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Eagles go from one Mac to another

| Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- He's fast, elusive and has a strong arm.

Mike McMahon sure is a lot like Donovan McNabb -- minus the five trips to the Pro Bowl, four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.

With McNabb out for the rest of the season after deciding to have surgery for a sports hernia, the North Allegheny graduate gets a chance to revive the Philadelphia Eagles' fading playoff hopes.

A fifth-year pro from Rutgers, McMahon has a difficult task leading an offense that was inconsistent even with McNabb and All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens playing.

The reigning conference champions have lost four straight and are last in the NFC East with a 4-6 record going into Sunday's game against the lowly Green Bay Packers (2-8).

"You never know what is going to happen, the NFL is crazy," McMahon said. "A lot of teams make playoff runs late. As long as we go out there and take one game at a time, do it businesslike, you never know what is going to happen."

In his first start for McNabb, McMahon had a career-best 298 yards passing and one touchdown and ran for a score in a 27-17 loss to the New York Giants last week. He also had a costly interception from the Giants' 33.

McMahon struggled in the first half and wasn't helped by a faulty headset that prevented communication with the sideline early on. However, he came back strong, completing 13-of-23 passes for 217 yards in the final 25 1/2 minutes.

"I expect him to be a little bit more comfortable out there in the offense then he was (against the Giants)," coach Andy Reid said. "He was thrown a couple curveballs in the beginning of that game with the headset going out, and so on, so his first half was a little bit shaky. But he settled down in that second half. Now, you can expect to see him build on what we saw in that second half."

The mobile McMahon made plays with his legs, running for 31 yards, including a nifty 12-yard run for a first down. His scrambling ability is similar to the way McNabb used to hurt defenses with his running before injuries forced him to stay in the pocket more this season.

"Once he calmed down, you saw what he could do," safety Brian Dawkins said of McMahon. "We knew what he could do with the athleticism he has. Those plays, although they were jaw-dropping, we knew he could do those things. He did them in the preseason and in camp, so we understood what he could do as a quarterback. We feel like we can win every one of these last games, but we can't even talk about that until we win this next one."

McMahon was a fifth-round pick by Detroit in 2001. In four seasons with the Lions, he started just seven games, had a 43.8 completion percentage with 10 TDs and 13 interceptions. McMahon also ran for 273 yards on 46 carries.

The Eagles signed McMahon last offseason as a third-string quarterback behind McNabb and Koy Detmer. However, when McNabb went down in a 21-20 loss to Dallas on Nov. 14, McMahon came in for the final series and nearly led the Eagles to a win.

"He's settled in pretty well," offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "He gets the whole week of work with the game plan and knowing exactly where he is going. I mentioned last week about the speed of the game, he has to regroove himself there and that is an every-week process."

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