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Eagles Function Well on the Reserve System

With McNabb out, Detmer excels until he too is hurt, then Feeley finishes off 38-17 rout of 49ers.

November 26, 2002|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — So how do you figure the Philadelphia Eagles? A week ago, starting quarterback Donovan McNabb broke his ankle and they won the game. Then, on Monday night, backup quarterback Koy Detmer dislocated his elbow and they won again.

While it might seem as if they're one more quarterback injury away from punching in Norm Snead on speed dial, the Eagles don't seem to be affected very much by it, and even if they are, it wasn't in evidence during a 38-17 blowout victory over the San Francisco 49ers at 3Com Park.

Detmer was wheeled off the field on a motorized cart in the third quarter after he was injured when wrapped up by 49er defensive end Chike Okeafor, who grabbed him below the knees. Detmer extended his left arm as he tried to break his fall and writhed in pain immediately after he hit the ground.

Eagle players were on their knees on the sidelines waiting for medical personnel to attend to Detmer, whose arm was placed in a soft cast. When he climbed into the back of the cart without aid, players from both teams went over to give him their good wishes.

"My whole arm went numb," Detmer said. "I'm lucky something wasn't broken. It was scary there for awhile."

Detmer felt well enough to return to the field and watch from the sideline in the fourth quarter. What he saw made him smile.

McNabb to Detmer to A.J. Feeley, that's the Eagles' quarterback lineage, and it's been good enough to keep them in the race for a first-round bye and a home-field playoff game.

Despite having thrown only 17 passes in his last three seasons, Detmer, 29, completed 18 of 26 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, ran for one and kept the Eagles rolling at 8-3. And Feeley threw a touchdown pass after replacing him.

Now, with five games left, the New York Giants at 6-5 are the only remaining Eagle opponent with a winning record.

Meanwhile, that whooshing noise heard all around the stadium was the air escaping from the 49ers' balloon

"We have to go out tomorrow and forget about this," said linebacker Derek Smith. "You have to have a short-term memory in this league."

Added quarterback Jeff Garcia, indentifying the turning point in the game: "Opening snap. We just never got it done."

Coming in with only one conference defeat and what appeared to be a favorable schedule, the 49ers seemed ready to set sail into December with a strong wind at their backs.

Instead, they discovered the reality of NFL parity. But even after losing two in a row, the 49ers are still 7-4 and will play three currently 4-7 teams next month: Seattle, Dallas and Arizona. In fact, the 49ers play only one more team with a winning record -- the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 15.

Philadelphia was leading comfortably, 28-10, when Okeafor tackled Detmer after a 24-yard completion to Jeff Thomason to the 49er one-yard line. Feeley, a second-year player from Oregon, threw a one-yard scoring pass to tight end Chad Lewis and the rout was on.

Not even a big night by Terrell Owens -- 13 receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns -- could save San Francisco.

It got ugly at halftime, when the 49ers, trailing, 21-7, after making only two first downs, ran off the field with a loud chorus of boos ringing inside their helmets.

The Eagles, running a McNabb-less offense, controlled the first half with ease as Detmer threw a pair of touchdown passes in a 21-point second quarter.

The Eagles scored twice in just over three minutes.

The first touchdown was a 25-yard pass to Todd Pinkston, who came back to catch the underthrown, wobbly throw. Pinkston beat Jason Webster to the ball, snagged it and plunged across the goal line.

The second was a record setter. Brian Mitchell took Jason Baker's line-drive 36-yard punt in a full sprint, made a right turn to the sideline and ran untouched, 76 yards, for his 13th touchdown on either a punt or a kickoff return. That broke the NFL record Mitchell had shared with Eric Metcalf.

Meanwhile, trailing, 14-0, the 49ers were piling up more boos than first downs, unsettling the crowd of 67,919.

After a 33-yard kickoff return by Jimmy Williams, the 49ers did something about it, driving 55 yards to get to within 14-7 on a three-yard scoring pass from Garcia to Owens.

The Eagles ran only three plays before punting and the 49ers started fast on their next drive when Garcia completed a 19-yard pass to Owens.

But Fred Beasley dropped a pass, Kevin Barlow was thrown for a three-yard loss and Garcia's pass to Tai Streets was incomplete.

Detmer took the Eagles on an eight-play, 74-yard scoring drive, scoring just before the half to make it a 14-point advantage again. Antonio Freeman caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Detmer, beating Mike Rumph on an inside route.

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