SAN DIEGO - It was not a postgame topic for conversation, given that the Eagles were on the short end of a 31-23 score, but quarterback Donovan McNabb put up some huge numbers in defeat.

McNabb completed 35 of 55 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second 400-yard passing day of his career. The other came on Dec. 5, 2004, against Green Bay. The 35 completions also tied a career record for McNabb, set in 2005 against the Chargers.

"The pass was there for us - that's why we were so effective today in the pass," McNabb said. "We were clicking. When you're hot with something, you stay with it. And that's what we did."

There have been times this year when it seemed as if McNabb was holding the ball too long, but not yesterday. Well-protected, he showed a great rhythm and showed it early - drop back, quick scan, release. It was really nice to watch as the Eagles moved the ball up and down the field - especially in the fourth quarter, when they closed the deficit from 28-9 to 28-23.

The problem was in the red zone, where the Eagles settled for field goals three times in five trips.

"Coming out with field goals, when you have those opportunities to score, we have to pound it in there," McNabb said. "We definitely tried, and credit to them - they stopped us from running the ball into the end zone. We tried to pass one time and it just wasn't on. But credit to them for just bearing down and stopping us.

"We did fight back in the second half, just ran out of time a little bit. But you can't play games like this - mistakes, penalties, starting late. That's usually what happens"

Later, he added, "When you drive all the way down there and third-and-2 and you don't get it, or third-and-1, it's a situation where we need to find an answer quick for. In that situation, we gave them too much credit. We have to capitalize on those opportunities. We had an opportunity. We just didn't."

McNabb was asked about running back Brian Westbrook, who suffered another concussion in the game. McNabb said it would be a big loss for the team if Westbrook were to miss significant time.

"Veteran leadership is something that we don't have that much of," McNabb said. "For the guys that are out there, we're trying to get the young guys going a little bit. But the young guys have to step up at this time. This is the time, later in the year, where you're calling on them to do a lot of different things. We're going to call on [LeSean] McCoy to do a lot of different things. Now we're bringing [Eldra] Buckley in and [Leonard] Weaver as well. They've got to step up."

The overall message?

"The message for me, to kind of spread to the team, is that you saw what we have," McNabb said. "For our offense to get going the way it did, and what we can do, that says a lot for us. Yet, still . . . we have to make sure everybody is on the same page and doing the right thing individually. Then, we score touchdowns." *