TEMPE, Ariz. — Even with a 24-0 lead, the Philadelphia Eagles didn't feel secure--not against the Arizona Cardinals and Jake Plummer.
Arizona had defeated the Eagles five consecutive times. In the last four, Plummer brought the Cardinals back from a fourth-quarter deficit, but this time the climb was too steep.
No Plummer magic could overcome the poor tackling and weak defensive line that doomed Arizona from the start Sunday in a 33-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles (4-3) used a grinding, ball-control attack to score on their first four possessions.
With Duce Staley out for the season because of a foot injury, the Eagles relied on Darnell Autry, Brian Mitchell and Stanley Pritchett.
Their play, combined with Donovan McNabb's passing and running, allowed Philadelphia to improve to 4-3 and stay a game out of first place in the NFC East.
The Eagles took a 17-0 halftime lead in front of a crowd of only 38,293 in 73,000-seat Sun Devil Stadium. They were ahead, 24-0, after McNabb's nine-yard touchdown pass to Chad Lewis with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
The Cardinals (2-4) cut it to 24-14 on Plummer's 10-yard scoring pass to Michael Pittman with 10:47 to play, but McNabb's 59-yard pass play to Charles Johnson set up Autry's one-yard touchdown run to make the score 30-14.
Eagle running backs managed only 36 yards in 13 carries in the previous week's 17-14 loss to Washington. But against the Cardinals the trio combined for 109 yards in 29 carries.
"We did it a little bit by committee, had different guys in there in different situations," Eagle Coach Andy Reid said. "We mixed and matched a little bit, and overall I think they did OK with it."
Arizona tried all kinds of defensive schemes against McNabb, who completed 24 of 34 passes for 226 yards and rushed for 35 yards in seven carries.
"The main thing was our inability to tackle Donovan McNabb," Cardinal Coach Vince Tobin said.