Final

Eagles 38

(2-1, 2-0 away)

49ers 24

(1-2, 1-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:15 PM ET, September 24, 2006

Monster Park, San Francisco, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
PHI 14 10 7 738
SF 0 3 7 1424

Top Performers

Passing: D. McNabb (PHI) - 296 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: B. Westbrook (PHI) - 8 CAR, 117 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Brown (PHI) - 5 REC, 106 YDS

DT Patterson rumbles for 98-yard TD in Eagles' win

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Mike Patterson simply followed one of football's oldest rules: Keep playing until you hear the whistle.

It was over when ...
Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson picked up a loose ball at his 2-yard line and took it 98 yards for a score, giving the Eagles a 31-3 lead in the third quarter. It was the longest fumble return in team history, breaking a 32-year-old record.
Game ball goes to ...
Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook, who rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a scoring pass from Donovan McNabb.
Scouts Inc.'s take ...
After a devastating loss last week in overtime, the Eagles got well in a hurry against the 49ers. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb threw to seven different receivers and did not seem to miss Donte' Stallworth, who was inactive due to injury. The Eagles' defense held 49ers running back Frank Gore to 52 yards on 16 carries.

About 98 yards after he started running with a loose ball nobody seemed to want, the 292-pound defensive lineman was begging for that whistle.

Wheezing, wincing and finally walking, Patterson still crossed the opposite goal line with the stunning fumble return that helped the Philadelphia Eagles head home with a 38-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Brian Westbrook rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, also catching a scoring pass from Donovan McNabb, who passed for 296 yards -- but Patterson's kooky fumble return was the most memorable moment of an otherwise methodical win.

Philadelphia's genial run-stopping defensive tackle seized an unlikely moment when Frank Gore fumbled while trying to stretch over a goal-line pile of players in the third quarter. Patterson thought he was the only person who saw the ball.

"I didn't hear a whistle, so I just picked it up and ran with it," said Patterson, a California native playing in front of at least 60 friends and family. "I felt it on the 40, started breathing real hard. I just tried to remember my form."

Patterson got to midfield before most of the Niners realized the ball was still live. He eventually walked over the goal line for the longest fumble return in Eagles history, surpassing a 32-year-old record and putting Philadelphia ahead 31-3.

"He looked really quick for about a good 40, 50 yards, but I think reality hit -- how big he was," McNabb said.

The Eagles (2-1) had plenty of highlights to go around. Reggie Brown caught five passes for 106 yards as Philadelphia shook off last week's embarrassing collapse against the Giants, emphatically protecting a huge lead this time with 416 yards of sharp offense.

The Niners lost more than the football and their momentum on the big fumble: Gore, who fumbled at the goal line last week as well, and rookie tight end Vernon Davis were injured on the play. Davis, the sixth overall pick, will be out for a month with a broken leg.

"It hurts. You're down at the 1, and it's a 14-point swing," said Alex Smith, who passed for a career-high 293 yards. "Fourteen points. Take a look at the scoreboard. Take away 14 points, and it's pretty close. Those things hurt, but they happen."

Smith went 27-of-46 and rookie Michael Robinson scored two touchdowns for the 49ers (1-2), but their good vibe from last week's victory over St. Louis evaporated in a cloud of offensive mistakes and missed tackles.

In the Eagles' 42-3 pounding of the 49ers last September, McNabb passed for 342 yards and five touchdowns. He was nearly as proficient on the opposite coast this time, passing for 232 yards and two scores in the first half as Philadelphia took a 21-point lead.

"I thought last year they just flat kicked our tail," coach Mike Nolan said. "I think this year we did a good job of kicking our own tail, and they did a good job, too. So it was two against one."

McNabb completed 12 of his first 16 throws in Philadelphia's clever game plan, hitting Westbrook and tight end L.J. Smith for short scores. Westbrook, who missed practice last week with swelling in his knee, got his second TD on a 71-yard run in the second quarter, rudely stiff-arming Niners safety Mike Adams along the way.

"I was well rested, fresh, felt good," Westbrook said. "They're up-and-coming, they're very young, and we're an experienced team. We know how to come back from a hard loss."

San Francisco was booed at halftime, but finally got in the end zone after Patterson's record run. Bryan Gilmore's 75-yard catch set up Robinson's 1-yard dive -- the former Penn State quarterback's first NFL score.

Donte' Stallworth was a late scratch from the Eagles' lineup with a hamstring injury, but Brown came through with his first 100-yard receiving game. The Eagles adeptly used screen passes and misdirection to frustrate the 49ers' pass-rushers, who had nine sacks in their first two games.

Brown, the 35th pick in the 2005 draft, could have been chosen by the 49ers to boost the NFL's worst corps of receivers. Instead, they used the 33rd pick on disappointing offensive lineman David Baas, whose uniform stayed sparkling-clean in his spot on the Niners' sideline.

Game notes


McNabb's quarterback rating was 105.1 -- impressive, but not quite his 155.4 in last season's win over San Francisco. ... The teams had three sacks apiece. ... Niners TE Eric Johnson caught a TD pass with 6 seconds left.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PHI
SF
1st Downs1623
Passing 1st downs
1213
Rushing 1st downs
48
1st downs from penalties
02
3rd down efficiency
5-127-18
4th down efficiency
0-01-1
Total Plays5477
Total Yards416392
Yards per play7.75.1
Total Drives1413
Passing266269
Comp-Att
18-3327-46
Yards per pass
7.45.5
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-303-24
Rushing150123
Rushing Attempts
1828
Yards per rush
8.34.4
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-53-4
Penalties9-728-64
Turnovers12
Fumbles lost
12
Interceptions thrown
00
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession24:3935:21

Passing Leaders

PHIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
McNabb18/332969.0203-30
SFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Smith27/462936.4103-24

Rushing Leaders

PHICARYDSAVGTDLG
Westbrook811714.6271
Buckhalter5163.205
SFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Gore16523.3015
Smith6396.5022

Receiving Leaders

PHIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Brown510621.2050
Schobel16060.0060
SFRECYDSAVGTDLG
Johnson78712.4126
Gilmore17575.0075

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERPHISF
phiTD13:23Brian Westbrook, 4 yd pass from Donovan McNabb (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 60 yds, 1:41
70
phiTD3:42L.J. Smith, 1 yd pass from Donovan McNabb (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 57 yds, 4:40
140
SECOND QUARTERPHISF
sfFG7:49Joe Nedney 48 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 49 yds, 6:16
143
phiTD7:04Brian Westbrook, 71 yd run (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 89 yds, 0:52
213
phiFG2:52David Akers 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 57 yds, 2:55
243
THIRD QUARTERPHISF
phiTD6:18Mike Patterson, 98 yd fumble return (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 49 yds, 6:53
313
sfTD4:04Michael Robinson, 1 yd run (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 76 yds, 1:56
3110
FOURTH QUARTERPHISF
sfTD15:00Michael Robinson, 1 yd run (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 43 yds, 1:48
3117
phiTD12:36Brian Westbrook, 8 yd run (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yds, 2:25
3817
sfTD0:10Eric Johnson, 15 yd pass from Alex Smith (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 16 plays, 76 yds, 5:08
3824