In a win they simply had to have, the Philadelphia Eagles took advantage of another poor outing by Jets QB Chad Pennington, and some early fireworks from Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis to top the Jets 16-9 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The scoring came fast for the Eagles, as McNabb and Curtis hooked up on a 75-yard TD pass about five minutes into the game after the Jets kicked a first possession field goal to make it 3-0. The teams traded field goals for the remainder of the contest, with Mike Nugent kicking three for the Jets, and David Akers true on three as well for Philly.
The story of this game though was Pennington, and the increased pressure that the Jets are getting to replace him. He was just 11-for-21 for 128 yards with no TD’s and a pick. He is still showing an inability to get the ball down the field, and despite a 27-yard completion was held to just 6.1 yards per completion. “Right now, I’m just numb,” Pennington said postgame. “Not a lot of answers.” One answer could be Pennington sitting the bench for Kellen Clemens, who Jets fans are calling for after another down outing by Pennington.
The Jets are now 1-5, and in 21 games as QB for coach Eric Mangini, Pennington has thrown 23 TD’s and 22 picks. Clearly the time for him to make a move for the good of the team is now. On this day, the running game could not be held at fault for the loss, as Thomas Jones finally gave the team a spark with 130 yards on 24 carries, a 5.4 per carry average. He was by far the best offensive weapon for the Jets on a day when the passing game was once again stuck in the mud.
New York did have a shot to tie the game from the Philly 4-yard line with three shots, but questionable play-calling and poor execution ended their best threat for a touchdown, the last being a Pennington pass that fell incomplete to Laveranues Coles. “I lined up in man coverage and stayed with him,” Eagles defender on the play Sheldon Brown said. “I thought he might take a hard out, but he just kind of kept going. I just backed up a bit, kind of opened up, and I was able to be right there to make a play.”
The Eagles needed this win badly off the bye if they are going to make any sort of run at the NFC East or just a wild card in the weak NFC. They used the big early play by McNabb, plus the return of back Brian Westbrook, who rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries to carry the offense. Wide out Reggie Brown also added six catches for 89 yards, and made a huge catch on 3rd-and-8 that allowed the birds to run out the clock in the 4th quarter.
While it wasn’t a thing of beauty, the Eagles will gladly take the win to improve to 2-3 with a meeting in Chicago against the Bears up next. “The most important thing is that we won the game,” McNabb said. “It’s nice to look up at the scoreboard and see you got a win.”