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Pennington returns but Jets fall short

10/27/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Donovan McNabb completed a touchdown pass,
ran toward the sideline, stopped, raised his arms, looked toward
the crowd and soaked in their applause.

It had been awhile since McNabb heard cheers.

McNabb completed 17 of 23 passes for 141 yards and one TD, and
Correll Buckhalter ran for 100 yards and two TDs, leading the
Philadelphia Eagles to a 24-17 victory over the New York Jets in
Chad Pennington's return Sunday.

Question on the Jets: So did Pennington prove that he's indeed ready to regain his job?
There's no doubt that Pennington proved it's his team again. He was a little rusty, but he's the Jets' franchise quarterback and should regain his job.

Question on the Eagles: Can they keep winning when McNabb passes for less than 150 yards?
In this division, the Eagles can win with McNabb throwing less than 150 yards. But it's going to take the same kind of defensive presence they received today.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"We knew what we're capable of," McNabb said. "Everything you
saw today was just a sign of the offense we can have."

Pennington, playing for the first time since breaking his left
wrist Aug. 23 in a preseason game against the New York Giants, was
14-of-23 for 154 yards and one costly interception.

His desperation pass from Philadelphia's 42 fell incomplete as
the Eagles (4-3) won for the fourth time in five games.

"For the most part he was a little bit rusty," Jets coach
Herman Edwards said. "He did some good things. He moved the team.
He didn't hurt us."

Vinny Testaverde led the Jets to 10 points in three possessions
before giving way to Pennington in the second quarter. Testaverde
finished 7-of-11 for 112 yards and one touchdown, a 60-yard toss to
Santana Moss on a perfectly executed flea flicker.

Curtis Martin had 110 yards rushing for the Jets (2-5).

"I didn't try to talk him into letting me stay in," Testaverde
said. "I knew going in what the plan was. Did I want to stay in?
Yes, but it's not my decision."

McNabb, heavily criticized for his poor performance this season,
threw a 4-yard TD pass to Jon Ritchie, giving the Eagles a 21-17
lead with 6:42 left.

A three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, McNabb came in with the
lowest passer rating (51.1) and completion percentage (47.9) in the
NFL. But playing without tape on his injured right thumb for the
first time since hurting it against Buffalo on Sept. 28, McNabb
looked more like the quarterback that went to Hawaii the last three
years.

He made crisp passes, quick decisions and led the Eagles into
the end zone on their first two possessions.

"I felt a whole lot better, but I'm still not 100 percent,"
McNabb said. "I was able to have a better grip."

Michael Lewis set up the go-ahead touchdown by intercepting
Pennington and returning it 23 yards to Philadelphia's 43.
Pennington carried out a play-action fake beautifully, but badly
underthrew Moss.

"The game came down to one play and I didn't make the play,"
Pennington said. "He made a great play. I made a bad throw."

Seven plays later, McNabb connected with Ritchie for just his
third TD pass of the season. Duce Staley set up the score with an
18-yard run to New York's 4.

David Akers made it 24-17 on a 30-yard field goal with 1:12
left.

The Eagles' Darwin Walker stopped LaMont Jordan on a
fourth-and-1 at the Jets 46, setting up Akers' FG.

Edwards planned to ease Pennington back into action by letting
Testaverde play the first few series. But Pennington entered with
the Jets starting a drive at their own 8, and he led them to
Philadelphia's 20 before Moss fumbled after a short pass.

Pennington led the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating and 68.9
completion percentage last year, and helped the Jets win the AFC
East after replacing Testaverde following a 1-3 start.

After Aaron Beasley intercepted McNabb and returned it 25 yards
to Philadelphia's 49, the Jets took a 17-14 lead on a 4-yard TD run
by Jordan in the final minute of the third quarter.

Akers was short on a 55-yard field goal attempt that would have
tied it early in the fourth.

Buckhalter ran in from 6 yards out to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead
on their first possession. McNabb completed all three of his passes
for 27 yards on the drive, and received a mock ovation from fans
after his 8-yard pass to Chad Lewis on the first offensive play.

After Testaverde's TD pass to Moss gave the Jets a 10-7 lead,
Buckhalter scored on a 7-yard TD run to put Philadelphia ahead
14-10.

Jets defensive end John Abraham had 3{ sacks, all in the first
half. He left the game with a right groin strain and his status is
uncertain.

Game notes
Eagles RB/returner Brian Westbrook left the game with a
left ankle injury and didn't return. DT Hollis Thomas tore a biceps
tendon late in the game. His status is uncertain. ... The Eagles
were without Pro Bowl cornerback Bobby Taylor (foot), All-Pro
safety Brian Dawkins (foot) and Pro Bowl guard Jermane Mayberry
(elbow). ... Jets DE Shaun Ellis had a sack in his 10th consecutive
game, a team record. ... Akers' miss was his first in only seven
tries this year. The Eagles had gone 13 quarters with attempting a
FG.