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Westbrook sets Eagles’ records in finale

Anyone who has ever watched Brian Westbrook run with a football knows he's in a terrific hurry to get to where he's going.

Anyone who has ever watched Brian Westbrook run with a football knows he's in a terrific hurry to get to where he's going.

So it seemed appropriate that the self described little man from Villanova wasted no time becoming the most prolific running back for a single season than any in the wacky 75-year history of the Eagles.

The first time Westbrook took a handoff from quarterback Donovan McNabb during today's 17-9 win over Buffalo in a dreary season finale at Lincoln Financial Field, he cut off tackle for a 10-yard gain to break Wilbert Montgomery's team record of 2,006 yards from scrimmage.

Moments later, after the giant video boards notified the fans of Westbrook's accomplishment, they gave him a standing ovation. It was the most noise they made all day because it turned out to be the only reason for them to get stirred up at a game that had no other significance.

Early in the second quarter, Westbrook got a step on strong safety Bryan Scott, who played at Penn State and Central Bucks East High School, and hauled in a 30-yard pass near the sideline to take ownership of another team record. It was his 89th catch of the season, breaking Irving Fryar's mark of 88 set in 1996.

Before he took nearly the entire second half off to rest his balky knee, Westbrook ended the season with an NFL best 2,104 yards from scrimmage -- 1,333 yards rushing and 771 yards on 90 receptions. He averaged 5.7 yards each time he touched the ball. Yesterday, he averaged nine yards a touch. Ricky Watters was the last Eagles to lead the league in yards from scrimmage in 1996.

"It feels good," Westbrook said of the records. "It feels good to combine those with a win. It definitely feels very good."

Those numbers not only speak to Westbrook's value, they also answer a questions that have followed him through much of his six-year career. Questions about his ability to hold up under the constant pounding runners absorb.

In past seasons, Westbrook often bristled at suggestions he might not be able to survive a heavy workload. He wanted the chance to show he could. This season, he got that chance, averaging nearly 25 touches a game. He missed one game with a pulled abdominal muscle.

Westbrook had 368 touches this season. His previous high was 317 last season.

"I definitely enjoyed it [the workload]," he said. "I always want the opportunity to have the ball in my hands to do the things I know I can do. I can make people miss. I can make plays. I can run inside. I can run outside. I can catch the ball. I'm glad I got the chance this year."

Running backs in the NFL have short shelf lives. Westbrook has already lasted longer than the average running back, yet he believes he can continue to handle the load in the future.

"I think so," he said. "My body feels good. I've got that nagging knee, but other than that my body feels pretty good. I feel as though I can touch the ball 350 times a season and be good. I'll go into the off-season and work on strengthening my legs and my knee."

A consummate team player, Westbrook not only credited his offensive line, he bought each one of them vacation packages.

"It's pretty sweet," guard Shawn Andrews said. "So we are definitely going to take advantage. He gave us a set amount to any destination we choose. To get the yards he's gotten, which is partly due to us, but mostly because of him, he is phenomenal. It speaks a lot."

Westbrook said he knew he could have a 2,000-yard season, but he never imagined that if he did his team would finish 8-8 and not make the playoffs.

"I would definitely have been shocked to see that I had all those yards and my team didn't do well," he said. "I need to give a little bit more and the team needs to give a little bit more so that we can have more success.

"It is disappointing. You want to have a good season when your team is doing well. It usually happens that way."

Instead, the way it happened was that Westbrook, also a superb blocker, was the best all-around back in the NFL this season. While the Eagles must deal with off-season questions, Westbrook answered the one about him.