Kolb leads Eagles past winless 49ers 27-24By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer Monday, Oct 11, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Although Kevin Kolb(notes) only talks about teamwork and selflessness, the Philadelphia quarterback’s every move at Candlestick Park demonstrated he won’t just give the Eagles’ starting job back to Michael Vick(notes).
Alex Smith is desperate to hold on to his job in San Francisco, too— especially after leading a dynamic late rally that fell just short for the winless 49ers.
Kolb passed for 253 yards while capably filling in for the injured Vick, and Quintin Mikell(notes) returned Smith’s fumble 52 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 27-24 victory Sunday night.
Philadelphia (3-2) scarcely missed a beat with Kolb making his fourth career start in place of Vick, who hurt his ribs in last week’s loss to Washington. The 49ers sacked Kolb four times, but he capably managed the offense during a 21-for-31 performance, hitting tight end Brent Celek(notes) for an early score and leading a late drive for David Akers’(notes) second field goal and the winning points.
“Across the board, I thought we did a good job of matching their intensity and finishing up there in the fourth quarter,” Kolb said. “We made it happen when it counted in every aspect of the game.”
Kolb was the Eagles’ starting quarterback out of training camp, but sat out with a concussion after the opener while Vick was chosen the NFC’s offensive player of the month for September.
Kolb even made a Vick-ian scramble on a third-and-18 play in the third quarter, faking a throw and darting between San Francisco’s tacklers as if they were traffic cones before diving forward for a first down.
“He did it with conviction,” Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. “I thought he stepped and played like we know he can play. The guys have so much confidence in him. Everyone was right with him.”
LeSean McCoy(notes) rushed for 92 yards while playing with a broken rib, and Trevard Lindley(notes) made a last-minute interception for the Eagles, who forced five turnovers and survived San Francisco’s 14-point surge in the final minutes for their fifth straight win over the 49ers (0-5).
McCoy made a 29-yard scoring run shortly before halftime for the Eagles, who stayed even with Washington and the New York Giants atop the NFC East by winning their first three road games of a season for the first time since 2004.
Philadelphia’s defense yielded 364 yards, but repeatedly made big plays to keep the 49ers’ talented offense at a level of high frustration.
“They turned the ball over so much,” McCoy said. “They would drive down the field and couldn’t finish. We just focused on closing the game out, and we counted on our defense to bail us out at the end.”
While Kolb had a fairly smooth night, Smith had perhaps the craziest evening of his six-year career.
The former No. 1 pick passed for 309 yards, but also committed three turnovers that led to thunderous boos from the San Francisco crowd and a tongue-lashing from coach Mike Singletary, who challenged his quarterback to step up as a leader. Smith talked Singletary out of sending in backup David Carr(notes) in the fourth quarter before defiantly leading two scoring drives.
“I’m going to keep on going out there until they tell me I’m not,” Smith said.
After throwing TD passes to Vernon Davis(notes) and Frank Gore(notes), Smith got the 49ers past midfield again in the final minute, but he was hit by Trevor Laws(notes) while making a throw. Lindley intercepted the wobbling pass with 28 seconds to play, and the 49ers dropped to their worst start in 31 years with their third loss this season by three points or fewer.
After Akers missed a 53-yard field goal on the first snap of the fourth quarter, the 49ers drove past midfield before Smith fumbled under pressure from Brandon Graham(notes). Mikell picked up the ball and made an untouched run to the end zone for the first defensive touchdown of his eight-year career.
Gore also fumbled twice near midfield.
When Smith followed his fumble with three incomplete passes on the next series, chants of “We want Carr!” echoed throughout the stadium. After a pep talk from Davis, Smith immediately led a 69-yard scoring drive prominently featuring Davis, who caught a 36-yard pass and a pinpoint 7-yard TD throw with 7:35 to play.
“I think a pretty decent football team is 0-5,” Singletary said. “I’m disappointed for them, because we put ourselves in this situation. Only we can get ourselves out.”