Hot Topic and Player Notes: Eagles

Despite giving up 255 rushing yards to the Denver Broncos and allowing both Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell to run for 100 yards, the Eagles' biggest concern defensively going into Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins is the state of their pass defense.

Despite a secondary that features three Pro Bowlers, the Eagles have given up 13 touchdown passes in their last five games, including four Sunday to the Broncos' Jake Plummer. Plummer completed 16 of 22 passes in the first half as the Broncos jumped out to a 28-0 lead.

"We aren't covering well," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "We're giving up touchdown passes. People are getting beat."

Defending the pass has been the least of Johnson's concerns during his seven seasons with the Eagles. Last year, the Eagles gave up just 16 touchdown passes all season. That's just three fewer than they've given up in the last five games.

Since Week 3, opposing quarterbacks have averaged a disturbing 8.04 yards per attempt against the Eagles. In those five games, they've given up 20 pass plays of 20 yards or more, including six Sunday to Plummer and the Broncos.

"We're just giving up too many big plays," Pro Bowl free safety Brian Dawkins said. "Some are blown assignments, mental mistakes. We have to run our defensive gameplan to perfection and we're not doing that."

--The Eagles' offense continues to be ineffective in the first quarter, when the team has been outscored 62-14. They've managed to score on one of their first two possessions of the game just once in seven games.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb has completed just 12 of 35 passes on the Eagles' first two possessions of games. He was 0-for-5 Sunday and 0-for-10 in the first quarter.

"We go into games wanting to start fast," coach Andy Reid said. "But we're not doing a very good job of it."

REPLAY

The Eagles spotted Denver a 28-0 lead, then came roaring back to within seven points, only to fade in the homestretch and lose, 49-21.

The 49 points were the most given up by an Eagles defense since 1972 when they gave up 62 to the New York Giants.

Donovan McNabb continued to struggle. He didn't complete his first pass until 8 minutes into the second quarter and finished with just 12 completions in 34 attempts.

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Lito Sheppard left the game in the first half. He injured his knee in practice during the week and tried playing on it, but was ineffective. He is hopeful of being able to play this week.

--DE Jevon Kearse left the game in the first quarter after injuring his shoulder. He will have an MRI on the shoulder Monday.

--DT Sam Rayburn had to leave Sunday's game in the second half after suffering a stinger. The Eagles are hopeful he'll be able to play this week against Washington.

--QB Donovan McNabb, who is playing with a sports hernia injury, took a lot of hits Sunday. He completed just 12 of 34 passes.

--PK Jose Cortez's debut with the Eagles went well. He didn't have any field-goal attempts, but got most of his kickoffs high and deep.

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