Final Score: Philadelphia 30, Denver 27
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - David Akers nailed a 28-yard field goal
with four seconds left in the game, as the Eagles overcame blowing a 17-point
lead in the second half to hold off Denver, 30-27, in a matchup packed with
far-reaching playoff implications.
Donovan McNabb passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns with an interception,
completing 20-of-35 throws.
Brent Celek caught four passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, while DeSean
Jackson and Jason Avant also had receiving scores for Philadelphia (11-4),
which secured an invitation to the playoffs with last Sunday's victory over
The Eagles could have clinched the NFC East with a Dallas loss to Washington
in Sunday's nightcap. But the Cowboys thoroughly dominated the 'Skins in a
17-0 final to set up a winner-take-all scenario for the division title next
Sunday in Dallas. Philadelphia can also clinch a first-round bye with a
single Minnesota loss and a victory over the Cowboys.
Kyle Orton threw three touchdown passes and an interception during a 189-yard
passing effort. He finished 27-of-41 passing, with two of his scores going to
Jabar Gaffney, who made seven grabs for 69 yards.
Knowshon Moreno had the other receiving touchdown, and Brandon Marshall caught
eight passes for 39 yards for Denver (8-7), whose playoff chances diminish
with each passing week. Losses in seven of the last nine games have placed the
Broncos' once-certain chances of reaching the playoffs in clear jeopardy.
The defeat further muddled the AFC's wild card picture; Denver is now tied
with the Jets, Houston, Pittsburgh and Baltimore at 8-7 with two spots up for
The Broncos will need help next week, as they no longer control their own
destiny. Miami and Jacksonville remain a game back and are still in
mathematical contention heading into the final week of the regular season.
The game also featured the return of an Eagles icon to Philadelphia, as Brian
Dawkins faced his former team for the first time since signing to anchor
Denver's secondary in the offseason. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection logged
a team-high eight tackles in the loss.
"It was real-real nerve-racking. I was trying to control my emotions -- it was
real tough for this game," said Dawkins. "Once the ball was snapped, it was
about football. Period."
After Denver completed its comeback from down 27-10 to tie the game at 27 on a
Matt Prater field goal with 6:05 remaining, the Eagles defense forced a Denver
punt and got the ball back on the Denver 42 with 1:41 to play. McNabb
completed a key 27-yard pass along the left sideline to Jeremy Maclin on
second down to gain the Broncos' 13-yard line. The play was initially ruled
incomplete, but a review overturned the call with 59 seconds to go.
"It was a great throw and an even better catch -- a phenomenal catch," Eagles
coach Andy Reid said of McNabb and Maclin's crucial connection. "I was
standing right next to it. That's a tough, tough call there. But that's why we
have the replay."
Philadelphia then ran three plays to position Akers, who split the uprights to
give the Eagles their sixth straight win. Philadelphia last won six a row from
November 15-December 19 of its NFC Championship campaign of 2004.
A McNabb interception to start the second half led to Denver points, as Prater
was true from 33 yards away less than five minutes in for a 20-10 game.
Undeterred, Philadelphia answered with an 80-yard scoring drive that was kept
alive by two Denver penalties on third down. The latter of those set up the
Birds at the Broncos' 15, where Avant hauled in a tipped pass while falling
across the goal-line for a 27-10 lead with about seven minutes to go.
"It seems like we are going through growing pains at the wrong time of the
year," said Dawkins. "Too many mistakes. At the end of the day it's a loss and
we handed them a lot of things."
Denver's next drive was cut short when Asante Samuel undercut Orton's deep
ball up the right sideline and returned the pick to midfield. However, an
unnecessary roughness infraction was levied on Philadelphia during the return,
placing the ball at the one.
Three plays went nowhere, and the Broncos' turned good field position into a
quick seven points on Orton's seven-yard TD strike to Gaffney. Denver turned
the game on its head by adding a second touchdown inside a minute to get to
within three at 27-24.
Macho Harris was hammered on the ensuing kickoff by Darrell Reid and coughed
it up to the Broncos at the 16. Orton wasted little time in hitting Moreno on
a short pass over the middle, and the rookie back scampered into the end zone
just before the close of the quarter.
The Eagles offense continued to sputter with a pair of three-and-outs to begin
the fourth quarter. Denver also had trouble moving the ball early on but did
enough to get Prater in position for a 46-yard field goal on its third turn
with the ball -- tying the game at 27 with close to six minutes remaining.
The Broncos survived an overturned Eagles defensive touchdown on their
opening offensive series. It was initially ruled Orton threw a backwards pass
behind the line of scrimmage, with Dimitri Patterson scooping it up for a 23-
The play was reversed after an official review, but Denver still found
themselves down 7-0 shortly thereafter. McNabb was sacked and fumbled it away
to the Broncos on Philadelphia's first series, but the visitors did nothing
On their next possession, however, the Eagles marched 61 yards in six plays,
with McNabb finding Jackson for a two-yard TD across the middle. Philadelphia
then drove down to the Denver 21 just before the end of the quarter, and Akers
made it a 10-0 game on a 39-yard field goal.
Denver shaved nearly six minutes off the clock with a solid 70-yard scoring
drive to start the second quarter. The Broncos converted a 4th-and-1 at the
Eagles' 16 and three third downs -- including Orton's 11-yard scoring strike
to Gaffney on the 12th play of the series.
The Eagles came right back with a quick score to make it a 17-7 contest, with
McNabb connecting with Celek for a 47-yard touchdown. Philadelphia again drove
deep into Denver territory at the close of the quarter, and Akers' 45-yard
boot gave the hosts a 20-7 lead at halftime.
The Eagles are now an impressive 15-3 in December games since 2006 and 32-13
all-time for the month under Reid's direction...Brian Westbrook returned from
a five-game absence due to concussion symptoms and ran nine times for 32
yards. He added two catches for five yards...Running back Correll Buckhalter,
who spent eight seasons with the Eagles before also joining Denver in the
offseason, had 42 yards on five carries along with two grabs for 12 yards in
his return...Jackson and Celek both had four catches, while Maclin had a team-
high six receptions for 92 yards...Samuel logged his ninth interception of the
season, the most by a Philadelphia player since Bill Bradley in 1971...Gaffney
caught his first two TDs of the year...Elvis Dumervil recorded two sacks to
set a Broncos' franchise record with 17 this year...Eagles center Jamal
Jackson sustained a knee sprain and will have an MRI exam on Monday.
12/27 23:52:13 ET
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