Eagles 42, 49ers 3
-- Donovan McNabb had every right to thump his bruised chest here on Sunday, considering his splendid work against the mostly inept San Francisco 49ers. The Philadelphia quarterback knew better, of course, on a day when he was simply satisfied to throw four of his five touchdown passes in the first half, two of them to former 49er Terrell Owens, as the Eagles dominated, 42-3, at Lincoln Financial Field.
"That's a big difference from last week," McNabb said of the NFC champion's season-opening 14-10 loss to Atlanta on the road last Monday night. "I hope we can use this as a little motivation. [My chest is] still sore, but this is an added bonus knowing the way we played today."
Three plays into the game, McNabb, wearing special shoulder pads and more "padding under the pads" to protect his tender chest, scrambled out of the pocket, feigned a run and lobbed a throw toward a wide-open Owens at the San Francisco 40. He watched his receiver easily dash to the end zone untouched for a 68-yard score. It served as further indication that the two players have been able to put aside their well-documented differences.
More evidence came when McNabb connected with Owens again on a 42-yard scoring pass for a 21-0 lead with 11 minutes 42 seconds left in the first half. Leaving two befuddled 49ers defenders in his wake, the controversial wide receiver stood at attention in the end zone and basked in the cheers of a sellout crowd of 67,727. That catch, one of five for 143 yards against the team he began his career with, pushed him over 10,000 yards receiving for his career. Owens became the 22nd player in league history to accomplish that feat.
McNabb completed 23 of 29 throws for 342 yards and no interceptions, and his five scoring passes matched his career best. The Eagles even had the luxury of sitting him down for last 14 minutes, and veteran backup Koy Detmer completed all nine of his passes for 94 yards. No. 3 quarterback Mike McMahon played a series and completed his only pass, to former Redskins wide receiver Darnerien McCants for 22 yards. In all, 11 Eagles had at least one reception.
The 49ers (1-1) managed 142 yards of offense, including 58 yards rushing, and quarterback Tim Rattay was intercepted three times and sacked three times before yielding to rookie Alex Smith in the final minutes. Said 49ers center Jeremy Newberry: "In every aspect of the game, we did not take care of business."
Owens was wearing his now-familiar headphones as he dressed in front of his locker after the game and declined to comment.
"When we're on the field, everyone is smiling when things are clicking," McNabb said. "Whatever has happened in the past, it's over by now."
Some of the 49ers, perhaps flush from their upset victory over St. Louis last week, had talked a little trash about Owens in the days leading up to Sunday's game. One of the more vocal detractors was middle linebacker Derek Smith, formerly of the Redskins, who said, "I don't think he buys into anything but his own thing" and that "I'd love to get a shot at him."
Asked about those comments, Philadelphia Coach Andy Reid said Owens "doesn't let all that bother him. I'm sure everyone on that team has an opinion [about Owens]. Obviously, guys either like him or don't like him. People taunt him every week. He just plays."
Safety Mike Rumph had the only hard shot on Owens, drilling him an instant after a 20-yard reception over the middle. But Owens popped up quickly as penalty flags flew on what seemed to be a hit with the helmet. But referee Tom White, after conferring with other officials, determined it was a clean tackle and no penalty was called.
Five plays later, McNabb found tight end L.J. Smith (nine catches for 119 yards) uncovered over the middle for a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Lito Sheppard's interception of a tipped Rattay pass and his 34-yard return to the 49ers 2 set up the fourth McNabb scoring pass on the next play, an easy toss in the flat to uncovered running back Brian Westbrook.
Aside from the big hit against Owens, the Eagles' only other scare involved place kicker David Akers, who suffered a hamstring strain on a first-half kickoff and was unable to attempt the extra point after Westbrook's touchdown. Linebacker Mark Simoneau, who last kicked in high school in Kansas, did the honors, punching the ball through for a 28-0 lead. He then was mobbed by his giddy teammates led by a towel-waiving McNabb.
One of the league's premier place kickers, Akers was able to come back and hit two more extra points in the second half, but his three kickoffs after intermission were unusually short and he was limping noticeably at game's end. His status for the Eagles' next game against Oakland here on Sunday will be determined later in the week.
"I just had an adrenaline rush," Simoneau said of his extra point. "It was a little better situation than being in a tied game. I just went back to basics. Watch the ball and make sure your foot finishes between the uprights. It just kind of happened."