PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Donovan McNabb completed a touchdown pass, ran toward the sideline, stopped, raised his arms, looked toward the crowd and soaked in their applause.
It had been awhile since McNabb heard cheers.
McNabb completed 17 of 23 passes for 141 yards and one TD, and Correll Buckhalter ran for 100 yards and two TDs, leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 24-17 victory over the New York Jets in Chad Pennington’s return Sunday.
“We knew what we’re capable of,” McNabb said. “Everything you saw today was just a sign of the offense we can have.”
Pennington, playing for the first time since breaking his left wrist Aug. 23 in a preseason game against the New York Giants, was 14-of-23 for 154 yards and one costly interception.
His desperation pass from Philadelphia’s 42 fell incomplete as the Eagles (4-3) won for the fourth time in five games.
“For the most part he was a little bit rusty,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said. “He did some good things. He moved the team. He didn’t hurt us.”
Vinny Testaverde led the Jets to 10 points in three possessions before giving way to Pennington in the second quarter. Testaverde finished 7-of-11 for 112 yards and one touchdown, a 60-yard toss to Santana Moss on a perfectly executed flea flicker.
Curtis Martin had 110 yards rushing for the Jets (2-5).
“I didn’t try to talk him into letting me stay in,” Testaverde said. “I knew going in what the plan was. Did I want to stay in? Yes, but it’s not my decision.”
McNabb, heavily criticized for his poor performance this season, threw a 4-yard TD pass to Jon Ritchie, giving the Eagles a 21-17 lead with 6:42 left.
A three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, McNabb came in with the lowest passer rating (51.1) and completion percentage (47.9) in the NFL. But playing without tape on his injured right thumb for the first time since hurting it against Buffalo on Sept. 28, McNabb looked more like the quarterback that went to Hawaii the last three years.
He made crisp passes, quick decisions and led the Eagles into the end zone on their first two possessions.
“I felt a whole lot better, but I’m still not 100 percent,” McNabb said. “I was able to have a better grip.”
Michael Lewis set up the go-ahead touchdown by intercepting Pennington and returning it 23 yards to Philadelphia’s 43. Pennington carried out a play-action fake beautifully, but badly underthrew Moss.
“The game came down to one play and I didn’t make the play,” Pennington said. “He made a great play. I made a bad throw.”
Seven plays later, McNabb connected with Ritchie for just his third TD pass of the season. Duce Staley set up the score with an 18-yard run to New York’s 4.
David Akers made it 24-17 on a 30-yard field goal with 1:12 left.
Edwards planned to ease Pennington back into action by letting Testaverde play the first few series. But Pennington entered with the Jets starting a drive at their own 8, and he led them to Philadelphia’s 20 before Moss fumbled after a short pass.
Pennington led the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating and 68.9 completion percentage last year, and helped the Jets win the AFC East after replacing Testaverde following a 1-3 start.
After Aaron Beasley intercepted McNabb and returned it 25 yards to Philadelphia’s 49, the Jets took a 17-14 lead on a 4-yard TD run by Jordan in the final minute of the third quarter.
Akers was short on a 55-yard field goal attempt that would have tied it early in the fourth.
Buckhalter ran in from 6 yards out to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead on their first possession. McNabb completed all three of his passes for 27 yards on the drive, and received a mock ovation from fans after his 8-yard pass to Chad Lewis on the first offensive play.
After Testaverde’s TD pass to Moss gave the Jets a 10-7 lead, Buckhalter scored on a 7-yard TD run to put Philadelphia ahead 14-10.
Jets defensive end John Abraham had 3 1/2 sacks, all in the first half. He leftthe game with a right groin strain and his status is uncertain.
Eagles RB/returner Brian Westbrook left the game with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. DT Hollis Thomas tore a biceps tendon late in the game. His status is uncertain. … The Eagles were without Pro Bowl cornerback Bobby Taylor (foot), All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins (foot) and Pro Bowl guard Jermane Mayberry (elbow). … Jets DE Shaun Ellis had a sack in his 10th consecutive game, a team record. … Akers’ miss was his first in only seventries this year. The Eagles had gone 13 quarters with attempting a FG.