In a dominating performance, Donovan McNabb completed 23 of 32 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score Saturday night in a 31-7 victory over Washington that clinched the Eagles' third consecutive NFC East title.
The Eagles (12-4) secured a much-needed off week to rest their battered roster, although running back and return man Brian Westbrook suffered an injury that might need longer to heal. The team's leading rusher tore a triceps muscle when he was tackled by Jeremiah Trotter on a screen pass in the first quarter.
Westbrook is scheduled for an MRI on Sunday, but his teammates are bracing for the worst. At least the Eagles have options, having shared the tailback duties among Westbrook, Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter all season.
"It just means Correll and I need to pick up our play," Staley said. "There is no question that he is going to be missed."
Philadelphia will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if St. Louis loses to Detroit on Sunday. Had Philadelphia lost to the Redskins, the Eagles might have been forced to play on the road next week as a wild card.
"It's very big," McNabb said. "You get a chance to refocus and get your mind right and also take care of some injuries that might have bothered us throughout the year. And just come back with a whole new different attitude."
The Redskins (5-11) lost 10 of their last 12 and finished with their worst record since going 3-13 in 1994. There is rampant speculation over the future of coach Steve Spurrier, who has looked worn and beaten in recent weeks.
After the game, an antsy Spurrier rebuffed a report that his resignation was imminent and said he plans to "let the dust settle a while" before announcing any plans. He faces a possible showdown with owner Dan Snyder over assistant coaches and personnel decisions, and he also has hinted that he needs to become a more discipline-orientated coach.
"There are going to be changes," Spurrier said. "We've got to change something -- we know that. We'll announce the changes as they occur."
Among Washington's lowlights: The team broke the franchise record for penalties in a season, committing nine to finish with 124 and surpass the mark of 122 set in a 12-game season in 1948.
McNabb moved impeccably in the pocket, finding open receivers on the run as the Eagles scored touchdowns on their first three drives to take a 21-7 halftime lead.
He was also savvy enough to spot tight end Chad Lewis completely uncovered to the right on a second-and-goal at the 3. With the Redskins' defense confused, McNabb took a quick snap and hit Lewis for the easy touchdown for the game's first score.
McNabb strolled across the goal line on a 1-yard bootleg to make it 14-0 and celebrated by doing his version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance. The 96-yard drive was kept alive by a third-down illegal-contact penalty on safety Todd Franz.
McNabb then hit Freddie Mitchell with an 8-yard TD pass following a fumble by Redskins quarterback Tim Hasselbeck deep in Philadelphia territory. In the second half, McNabb threw an 11-yard TD screen to Buckhalter, who scored with an outstretched dive for the pylon.
McNabb completed passes to 10 receivers, including himself. One of his passes was batted back to him by LaVar Arrington, although the catch was a bad decision that resulted in a 7-yard loss.
Bruce Smith, the Redskins' defensive end and NFL sack king, was honored at halftime of his final game. The cries of "Bruuuuuce!" turned to boos when Smith thanked Snyder, who has overseen four consecutive non-winning seasons. The 40-year-old Smith finished his 19-year career with 200 sacks, breaking Reggie White's mark of 198.
"It's been a career filled with a lot of ups, a few downs," Smith said. "But it's been one that I wouldn't trade in for anything."
The Redskins were outscored 58-7 in their final two home games, both against NFC East teams. Dallas beat them 27-0 two weeks ago. The Eagles traveling fan contingent was so large that linebacker Keith Adams was able to go to the end zone and lead cheers during a break in play in the first half.
"We've got a ways to go," Spurrier said. "I think everybody can see that. We couldn't stay on the field with the Eagles."
- Arrington had five tackles one day after signing an eight-year contract worth $60 million to $80 million, depending on various incentives and accelerator clauses. The contract includes a $15.5 million signing bonus.
- CB Champ Bailey's future is much less certain. He has turned down an offer, and the Redskins are threatening to designate him as a franchise player. "I can say I want to be here more than anything in the world, but maybe they don't want me," Bailey said.
- The Eagles scored on their opening drive for the sixth time this season; they are 10-0 when scoring in the first quarter.
- Philadelphia coach Andy Reid is 4-0 vs. Spurrier.
- The Redskins are 2-10 against NFC East teams under Spurrier.
The Associated Press News Service
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