Eagles clinch playoff berth, 27-13
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Playoff berths are so routine for the Philadelphia Eagles they don’t celebrate anymore.
Donovan McNabb threw for one touchdown and ran for another, DeSean Jackson had 140 yards receiving and the Eagles beat the San Francisco 49ers 27-13 Sunday to clinch a playoff spot for the eighth time this decade.
None of the first seven trips produce a Super Bowl victory, however.
“It’s always good to clinch a spot early, but we’re still going to put our foot on the pedal,” McNabb said. “It’s an exciting time, but nothing to get overly excited about. One of our goals is to have a bye week and win the NFC East and the only chance for that to happen is to win the last two games.”
With San Francisco’s loss, the Arizona Cardinals secured their second straight NFC West title.
The Eagles (10-4) have won five straight games and have a one-game lead over Dallas in the NFC East. Philadelphia visits the Cowboys in two weeks.
The start of the game was pushed back three hours because the city was still recovering from the second-largest snowfall it has seen since records began in 1884. A total of 23.2 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia on Saturday.
It didn’t seem that bad inside Lincoln Financial Field until some fans started throwing snow in the fourth quarter. Once LeSean McCoy scored on a 2-yard TD run to put the Eagles ahead 27-13, a few of the frozen die-hards celebrated by tossing snow up in the air. Some fans mixed in snowballs aimed at 49ers fans, but they quickly stopped when a warning was flashed on the video screen.
“We don’t need to throw snowballs,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “We’re a classy crew here in Philadelphia. Save that for the parking lots.”
Frank Gore ran for 107 yards, becoming the first player to surpass 100 yards against the Eagles in 24 games. But the 49ers (6-8) couldn’t overcome three interceptions thrown by Alex Smith.
McNabb finished 21 of 36 for 306 yards. He threw two interceptions for just the second time this season.
“There were throws I definitely want back,” McNabb said. “It was uncharacteristic of myself, tried to force the ball.”
Down 20-3 at halftime, the 49ers scored 10 quick points to get close. Josh Morgan returned the second-half kickoff 52 yards, but the offense couldn’t capitalize and Joe Nedney kicked a 25-yard field goal.
Then Dre’ Bly intercepted McNabb’s cross-body pass into double coverage. This time, the Niners took advantage. Smith connected with Morgan on a 12-yard pass to cut it to 20-13.
The Eagles later drove 89 yards and went ahead 27-13 on McCoy’s run early in the fourth period. McNabb’s 59-yard pass to Jackson on third-and-2 kept the drive going.
A scrambling McNabb hit Jackson for a 19-yard TD pass to put Philadelphia ahead 7-0 on the opening possession. It was the shortest of Jackson’s 11 TDs this season. He already has tied the NFL record with eight scores of at least 50 yards, including two punt returns and one rush.
“It’s a challenge for me to go out there and still have people focusing on me the way they do,” Jackson said. “It’s a good challenge for myself and the team to be able to still go out there and make things happen.”
Nedney drilled a 51-yard field on San Francisco’s first possession.
Coming off an impressive victory over Arizona on Monday night, the 49ers were sluggish following a short week and cross-country flight. But the Eagles weren’t too sharp, either.
“Obviously it was not our best performance,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “We came out here to play a different game and do all the things we had to do to get it done and we didn’t get it done.”
Michael Vick limped off and didn’t return because of a quad contusion in the first quarter. Reid then made a gutsy call to go on fourth-and-1 from Philadelphia’s 29, but Leonard Weaver was stuffed by Takeo Spikes and Michael Lewis, a pair of former Eagles.
The 49ers wasted the excellent field position. Sheldon Brown stripped Delanie Walker after an 8-yard catch and Asante Samuel recovered at the 6. McNabb drove the Eagles 94 yards in nine plays, running in from the 8 to make it 14-3.
Samuel intercepted Smith on San Francisco’s next possession and his 18-yard return to the Niners 28 set up a 22-yard field goal by David Akers.
Notes: Vick was hobbling around the locker room and his status is uncertain for next week. … McCoy set the Eagles single-season record for yards rushing by a rookie. He passed Correll Buckhalter, who had 586 yards in 2001. … Samuel’s interception was his eighth this season, the most by an Eagles player since Eric Allen had eight in 1989. … Gore is 58 yards shy of his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season.