Westbrook saves the Day for Struggling Birds


By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

LANDOVER, Md.—Out of all the things that have gone wrong for the Philadelphia Eagles this season from special teams gaffes to getting blown out by the Dallas Cowboys last, the play of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.

If you examine the stat sheets after an Eagles win or loss, Westbrook’s numbers whether he’s running the football or catching it out of the backfield, are always among the team leaders. At various times throughout Westbrook’s tenure in Philadelphia, he has had made that one game-changing plays that put the Birds over the top.

Every Eagles fan remembers his 84-yard punt return for a touchdown against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands in 2003 that not only help the Birds to come up with the win, but sparked them to a division title and a berth in the NFC title game. Coming into that game, the Eagles were 2-3 and in danger of having their season go by the wayside.

Last year in a loss to Tampa Bay, he scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass to get the Eagles back in the game. It took an improbable 62-yard field goal to beat the Birds in that game.

While the 2007 season for the 4-5 Eagles is still on life support, Westbrook’s big 57-yard touchdown pass that gave Philadelphia a 33-25 over the Washington Redskins Sunday at FedEx Field could be one of those plays that could get their season back on track.

“I hope so because we’re at the point now where we have to go and win seven games in a row to get where we want to go,” Westbrook said. “We have the guys that are capable of doing it. We’re going to go to work everyday this week to get things turned around.”

Westbrook said his touchdown reception was similar to his big return in 2003 from the stand point of his teammates giving him the daylight he needed to make the play.

“When you look at it in certain ways it does because on that play (2003) you had a team going out and perfecting a play, you had 10 other guys working to get things done,” Westbrook said. “This play here was another team where I had 10 guys in front of me out there trying their best to get me into the end zone.”

Washington was leading 25-20 with a little over three minutes left when Donovan McNabb caught the Skins in a blitz and found Westbrook, who got two huge blocks from guard Shawn Andrews and tackle Jon Runyan. The former Villanova took advantage of the daylight provided by his teammates and waltzed into the end zone untouched.

“He’s a playmaker, he’s one of the top backs in the league hands down,” said Eagles tight end L.J. Smith. “He’s a leader, he’s definitely emerged as a vocal leader more so in the last two years. I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Westbrook was playing with a heavy heart on Sunday because 24 hours earlier he attended the funeral of his uncle, William “Tony” Torney who helped guide and raise him as a young man. He dedicated the game and his effort to his uncle.

In the win over the Redskins, Westbrook had 183 yards of total offense-100-yards rushing, 83 yards passing and he scored two touchdowns. Outside of the quarterback, he’s the only legitimate weapon the Eagles have on a team full of second-tier talent at the skill positions.

“I’ve had an opportunity to see it first hand for a couple of years now,” said McNabb. “The guy is continuing to come into his own. He’s not just recognized locally, he’s recognized nationally. He’s guy that’s in a class with a LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of those guys who can do it in the run game and the passing game. He can pick up blitzers and can help in the passing game. I’m excited to have him on my team because we can do so many things with him.”

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