There were three interceptions in the first half of last night's Eagles-Browns game at Lincoln Financial Field, which would seem like a mundane observation if they hadn't been three of the most entertaining plays of a matchup that wasn't very competitive.

On one of them, Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel came suspiciously close to flipping the ball to the ground before he crossed the goal line.

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It was reminiscent of the bonehead play by rookie DeSean Jackson against Dallas early in the season, also on a Monday night. The play was challenged, and the touchdown overturned. What would have been the first touchdown of the rookie's career was nullified.

This time, however, Samuel hustled to retrieve the ball deep in the end zone, as if he was thinking, "Uh-oh."

"I guess I didn't quite get in,"Samuel said. "I dropped the ball, then picked it up, then secured my touchdown. I was thinking I was about to mess up my touchdown. I was thinking about my celebration a little too much."

Crennel has enough on his mind, such as where he might be working next season.

"Asante had a nice pick, but you have to cross the goal line with the football," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Guilty or not, Samuel's touchdown gave the Eagles a 17-3 lead in the second quarter, a lead that immediately appeared to be insurmountable considering the inept Browns offense.

Including playoffs when he was with New England, he has returned seven interceptions for touchdowns since 2003.

One of the interceptions was thrown by Donovan McNabb, who tried a fade pattern to Hank Baskett on second and goal from the 1-yard line. The Eagles were probably throwing because they had no time-outs remaining in the half and there were nine seconds to go when McNabb took the snap.

Probably. With Reid, you never know for sure.

Anyway, cornerback Brandon McDonald stepped in front of Baskett 5 yards deep in the end zone and raced 98 yards down the sideline. It's not often a guy runs 98 yards with a pick and doesn't score a touchdown. Last season during a playoff game against the Patriots, Denver's Champ Bailey went 100 yards with an interception and didn't score.

McDonald, who shook off a tackle by Brian Westbrook, was hauled down from behind by Baskett at the Eagles' 7-yard line. It was a great effort by Baskett, who raced about 100 yards to make a touchdown-saving tackle that could have chopped the Eagles' lead to 17-10.

The Browns never got to take advantage of the interception. It was the final play of the half as time ran out.

The interception thrown by Jackson came off a questionable call. The Eagles had third and goal from the 7-yard line, and their offense was humming along with a good balance between the run and the pass. McNabb was on target. Yet, the Eagles went into the Wildcat formation - which, by the way, didn't work for either team.

The snap went to Jackson, whose pass, intended for Baskett, was intercepted by Sean Jones. At the time, the Eagles led, 10-3, but Samuel got the lead back with his interception on the Browns' next possession.

In the third quarter, Stewart Bradley picked off a Ken Dorsey pass, which was notable because it was the first interception by an Eagles linebacker this season.

As far as the Browns' McDonald was concerned, justice was served when he intercepted Kevin Kolb in the fourth quarter and went 24 yards for Cleveland's only touchdown of the night.

As if to vent his frustration from his 98-yard run to nowhere, McDonald somersaulted into the end zone. But by then, the outcome had been long decided.

As expected, it was a routine win for the Eagles, but there was nothing routine about three of the interceptions.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.