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Sunday's five most valuable players: Return of the Mac

Shutdown Corner

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Donovan McNabb(notes), QB, Philadelphia Eagles. It's nice to have you back, Mac. With a healthy set of ribs, Donovan McNabb re-entered the lineup for the Eagles yesterday, and he did what he does: 264 yards, three touchdowns, and a nearly-perfect quarterback rating of 157.2. He also made an overnight superstar of rookie wideout Jeremy Maclin(notes), who caught six of the eight balls thrown his way for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He's one of the league's best, the Eagles are a different team when he's under center, and the NFL is a better place when he's healthy.

Miles Austin(notes), WR, Dallas Cowboys. Roy Williams, on the other hand, can feel free to take his time getting healthy. Miles Austin has got this. Miles went bananas against the Chiefs yesterday, including the game-winner in overtime, on a play in which he really had no business scoring. What started out as a nice little hookup between Romo and Miles on the sideline turned into maybe the play of the day. The Cowboys had 498 total yards yesterday. Miles had 250 of them.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(notes), CB, Arizona Cardinals. I was almost certain that the Texans were going to win that game yesterday. Andre Johnson(notes) and Matt Schaub(notes) found their groove, and the Cardinals were powerless against them in the second half. Everything was snowballing in their direction, and then one man makes one play, and everything changes. Schaub was looking for Kevin Walter(notes) along the right sideline, and Rodgers-Cromartie just anticipated the route, broke on it, closed the gap with a quickness, and high-stepped his way to the go-ahead score.

Carson Palmer(notes), QB, Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer is having a delightfully weird season. For about three-and-a-half quarters a game, he plays football that's mediocre at best. His quarterback rating on the year is sub 80, which puts him behind non-legends such as Shaun Hill(notes), Kevin Kolb(notes) and Seneca Wallace(notes). When the game's on the line in the fourth quarter, though, he's going to make it happen. Yesterday's strike to Andre Caldwell(notes) made it his third game-winning drive of the season, and it would be four, if not for the Brandon Stokley(notes) miracle in Week 1. When he starts playing anywhere near his potential in the first three quarters of games, the Bengals could be scary.

Cedric Benson(notes), RB, Cincinnati Bengals. If someone had said to me in 2006 that the Ravens were about to embark on a 39-game streak in which they would not give up a 100-yard rusher, and also told me that that streak would eventually be broken by the Bengals, with Cedric Benson as their star running back ... I don't think I'd have believed them. The streak (misleading as it may have been) was indeed killed yesterday. No disrespect to Carson Palmer intended, but the bigger reason that the Bengals are winning games is that Cedric Benson has matured into one of the league's best running backs.

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