There have been games this season in which some of the Eagles' wide receivers covered more ground running from the sideline to the huddle and back to the sideline than they did after making catches.

Apparently, Andy Reid has decided he was doing Donovan McNabb no favor rotating six receivers. It was messing up the timing, the coach said yesterday, about 10 hours after the Eagles kept their season meaningful with a Thanksgiving night, 48-20 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals.

And in Reid's pass-happy offense, timing is everything.

Reid's decision to limit the shuffling of receivers Thursday night had the most effect on Reggie Brown and Greg Lewis, both of whom rarely got on the field.

Shelving Lewis is not much of a surprise. He has averaged barely more than one catch a game the last two seasons. When his Eagles career ends, Lewis may best be known as a guy whose fumbled punt return led to a Packers touchdown in the 2007 season-opening loss.

But the fact Brown was largely a bystander against the Cardinals as Reid shortened his receiving corps was somewhat of a surprise. A second-round draft pick in 2005, Brown had a respectable 61 catches for 780 yards last season. This season, he has missed four games with injuries and has only 13 catches - six against Chicago.

"I know people have said we don't have a lot of good receivers. I think a little bit different from that. Right now, we've got a lot of good receivers," Reid said. "The problem is we had to back off on some guys so that we could get our timing back in the pass game.

"This is a timing passing game, a precision passing game, and we were rotating so many guys in there that it didn't give the quarterback and wide receivers an opportunity to get on the same page and get enough reps in practice. So as good a player as Reggie is, we cut back his reps a little bit. That doesn't mean Reggie can't play or won't be a factor in these games. But it was just so we could tighten things up a little bit in the passing game. Things were getting too diluted there."

Four Eagles receivers combined to catch 20 of McNabb's 27 completions against the Cardinals. Rookie DeSean Jackson had six, Kevin Curtis and Hank Baskett five each, and Jason Avant, who has started three of the last four games, had four. Jackson and Avant had touchdown catches.

With four touchdown throws and a 121.7 passer rating, McNabb had his best game since the opening-day win over St. Louis. The three previous games, the passing game was awry, leading to McNabb's highly publicized benching at halftime of last week's loss to Baltimore.

Just how much Reid's tightening up the use of the receivers aided McNabb's resurgence is difficult to say. The play-calling was probably a factor. If McNabb had gotten off to yet another slow start, the wolves in the stands no doubt would have begun howling. But the game plan called for receivers to run short, safe routes during the first couple of possessions, enabling McNabb to find an early rhythm.

A good running game can be a quarterback's best friend, so Brian Westbrook's return to form and Reid's willingness to mix the run with the pass kept the Cardinals' defense off balance and made it easier for McNabb to succeed. It was the first game this season the Eagles did more running than passing.

The Eagles' run-pass ratio, which is dramatically tilted toward the pass, is a sensitive subject to Reid, who has been criticized for giving up on the run game too quickly. Asked if that was the case, Reid said: "Yeah, well, you know what? You're probably right."

It was difficult to tell if Reid was making an admission or simply deflecting the question.

"I like efficient balance, so I'm not going to sit there and bang my head against the wall by running the football every snap if I'm not gaining a yard," he said. "At the same time, if we're not throwing the ball well and we're not getting the protection we need and we're running the football well, then we'll run the football more. That's what's so great about this offense. When one thing isn't working, you go to the other. You just have to make sure one thing is working."

Arizona's pass defense should also be taken into account. To put it bluntly, it's not very challenging. The Eagles' blockers controlled the line of scrimmage, holding the Cardinals to one sack and allowing the receivers to break into the open.

What remains to be seen is whether the Eagles' offense can carry the success it had against Arizona into next week's critical game against the NFC East-leading Giants, whose defense won't be nearly as charitable as that of the Cardinals.