NFL Flashback: McNabb Breaks Fibula Against Cardinals

Kevin McGuireSenior Analyst IJanuary 13, 2009

If you look back on the career of Donovan McNabb, what stands out to you?

Is there a particular game that you will remember that defines his career or one that you will talk about in awe to future generations? I know I have a number of McNabb memories, but the one game I will remember is week 11 in the 2002 season. The Arizona Cardinals came to town and the Eagles won by a score of 38-14, but there is more to that story...

The 2002 Eagles were a team in the right direction. Entering the season as one of the favorites in the NFC and coming off one of the best drafts in franchise history (Brian Westbrook, Lito Shepherd, Michael Lewis, Sheldon Brown, and Raheem Brock) the Eagles had stumbled a couple times but seemed on pace to make a Super Bowl run in their final season in Veterans Stadium. They entered week 11 with a 6-3 record, coming off a humbling loss to the Indianapolis Colts with a 35-13 setback.

Jake Plummer led his Cardinals to the Vet to provide a pesky test for the Eagles as the old division rivals met for the first time following the NFL's division realignment.

Donovan McNabb was having a fine season when on the opening possession for the Eagles, McNabb was taken to the hard Vet turf and came up hobbling. He would stay in the game but his mobility was removed and Andy Reid went wit more of a drop-back style offense, thought to limit McNabb's effectiveness. Instead McNabb had his best game of his young career, throwing for a career high (at the time) four touchdowns and going 20-for-25 passing for 250 yards en route to a victory.

When McNabb came up gingerly on the opening possession the belief was that he had a strained ankle, but following the game it was revealed that McNabb had actually broken his fibula and would be on the injured list for the remainder of the season. The news seemed devastating but Koy Detmer was sent in the following week in San Francisco to fill in.

With Detmer in at quarterback, the rest of the Eagles' roster stepped up their game and dominated the 49ers on the road in a prime-time game. To the angst of Eagles fans everywhere, Detmer would go down in the game and in stepped third-string quarterback AJ Feeley, who would lead the team the rest of the season to the playoffs.

McNabb returned to the team in the division round of the playoffs, using the Eagles' off week in the wild card round to ensure he was ready to go. Questions surrounded McNabb's mobility returning form the injury, but early against the Atlanta Falcons McNabb broke free to run for a first down, running for 19 yards on the play. He rushed four times for a total of 24 yards in the game, leading the team to their second straight NFC Championship game.