Many a sore butt, wrote W.H. Auden, finds a sorer one to kick.
No sooner did the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC championship game than the New York press turned around to dump on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb – as if hitting McNabb when he’s down is going to lessen the pain for the two defeats Donovan dealt the Giants over the last five games. Here’s Hank Gola from Monday’s Daily News: “If this was Donovan McNabb’s last game as an Eagle, it summed up his career perfectly: just short .. although he was outplayed by Kurt Warner, it wasn’t McNabb’s worst game. He finished 28-4-7 for 275 yards, 3 TDs, one interception, and a lost fumble. But he also failed to take advantage of several big-play opportunities in the first half, when he made several poor throws.”
It was nice of Gola to mention that on a day when McNabb threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns, it wasn’t his “worst day.” He might also have mentioned that some of McNabb’s “poor throws” in the first half might have had something to do with a season-best performance by the Arizona Cardinals’ defense.
If anything summed up McNabb’s career perfectly, it’s the postgame response to the Eagles’ 32-25 loss to Arizona: Donovan McNabb gets 406 total yards, including the 31 he ran for – that’s 85 more yards than the Cardinals team — brings his team back from a 24-6 half time
deficit to a 25-24 fourth quarter lead, watches helplessly from the sidelines as Warner marches the Cardinals on a seven minutes-plus
fourth quarter winning drive, and he gets blamed for the loss.
Does anyone really think that if the Eagles’ defense (which left McNabb with a 21-point deficit to make up) and kicker David Akers (who missed a field goal, an extra point and put his team in a hole by booting the ball out of bounds on a kickoff) had played as well as McNabb that Philadelphia wouldn’t have won?
If indeed this was McNabb’s final game with the Eagles, it might be fairer to remember him as a quarterback who finished the 2008 season with a higher NFL passer rating than Brett Favre and a higher won-lost percentage than either Favre or Peyton Manning. It also might be fair to mention that he did, after all, win 9 of 15 postseason games, including a three-point also in the 2005 Super Bowl to a much superior New England Patriots team.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2009