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Ravens stunned to see a stranger as Eagles quarterback

BALTIMORE - The Ravens thought it was their doing. They believed they had reinjured Donovan McNabb's reconstructed right knee. They couldn't believe he'd simply been benched for the second half.

Kevin Kolb tries to tackle Ravens' Ed Reed after interception.
Kevin Kolb tries to tackle Ravens' Ed Reed after interception.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff photographer

BALTIMORE - The Ravens thought it was their doing.

They believed they had reinjured Donovan McNabb's reconstructed right knee.

They couldn't believe he'd simply been benched for the second half.

"I remember one play when he landed on his knee real hard, so I asked him if he was all right," Ray Lewis said.

If only.

"Hmm. Sounds good," McNabb said.

McNabb was, in fact, physically sound, though his horrific second quarter might have shaken his psyche, what with his lost fumble and two interceptions.

Still, the vaunted Ravens defense, respectfully fearful of McNabb's powerful arm and game-changing legs, were elated when backup Kevin Kolb started the second half.

"You could say our antennae went up," said safety Ed Reed.

For Reed, they stayed up.

He intercepted Kolb's lazy, fourth-quarter pass in the back of the end zone and returned it 108 yards for a touchdown, breaking his own 4-year-old record by 2 yards.

Reed had intercepted McNabb, too, but that one wasn't this easy.

Then again, the Ravens expected plenty of chances for picks.

"They've been throwing the ball 40-plus or 50-plus times a game. You throw the ball like that, eventually, you know, something's got to give," Reed said. "Either you're going to have an awesome offense and everybody's going to be talking about you, which rarely happens when you're throwing the ball 50 times because you have no running game."

The Eagles entered yesterday's game averaging about 40 pass attempts per game and about 24 rushes, a little more than a 60/40 split. Subtract the 35 runs by the scrambling McNabb and gimmick-play ballcarrier DeSean Jackson, a wide receiver, and the split is more like 65/35.

"It's not just one guy. It's not just McNabb," Reed continued. "Your offensive line might be struggling a little bit. You're not running the ball as much. You've got to help your quarterback in this league. You can't just drop back and throw the ball the whole time. We knew that coming into this game. When you become that predictable, it's going to happen. Especially against a good defense."

Certainly, McNabb's recent performance warranted head coach Andy Reid at least considering replacing him. It's just that the Ravens couldn't believe they would be facing . . . who was it again?

"I think it was unfair to bench Donovan. I was glad. Donovan's an All-Pro quarterback," said Samari Rolle. "I'd never heard of Kevin Kolb."

Happy returns

When Ed Reed returned his interception of McNabb 43 yards and took his pick of Kolb 108 yards for a touchdown, it pushed him into first place in NFL history for return yards per interception. He averages 28.7, more than 3 yards more than Deion Sanders, who is second.

He juked Kolb and shook off Brian Westbrook near midfield on the touchdown runback, the fifth of his career. His earlier return nearly ended much less happily.

As he was being tackled at the Eagles' 6, he tried to shovel the ball to Samari Rolle. It never got there. The ball hit the ground and the Eagles recovered it.

However, Reed's poor judgment was matched only by his good fortune. His lateral attempt actually went forward, which meant he delivered an illegal forward pass. Since the ball hit the ground, the play died then.


He hit the sidelines and self-flagellated.

"I went up to coach and said, 'My bad,' " said Reed, who extended his team record to 37 interceptions, the most by any player since he entered the league in 2002. "Coach didn't really have to say anything . . . It was a terrible pitch."

It was extremely good luck. The Ravens scored a touchdown three plays later.

A safety dance

Ed Reed's shift to the right A-gap meant that all Jameel McClain had to do was beat Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos, who, in the second quarter, had to trip McClain as McClain flew past on his left.

Could the George Washington product do it again?

Chris Gocong moved over to cover Reed. Dorenbos barely touched McClain, who beat him again. The ball ricocheted off McClain's facemask and through the end zone for the third-quarter safety.

McClain's celebration was subdued . . . but then, he is only a nondrafted free agent out of Syracuse, converting to linebacker from defensive line.

However, since it was his second safety of the season - he sacked Oakland's JaMarcus Russell in the end zone Oct. 26 - maybe he should practice up.

"I didn't have any in college," McClain said. "I guess I'm getting them all in the NFL." *