McNabb, who moments before had received the game ball from Coach Mike Shanahan, to say a few words after the Redskins' 17-12 victory in his first game here since he was traded from the Eagles. McNabb surveyed the locker room and continued to lead.
Instead of focusing first on his personal situation with Eagles management, which spurred the surprising Easter Sunday trade between NFC East rivals, McNabb talked about what the victory could mean for the Redskins. He did, however, save a zinger for the Eagles at the end, making it clear they erred in trading him within the division. And McNabb apparently knows his audience.
"It went over real well," outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said of McNabb's impromptu comments. "The things Donovan said, that stays in the locker room, but we were all feeling for him what he was feeling for himself deep down. . . . Any time a guy has played in a city for 11 years, and they trade him away like this, he wants to come back to win. We wanted to help him do that."
On an overcast day, the Redskins helped McNabb leave Lincoln Financial Field with a victory in front of 69,144 people. Washington evened its record at 2-2 after consecutive losses and moved into a first-place tie atop the NFC East.
McNabb threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Cooley as he led the Redskins to 17 points on their first three possessions (they were ahead, 14-0, after the first quarter). Young running back Ryan Torain ran hard and finished with a game-high 70 yards, including a highlight-reel 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter on which he ran over Eagles strong safety Quintin Mikell en route to the end zone.
Clinton Portis also rushed for 55 yards and had two receptions for 26 yards, though he was slowed by a groin injury that prompted him to leave the game for good early in the final quarter.
Although the Redskins' offense produced only 293 yards and McNabb completed 2 of 11 passes for 10 yards after halftime, he did enough to ruin things for the Eagles (2-2).
"I was overwhelmed a little bit with the standing ovation and the reception that I got," said McNabb, who was warmly received by fans before his 125-yard passing performance. "You realize that you spent 11 years here and you knew that it was coming."
Washington's much-maligned defense had its best performance under coordinator Jim Haslett, and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick - McNabb's longtime friend and the NFL's most dynamic offensive player through the season's first three weeks - was not a major factor before he suffered rib and chest injuries late in the opening quarter that ended his game.
As Vick stretched to reach the end zone after a scramble, free safety Kareem Moore and cornerback DeAngelo Hall simultaneously hit him on each shoulder. In a quarter, Vick completed 5 of 7 passes for 49 yards. He rushed three times for 17 yards but did not produce the big plays that opposing defensive coordinators fear.
"I think DeAngelo came from one side, I came from one side and I just tried to throw it in there before he got in the end zone," Moore said. "He was just down for a minute. Hats off to DeAngelo for hustling, man. I was just trying to make that tackle. I think it was big. With them game planning with Vick being their No. 1 quarterback, when he went down, the game plan didn't change for 'em, but a lot of things changed."
Although Haslett usually prefers to blitz as part of his aggressive game plans, the Redskins played more conservatively against the Eagles, even after backup Kevin Kolb replaced the elusive Vick in the final minute of the first quarter. The Redskins tried to generate pressure with only four pass rushers and committed everyone else to coverage.
Cornerbacks Hall and Carlos Rogers were very physical against fast Eagles wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who finished with only four catches for 34 yards combined and no touchdowns. And defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was a disruptive force in easily his best performance since the scheme was changed.
"They executed exactly what we asked 'em to. They did a nice job," Haslett said of the team's defensive players, who gave up a season-low 353 yards. "We wanted to make sure the receivers didn't get anything deep on us. To me, that was a big thing. . . . We were determined not to give up big chunks of yardage."
Hall capped his outstanding performance in coverage with an interception on Kolb's final desperation pass. Then the Redskins returned to the visitors' locker room to share a moment with McNabb.
"You can ask any guy in here, yeah, we wanted this for him," fullback Mike Sellers said. "He's an excellent teammate and he's a great guy. The circumstances that he left here . . . we wanted to get this one in for him. He didn't talk all week. He kept it even-keeled . . . but you knew he wanted it. So we put in the work and we got it."
McNabb's return to Philadelphia for the first time as a Redskins player was the NFL's biggest story of the week. The national media and reporters who cover the Redskins and Eagles daily probed McNabb's past with the Eagles in the days leading to Sunday's high-profile showdown.
McNabb's relationship with Philadelphia Coach Andy Reid, which is still said to be strong, and his bond with Vick - he strongly encouraged the Eagles to sign Vick after the three-time Pro Bowler was released from federal prison - were among the most popular story lines. As was the Eagles' decision to part ways with McNabb, at least in part, because some high-ranking decision-makers were eager to move forward with Kolb as the starter this season.
With that backdrop, McNabb traveled back to the city where his professional career began. Some Philadelphia fans had booed McNabb when he was selected with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft, but he was received much more warmly in his first appearance at the stadium in burgundy and gold.
During pregame warm-ups, the public address announcer introduced McNabb last. He received a standing ovation as he stood on the field with teammates around him, waving to the crowd. Once the game began, though, McNabb was booed vociferously.
"You didn't expect them to cheer for me the whole game?" McNabb asked. "That just wouldn't be right. I was just happy about the way that they, obviously, gave me a standing ovation early. Then we buckled the chin straps and then the boos came. I think all the quarterbacks got booed today."