BALTIMORE - When Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur notified Kevin Kolb that he'd be replacing Donovan McNabb in the second half yesterday, the second-year signalcaller didn't get dry-mouth or break out in a sweat or run to the john and lose his breakfast.
He smiled. That's right, he smiled.
The third quarter of a must-win road game against a nasty Ravens defense that had held the Eagles to six first-half first downs and 82 net yards is a tough spot to throw a guy with just nine career pass attempts. But Kolb loved it.
"My dad raised me to where you want that against-all-odds mentality," he said. "When I knew I was going in, I was smiling, man. I was ready to go.
"That's a situation where nobody expects you to do well in. If you do, you defy everyone's thoughts and ideas. That's what I was looking forward to doing. I didn't get it done, but there'll be another day."
Whether that day will be Thursday still is up in the air. Coach Andy Reid wasn't ready to say yesterday who would be his starting quarterback against the Arizona Cardinals on Thanksgiving.
Reid benched the slumping McNabb after an ugly 8-for-18, 59-yard, three-turnover first half that followed a month of ugly performances by the five-time Pro Bowler. After a 2-for-8 start, Kolb found his sea legs and engineered an impressive fourth-quarter drive to the Ravens' goal line. Completed five straight passes on the drive, including four to rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
That's the good news. The bad news is that, after a failed quarterback sneak, he threw a pass for Reggie Brown in the end zone that was picked off by Ravens safety Ed Reed, who returned it an NFL-record 108 yards for a touchdown to seal the Ravens' 36-7 win. Not exactly the way a young quarterback dreams of getting into the record books.
"We were doing well," Kolb said of the drive. "DeSean was getting out there running [after the catch] with the ball. We had the running game going a little bit [12- and 4-yard runs by Brian Westbrook]. We had some tempo. Then we didn't get in on the quarterback sneak and I messed up on the next play."
Why a coach of sound mind would have a novice quarterback throwing the ball on second down and just inches from the goal line is a logical question. But this is Reid we're talking about.
Bottom line, though, is it was a bad pass, novice or not.
"Reggie was running along the back of the end line," Kolb said. "He had beat Ed. Ed was trying to recover. I should have put it out in front of him where only he could get it. But I threw off my back foot and Ed made a great play.
"Shoot, I should have tackled the guy after he picked it, and I didn't do that either."
Kolb finished with 10 completions in 23 attempts for 73 yards. Threw two interceptions. Besides the one in the end zone, he had an earlier one picked off by Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle. Had wide receiver Kevin Curtis matched up one-on-one against Rolle down the left sideline, but underthrew Curtis and Rolle picked it off.
Kolb sincerely hopes Reid will give him an opportunity for redemption Thursday against the Cardinals.
"I want to be out there," the Texan said. "I'm excited about it being a short week, honestly, because I made mistakes. And when you make mistakes you want to get back out there and correct them. So, [after] getting a chance to look at the film tomorrow, I can't wait to get back on the field.
"I want to get better than today, and there's a lot of room to improve. I know I'm a better quarterback than I showed today. Although we did some decent things and moved the ball OK, it's crucial times that count as a quarterback. And I didn't get it done in crucial times.''
*To Andy Reid for yet another display of awful clock management late in the first half. He waited more than 15 seconds before using the Eagles' final timeout just before Steve Hauschka's failed 53-yard field goal attempt. The Eagles ended up getting the ball back on their 43-yard line with just 17 seconds left rather than 30-plus seconds. They managed to get off three snaps before having to resort to a McNabb Hail Mary. With those extra 15 seconds, they could have run another two plays and possibly moved close enough for a David Akers field goal attempt.
*To linebacker Chris Gocong, who missed the block on Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain on McClain's third-quarter blocked punt that resulted in a safety.
The guy Gocong initially was supposed to block dropped off the line just before the snap, which should have freed him up to pick up McClain after he blew by long-snapper Jon Dorenbos. But Gocong was too slow in reacting.
*How the Eagles managed to get flagged for a delay-of-game penalty on their very first possession. When they were going with no huddle.
*How a team that knows its star running back is playing with a bad ankle and a bad knee goes into a game with just two running backs. The Eagles deactivated Lorenzo Booker for the third straight game, leaving them with just gimpy Brian Westbrook and his backup, Correll Buckhalter. Buckhalter had back-to-back 8-yard carries late in the first quarter, then injured a knee, leaving Westbrook as their only non-Wildcat formation ball-carrying option.
*Why Andy Reid opted to decline an offsides penalty on Baltimore in the fourth quarter and take a 7-yard Kolb-to-Jackson completion. Second-and-3 or first-and-5? The decision was quickly forgotten moments later when Kolb completed another pass to Jackson for a first down, but still, the decision made no sense.
Did you notice?
*Donovan McNabb looked like a leper on the Eagles' sideline in the second half after getting benched. He pretty much stood by himself. Very few players came over to console him, except tight end L.J. Smith, who also got benched.
By the numbers
*Kevin Kolb's 15.3 passer rating was the lowest ever against the Ravens' defense. McNabb's 13.2 rating would have been, but he didn't throw enough passes to officially qualify.
*The Eagles were 1-for-2 on third-and-1. McNabb threw an interception on the first one. DeSean Jackson gained 12 yards on a direct snap for a first down on the second one. The Eagles now are 8-for-20 on third-and-1 this season.
*In their last three games, the Eagles have converted just nine of 42 third-down opportunities.
*The Eagles have scored a total of seven points in the first quarters of their last five games. For the seventh time in 11 games, they failed to score any points on their first possession.
*Eagles offensive linemen were called for as many holding penalties - three -as they were in the previous 10 games. The Eagles' special teams, which had been flagged just once in the previous five games, were penalized twice against the Ravens, once for holding (on Greg Lewis) and once for tripping (long snapper Jon Dorenbos).
*The Eagles had just four rushing first downs against the Ravens. In their last four games, they have a total of 16. Since Week 3, they've had more than five rushing first downs in a game just once (11 against the Falcons).
*Before he was benched yesterday, Donovan McNabb had turned the ball over seven times in the last six quarters (five interceptions, two lost fumbles).
*In his last five games, McNabb has a .526 completion percentage, has averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt and has thrown six touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
*For just the third time in his career, McNabb has thrown at least one interception in four straight games. The last time was in Games 6-9 of the 2005 season.
*The Eagles have just one interception in the last four games. They had six in the four games before that.
*The Ravens ran the ball 40 times. It was the fourth time in the last five games that they've had 40 or more rushing attempts.
*Joe Flacco has thrown just two interceptions in the Ravens' last six games. He has nine touchdown passes in those six games.
*The Ravens forced five Eagles turnovers. In their seven wins this season, they have a plus-13 turnover ratio. In their four losses: minus-6.