Feeley led a pair of second-half scoring drives after McNabb sprained his right ankle, Brian Westbrook had a career-best 148 yards rushing and the Eagles beat Miami 17-7 on Sunday, dropping the Dolphins to 0-10.
Considering McNabb struggled in the first half and many in Philadelphia have called for his benching this season, the stage was set for a quarterback controversy.
Coach Andy Reid immediately squelched it.
“If Donovan’s healthy, he’s the quarterback,” Reid said.
McNabb got hurt in the second quarter, nearly a full year after his season ended with a torn knee ligament. X-rays were negative, and McNabb stood on the sideline for the second half.
“It’s a little sore. I’ll be fine,” McNabb said. “Could I have played? I don’t think so.”
McNabb played a full game after breaking the same ankle in a game in November 2002. He missed the rest of that regular season, the first of three times he went down for the season in mid-November.
“I’m going to make sure I’m right to get back out there,” he said.
Led by Feeley, the Eagles (5-5) won consecutive games and improved to .500 for the first time. They moved within one game of Detroit (6-4) for the final playoff spot in the NFC.
Meanwhile, the lowly Dolphins moved closer toward becoming the first team to finish 0-16. Tampa Bay went 0-14 in 1976.
“I’m tired of searching for a positive. We need to win a game,” guard Rex Hadnot said.
With McNabb playing cheerleader, Feeley finally got the offense going on the first drive of the second half.
Feeley completed all three of his passes for 41 yards, including a 17-yard toss to Kevin Curtis on third-and-7 to the Miami 13. After an offside negated Feeley’s fumble, Correll Buckhalter ran in from the 8 for a 10-7 lead.
Feeley connected with Jason Avant on a 4-yard TD pass to make it 17-7 early in the fourth period.
A goal-line stand preserved the 10-point lead. The Dolphins had a first down at the 1, but didn’t move any closer after two runs and a pass. Then defensive end Juqua Thomas, starting for the benched Jevon Kearse, stopped Jesse Chatman for a 13-yard loss on fourth down.
The Eagles took over with just under seven minutes left and Miami didn’t get the ball again until the final minute.
Feeley finished 13-for-19 for 116 yards, one TD and one interception. Westbrook, who was questionable after missing two practices with swelling in his knee, had a career-best 32 carries. His previous high in yards was 141 against the Giants in a playoff game last January, and his most carries were 26 against Dallas last December.
“Sometimes we make it harder than it has to be,” Westbrook said.
Feeley beat his former team in his second stint with the Eagles. He was 4-1 as a starter in the last five regular-season games in ’02, helping Philly clinch first place in the NFC after McNabb and Koy Detmer were injured.
He was traded to Miami in 2004 for a second-round draft pick. Feeley was 3-5 in eight starts with the Dolphins and was traded to San Diego after 1 1/2 seasons in Miami. He returned to the Eagles last season as the No. 3 quarterback.
“I know my role on this team,” Feeley said. “It doesn’t mean I don’t have personal ambitions, but I know my role and it’s to be the backup quarterback.”
The Dolphins went ahead 7-0 early in the second quarter when Ginn broke free. Ginn eluded one tackler, ran up the middle untouched, cut toward the right sideline and sprinted into the end zone.
David Akers kicked a 34-yard field goal one play after McNabb went down to cut it to 7-3.
Feeley came in the next series and drove Philadelphia to the Dolphins 25, but he was intercepted by Andre Goodman at the 2.
A holding penalty by tight end L.J. Smith negated McNabb’s 46-yard TD pass to Reggie Brown off a flea-flicker in the first quarter. The drive ended when McNabb’s pass to Brown was intercepted by Jason Allen at the Dolphins 5. Allen picked off McNabb again at Miami’s 2 in the second quarter.
A second-round pick, Beck replaced Cleo Lemon as Miami’s starter. Trent Green started the first four games before going down for the season. Beck was the 12th QB to start for the Dolphins since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season.
“There were a few plays I would like to have back,” Beck said. “But the good thing was I did feel comfortable out there. I felt like there was chemistry in the huddle.”
^Notes: Kearse, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was inactive for the first time since returning from a knee injury that ended his season after two games last year. … Miami had three interceptions in the first half after getting just five in the first nine games.