MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Donovan McNabb strolled around the Philadelphia locker room with a thin white sleeve on his right leg.
After a vintage performance Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, that’s about the only sign left of a major knee injury that threatened his career nearly 11 months ago.
McNabb threw for 333 yards and a touchdown and showed plenty of the mobility he appeared to have lost post-surgery to lead the Eagles to a 23-16 victory.
“I definitely feel like the burst is coming back,” said McNabb, who displayed nimble feet and even ran a quarterback draw in the second half. “That gives me the opportunity to do a lot of different things that I’m used to.”
The five-time Pro Bowler looked more like the guy who led the Eagles to the Super Bowl three years ago than the tentative veteran who had been hearing calls from those notoriously restless Philly fans to start the Kevin Kolb era.
“His demise, I think, is much over-exaggerated,” said Vikings coach Brad Childress, who spent seven years with McNabb in Philadelphia as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under his longtime friend, Andy Reid.
McNabb took advantage of the league’s worst pass defense, completing 23 of 36 passes and moving around in the pocket like he never had surgery to get his Eagles (3-4) back on track.
Adrian Peterson was bottled up for most of the day by Philadelphia’s sure-tackling, hard-charging defense, rushing for 70 yards on 20 carries.
Without their running back breaking long touchdown runs and down to their No. 3 quarterback, the Vikings (2-5) didn’t have enough to challenge a rejuvenated McNabb.
Reggie Brown caught a career-high eight passes for 105 yards and Brian Westbrook had 92 total yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles, who entered the game having all kinds of problems in the red zone. They scored just six TDs in their first 20 trips inside the 20-yard line this season.
Things went much smoother in the first half Sunday.
McNabb threw a 6-yard shovel pass to Westbrook for the Eagles’ first touchdown in the second quarter, and Westbrook went over the top on a 1-yard run later in the period to give Philadelphia a 17-7 lead.
Once the Vikings cut the lead to 20-16 on a 48-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell in the fourth quarter, McNabb went back to work.
“I’ve just been feeling a change ever since the bye week,” McNabb said.
The Vikings have had problems at quarterback all year, and starter Tarvaris Jackson missed the game with a broken index finger on his throwing hand.
Holcomb got the start, but struggled until he was knocked out of the game with a neck injury in the third quarter.
Brooks Bollinger, who lost the starting job to Jackson in training camp and was demoted again after the Vikings traded for Holcomb in the final week of the preseason, looked capable in his first action this year.
“I thought he did OK in a tough situation,” Childress said. “That guy gets limited reps in practice during the week. … I just wish we could have supported him better.”
Bollinger completed 7 of 10 passes for 94 yards in just under two quarters, but couldn’t get the Vikings into the end zone, a familiar problem during Childress’ 1 1/2 years on the job.
Childress and Reid have known each other for more than 20 years and teamed to mold McNabb into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during their seven years together in Philadelphia.
Things haven’t gone nearly as well for him in Minnesota, where the Vikings offense has become a one-man show.
Childress took plenty of heat for not getting the ball to Peterson more in last week’s loss at Dallas. So Peterson was inserted into the starting lineup and carried the ball 11 times in the first half.
“We just thought we needed to get the touches to him and at least increase that load,” Childress said.
Childress said Holcomb’s injury is “similar to whiplash” and he will be evaluated on Monday, as will WR Bobby Wade (hyperextended knee) and RT Ryan Cook (sprained left shoulder). … WR Greg Lewis (shoulder, ribs) was the only Eagle banged up. … TE Visanthe Shiancoe’s 9-yard score was his first TD reception as a Viking.