Consecutive wins put Eagles back in division race

Updated: October 6, 2003, 7:03 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles' win over the Washington Redskins got them back to .500 and drastically improved their outlook after a disastrous start.

"It was a very good win against what I consider to be a good football team," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday. "You want to challenge yourself each week and I think the NFC East is strong right now. I think that's what it's all about."

The Eagles' 27-25 victory over the Redskins on Sunday essentially was a must-win, even though it's just October. The Eagles (2-2) couldn't afford to fall 2{ games behind the Redskins (3-2) if they have their sights set on a third straight NFC East title.

The surprising Dallas Cowboys (3-1) are up next for the Eagles. A victory in Dallas and a Redskins loss to Tampa Bay would put the Eagles in at least a tie for first place.

Two weeks ago, the Eagles were just thinking about saving their season instead of making a third consecutive trip to the NFC championship game. They opened with losses in their new stadium to Tampa Bay and New England Patriots, and had a bye week to dwell on it.

"There was no need to panic," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "We're moving our way up. We have to remind ourselves that we're still the NFC Eastern Division defending champions. We want to keep on proving that as such and keep going out and play the way the Eagles are supposed to play."

McNabb still isn't performing like a three-time Pro Bowl player, but he's making enough plays to help the Eagles win. And Philadelphia's injury-ravaged defense has put together two solid efforts.

A week after shutting down Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills' offense, the defense held Washington to 219 total yards before the Redskins' final two scoring drives.

"They've done a nice job. I'm proud of them. They're very competitive," Reid said of the defense.

The Eagles were missing All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins (foot) and Pro Bowl cornerbacks Troy Vincent (hamstring) and Bobby Taylor (foot). Clinton Hart, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown again filled in well.

Reid said "it would be a real struggle" for Dawkins to play against the Cowboys. Vincent is likely to return this week and Taylor could possibly join him in the secondary.

The performances of Sheppard and Brown, both second-year pros, have allowed Vincent and Taylor to not rush their returns.

"They're talented guys. They can run and they can cover," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said of the young replacements. "If they didn't do that, then we'd be worried."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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