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Eagles go marching over Saints, 38-23

A seven-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Curtis and an interception by Stewart Bradley sealed a 38-23 Eagles win in New Orleans.

A seven-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Curtis and an interception by Stewart Bradley sealed the deal in a 38-23 Eagles win over the Saints in New Orleans.

Curtis' score, his second of the game, finished a nine-play, 56-yard drive that included six completions by Donovan McNabb. The Birds' defense then finished the game off when Bradley intercepted a Drew Brees pass at the Saints' 37 with just over two minutes left.

McNabb finished the day having completed 24 of 35 attempts for 263 yards and three touchdown passes. He spread the ball around, connecting with seven different Eagles over the course of the game. Kevin Curtis (78 yards) and Reggie Brown (73 yards) were his most frequent targets with six receptions each.

Brian Westbrook had another strong day, carrying the ball 17 times for 100 yards. But Correll Buckhalter had the most spectacular run, a 20-yard dash up the middle for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees also had a big game, completing 30 of 45 attempts for 289 yards. But none of those passes were for touchdowns.

The Eagles' defense held the Saints to 66 net rushing yards. Aaron Stecker accounted for 49 of them on 13 carries, including a long of 26 yards. He scored both of the Saints' touchdowns in the game.

Before Curtis' game-sealer, field goals from 46 yards and 35 yards by the Saints' Martin Gramatica had cut the Eagles' lead over the Saints to one possession, 31-23.

But the big series of the game was a fourth-down goal line stand that led to a 98-yard Eagles touchdown drive.

After going into the locker room up 24-17, the Eagles kicked off to start the second half. Saints quarterback Drew Brees took his team down the field right away, mixing passes with some big runs by Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker.

On first and goal, a short Brees pass to David Patten from the 7-yard line was stopped at the goal line. New Orleans coach Sean Payton challenged the call, arguing that the ball had crossed the plane, but the replay proved the initial call correct and Payton lost a timeout. With the ball on the one-yard line, the Eagles' defense held firm and and stopped three straight Saints runs.

After Bradley and Quentin Mikell stopped Saints running back Aaron Stecker on fourth down, Donovan McNabb led the Eagles all the way down the field for a score. The seven-minute, 15-play drive included seven complete passes by McNabb, including a nine-yard throw to Greg Lewis for the touchdown.

Martin Grammatica capped off a wild first half with a 55-yard field goal as time expired. Grammatica took the kick with the clock still running, after J.R. Reed almost knocked the Saints out of field goal range by hitting Pierre Thomas for a seven-yard loss on the previous play.

Thomas was in the game because of a leg injury suffered by Stecker earlier in the quarter. Stecker was starting in the absence of injured Saints star Reggie Bush.

After a first quarter that featured five touchdowns, Grammatica and David Akers had one field goal apiece for the only points of the second quarter.

Akers' 24-yard kick culminated an 11-play drive that lasted five minutes, 21 seconds, as the game began to slow down after the frenetic first 15 minutes.

With 1:58 left in the first quarter, a 31-yard strike from Donovan McNabb to Reggie Brown gave the Eagles their third touchdown of the day and a 21-14 lead.

It was another big play in a game full of them for both teams, including a 29-yard catch-and-run by Eagles rookie tight end Brent Celek earlier in the drive.

The other four touchdowns all came within the first ten minutes of the game.

After going down 14-7, the Eagles responded witha 20-yard Correll Buckhalter touchdown run right up the middle of the Saints' defense.

The six-play drive to take the lead back, which lasted just over three minutes, was the first quarter's longest by almost a minute.

A botched handoff between Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook led to a turnover deep in Saints territory, and New Orleans had no trouble taking advantage for the 14-7 lead.

The Saints took the ball on the Eagles' 33-yard line. After two Drew Brees passes and a holding penalty on Mike Patterson, New Orleans running back Aaron Stecker took the ball up the middle on consecutive plays and got over the line on the second attempt.

It took Philadelphia just three plays to score a touchdown, but the Saints needed just four to tie the game at 7-7.

The Eagles took a 7-0 lead over host New Orleans just three plays into the game, as Donovan McNabb fumbled the ball after a 40-yard run and Kevin Curtis picked it up in the end zone.

On just the third play of the game's first drive, McNabb raced from the Eagles' 36-yard line to the Saints' 24, then was hit and lost the football. The ball rolled all the way to the 2-yard line, where Kevin Curtis scooped it up and took it over the goal line.

Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie sprained his right knee on the play. McKenzie walked on his own to the locker room for treatment, but Saints officials said his return was doubtful.

But Brees took New Orleans right back down the field. After starting at their own 34-yard line, Brees fired passes of 52, seven and three yards, then gave the ball to Aaron Stecker for a three-yard touchdown run.

Brian Westbrook and Reggie Brown started for the Eagles today at a raucous Superdome, while tight ends L.J. Smith and Matt Schobel were among eight inactive Philadelphia players. The Saints also had eight inactive players, including running back Reggie Bush.

It was Smith's second straight missed game due to a knee injury suffered against the Giants, while Schobel was out due to a concussion. That gave rookie Brent Celek the starting tight end spot, and a chance to prove his worth to the team.

Shawn Andrews also didn't play today because of the sprained MCL suffered at Dallas last weekend.

The other Eagles inactives were quarterback Kevin Kolb, defensive back Marcus Paschal, guard Scott Young, defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey and defensive end Montae Reagor.

In addition to Bush, the Saints' inactives included wide receiver Robert Meachem, cornerback Fred Thomas, linebacker Marvin Mitchell, guard Andy Allerman, offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, tight end Eric Johnson and defensive tackle Orien Harris.