By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 2:18 AM
The somber mood of Washington Redskins players was understandable after a stunning 59-28 blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, though the embarrassment of their ineptitude was only beginning to develop Monday night.
Players expected to feel the pain of one of the worst performances in franchise history long after they left the locker room at FedEx Field, many said, and their response will determine what occurs the remainder of the season.
The Redskins took a major step backward against one of their NFC East division rivals in front of an announced crowd of 84,912, and no knew for sure whether they could pick themselves up again.
"This is a true test. This is a true test about what we're about and what we're gonna be about the rest of the season," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "To get whupped like we got whupped . . . I don't think words can really express where we're at right now and what we're gonna do.
"But we've just got to go out there and do it. There ain't gonna be too much talking in the locker room. You know? It's gonna be show me. I think that's the approach you've got to take."
On the day he received the contract extension he has sought since Philadelphia traded him to Washington on Easter Sunday, quarterback Donovan McNabb - who has struggled throughout his first season with Washington - threw a season-high three interceptions in one of the least-effective outings of his brief Redskins career, and quarterback Michael Vick upstaged his friend and former teammate in leading the Eagles to the win.
The Redskins stirred excitement among their fans before the game, reaching the five-year deal with the 12-year veteran, whose standing on the team has been in question recently after he was benched late in the previous game. McNabb's poor play, however, continued to prompt questions about his ability to perform at a high level in Coach Mike Shanahan's offense.
All of McNabb's interceptions Monday led to Eagles touchdowns. Late in the third quarter, Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson returned McNabb's final ill-advised pass 40 yards for a score. McNabb, whose new deal could be worth as much as $78 million, completed only 17 of 31 passes for 295 yards with two touchdowns.
McNabb was one of several players to say he was "embarrassed" by Monday's performance.
"It's a learning experience in this game, I think one that all of us can kind of look at individually," he said. "At some point in the year, you kind of have a gut check. This would probably be defined as one."
But the night belonged to Vick.
He delivered a show-stopping performance from the start on McNabb's big day, taking charge as Philadelphia raced to a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter before a stunned crowd. A national-television audience watched as Vick dazzled in the Eagles' 28-0 opening quarter, which included his 88-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the first play from scrimmage.
Philadelphia led 45-14 at halftime, setting a franchise record for most points in the first half. The Redskins tied their franchise record for the most points given up in an opening half and set a new mark in the regular season. With steady rainfall and fans apparently having little faith in the Redskins' ability to mount a comeback, there were many more empty seats after halftime than at the opening kickoff.
The Redskins gave up their most points in the regular season since surrendering 62 against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 7, 1954. Washington suffered its biggest defeat in franchise history during the 1940 NFL championship game - 73-0.
Vick finished 20 for 28 with 333 yards, four touchdown passes and a 150.7 passer rating. He also rushed for 80 yards (a 10-yard average) and two touchdowns. Despite missing three games because of an injury, Vick continued to make a strong case for himself as the NFL's most valuable player. The Eagles (6-3) continued to benefit from Vick's impressive comeback, moving into a first-place tie atop the NFC East with the New York Giants.
Several Redskins veterans compared the defeat to a 52-7 loss to the New England Patriots during the 2007 season, "but this feels worse, because of how they just hit us with such a flurry," inside linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher said. "Before you knew it, it was 35-0. The first five possessions, they scored touchdowns, touchdowns.
"When we went into the New England game, we just couldn't match up with them from a personnel standpoint. We couldn't match up with them personnel-wise, and that was just methodical. This was at home, a divisional opponent, Monday night football. And it's right now. Obviously, the present hurts more the past."
With the news of McNabb's long-term deal and the big-stage game on their home field, the Redskins had hoped for a night of celebration. Instead, they had their second nightmarish experience in as many games while dropping to 4-5 in the division. The Redskins lost to the lowly Lions before the break in a game in which Shanahan removed McNabb with less than two minutes to go, prompting more than two weeks of speculation about what the move could mean for the Shanahan-McNabb relationship.
And for the eighth time in nine games Monday, McNabb had a quarterback rating below 80.0.
McNabb, who spent the first 11 years of his career with the Eagles, did not come close to matching Vick's fast-break pace in producing points.
While Vick and the Eagles were putting the game out of reach in the first 15 minutes, McNabb completed only 2 of 6 passes for six yards. He had a 2.8 passer rating in the first quarter.
The Vick-Jackson big play in the first triggered a smattering of boos in the crowd. The Eagles - and the Redskins' frustrated fans - were only getting started. By the time Vick added a seven-yard touchdown run and an 11-yard touchdown pass to running back LeSean McCoy, many in the crowd were voicing their anger after each play. After running back Jerome Harrison burst through the line for a 50-yard touchdown run in the final two minutes of the quarter, the booing reached its peak.
To that point, anyway.
First-quarter total net yards: Eagles 280, Redskins 23. The Redskins had knocked out Vick late in the first quarter of their 17-12 victory in Week 4 at Lincoln Financial Field - and Vick quickly delivered a knockout blow in return Monday night.
The three-time Pro Bowler completed his eight attempts in the first quarter for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged an astounding 22.6 yards per attempt. In comparison, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers leads the league with an 8.9-yard average. For Vick, it all added up to a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He also ran for 26 yards and the touchdown.
The Eagles' dominance continued into the second. Vick continued to throw a picturesque deep ball, teaming with wideout Jeremy Maclin on a 48-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline with 14 minutes 51 seconds remaining in the first half.
On Oct. 3 in Philadelphia, Vick suffered a rib injury when Hall and free safety Kareem Moore tackled him at Washington's goal line. Vick, who was among the NFL's most productive players to that point, did not return and was sidelined for the Eagles' next three games.
He returned to the lineup in Week 9, led the Eagles to a victory against the Indianapolis Colts and was named the NFC offensive player of the week.
He just kept rolling against the Redskins.