The NFL has reviewed the play that led to Donovan McNabb's rib injury and ruled there was "no illegal hit on the play," a league spokesman told the Daily News today in an email.
McNabb broke a rib, coach Andy Reid said, after Carolina nose tackle Damione Lewis dived onto McNabb after the quarterback hit the turf on a touchdown run midway through the third quarter. McNabb, hit by corner Richard Marshall at the goal line, spun off that collision and scored, only to get drilled rolling on the ground, in much the same way he suffered separated rib cartilage in the NFC Championship Game against the Panthers on Jan. 18, 2004. No penalty was assessed, either time.
The Eagles were expected to bring the play to the league's attention, but spokesman Greg Aiello said teams do not have to file a complaint.
"All plays are reviewed by our officiating department," Aiello wrote. "The officiating department refers any plays that should be reviewed for possible discipline to Merton Hanks, our director of football operations and development. The McNabb play has been reviewed and there was no illegal hit on the play."
Coach Andy Reid seemed to be holding his tongue when asked about the league's ruling. "I can't say anything on that," Reid said. "You get those 300-pound guys … Sometimes they come in a little bit late. I'll take it from there."
Carolina coach John Fox was asked about the perception that it was a late hit and said he did not see anything that indicated the play was over the top. "No. It's a rough game," he said. "We're not clamoring about Josh McCown. He got whacked pretty good, too. It's tough. I'm sorry he (McNabb) got hurt. I don't like to see any player get hurt, our team or theirs. It's unfortunate."
THE MORNING AFTER
Five things we are talking about this morning after the Eagles' season-opening victory over Carolina:
1. The State of 5. Quarterback Donovan McNabb suffered a fractured rib on a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and had to leave the game. Coach Andy Reid isn't ready to rule McNabb out of the New Orleans game yet, but considering the pain he was in after the game, it's hard to believe he'll be able to play Sunday. Kevin Kolb, come on down.
2. Sean's Impressive Debut. The defense notched 7 takeaways and 5 sacks and held the Panthers to 169 net yards in their first game under new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. They blitzed quarterback Jake Delhomme and his two replacements early and often. But don't look for them to be nearly that aggressive next week against Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
3.The New Kid at Free Safety. The stat sheet showed rookie Macho Harris with just one tackle and one pass defensed. But he didn't do anything to make you think he's going to be a liability out there.
4. Brown's Big Afternoon. Sheldon Brown may not like his contract, but unlike Lito Sheppard, he's not going to let it affect the way he plays. He notched just the second 2-interception game of his career in Sunday's win. Both of his picks led to scores.
5. The Right Tackle Situation. Winston Justice made just his second career start Sunday, replacing injured Shawn Andrews at right tackle and seemed to hold up pretty well. Unlike his first start, when he was left out on an island against the Giants' Osi Umenyiora, he got plenty of help Sunday as the Eagles usually lined up a tight end next to him. We'll find out soon enough whether he played well enough to convince Andy Reid he doesn't need to re-sign Jon Runyan.
5 NUMBERS TO PONDER
2. Brian Westbrook's 4-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was the 67th touchdown of his career. It tied him with Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald for the third most in team history. Harold Carmichael leads the way with 79, and Steve Van Buren had 77.
3. For the 24th time in his career, Donovan McNabb had a passing and rushing touchdown in the same game.
4. In their last 2 season-openers, the Eagles have outscored their opponents, 76-13. They beat the Rams last year in Week 1, 38-3. It marks the first time Andy Reid has won back-to-back openers. He is now 5-6.
5. The Eagles, who held the Panthers to 86 rushing yards, have held 12 of their last 17 regular-season opponents under 100 rushing yards.
The Eagles host the New Orleans Saints next Sunday at 1 p.m. in the home opener.
The Saints posted a 46-27 victory over Detroit on Sunday and put up some impressive numbers doing it. Drew Brees threw for five TDs to five receivers and posted 358 yards passing. Tailback Mike Bell ran for a career-high 143 yards on 28 carries. The defense had three interceptions of rookie Matthew Stafford, the top pick in the draft.
Still, there was some unhappiness in New Orleans with some sloppy play, including a Brees interception and a Bell fumble, and some special teams woes.
"We scored 45, and you look at it and we turned the ball over three times, we got a field goal blocked. There were a lot more opportunities out there to be had, " Brees told reporters. "That's a good thing, but then you realize it only gets tougher as we go along. We have a huge challenge next week at Philadelphia. They won today at Carolina, so we know we have our work cut out for us, and we're going to have to be better next week."
For Domo's Eagles-Panthers report card and more on the Eagles' win, click here.
Plus, Daily News columnist, John Smallwood chats at 1:30 p.m. today.