The opening drives were very similar, the difference being that the Eagles got a pretty 14-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Curtis at the end of theirs, and the Browns got a third-down drop from Darnell Dinkins and a 27-yard Phil Dawson field goal. The Eagles drove 64 yards in eight plays, the Browns 63 yards in nine.
The Eagles' next drive went 51 yards on 12 plays; the Browns snapped a streak of four successive Eagles third down conversions when they got pressure on McNabb on third and goal from the 6, and he couldn't hit L.J. Smith in the back of the end zone, McNabb throwing across his body while rolling away. David Akers' 24-yard field goal made it 10-3 Eagles with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Updating: The Eagles' third drive should have yielded points, but Andy Reid's love of trickery intruded. On third and goal from the Browns' 7, the Birds lined up in their wildcat formation. Now, it's unlikely DeSean Jackson is going to try to run it in from the 7. So Cleveland did not look shocked when Jackson tried to pass it softly (softly!) across the middle. Sean Jones intercepted.
But it was all good six plays later, when Chris Clemons pressured Ken Dorsey, and Dorsey threw the ball to Asante Samuel. Samuel ran the pick 50 yards for a touchdown and a 17-3 lead. Actually, he seemed to continue an Eagles Monday Night Football tradition, started by Jackson at Dallas, of inexplicably flipping the ball just short of the goal line, but at least he flipped it ahead, unlike Jackson, and then he ran over to it and grabbed it. Here at Eagletarian rulebook central, opinions are divided on whether that was kosher.
In any case, the Browns didn't challenge.
The Eagles just threw away more points. Third and goal from the 2, nine seconds left in the half, no timeouts remaining, McNabb tried to throw a fade to Hank Baskett, who was tightly covered by Brandon McDonald. McDonald got position and the pick, 5 yards deep in the end zone. He had nothing but yard markers in front of him, and he took off. But Brian Westbrook eventually caught up, though he wasn't able to make the tackle. Baskett finally did, at the Eagles' 7, with time long since having expired.
So the Eagles avoided giving the other team a touchdown on the final play of the first half for the second week in a row. Victory!
Oh, and the Birds lined up in an illegal formation on the play -- coming out of a timeout.
McNabb completed 15 of 21 passes for 190 yards, one TD and one brain-dead pick in the first half. The Eagles outgained the Browns, 261 net yards to 100.