Eagles remain alive

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A 63-yard kickoff return by Quintin Demps set up the Eagles' first touchdown of the game. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles arrived in San Francisco injured -- both physically and made a little bit psychologically. They came here with a 2-3 record, without one of the league's best players in Brian Westbrook, without both of their presumed starting wide receivers (Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown), and in the midst of what might be called a crisis of confidence.

They arrived here, got their customary lead, and then kicked it away in spectacular fashion. David Akers had a 54-yard field goal attempt blocked at the end of the first half and the Niners returned it for a touchdown, cutting the Eagles' lead to 17-16. Then San Francisco knifed through the Eagles' defense on the first drive of the third quarter to take the lead.

This was a crisis as the Eagles headed toward their bye week. This was a very, very difficult situation coming together -- overshadowed by the question of if this Eagles team really was any good, and if this Eagles team really did have any heart anymore. It was that serious.

And then they came back. Led by a defense that absolutely smothered the 49ers in the fourth quarter, and by an offense that did just enough, they came back to beat the 49ers, 40-26. Donovan McNabb threw a touchdown pass to tight L.J. Smith to get them close, and then Akers kicked the 38-yard field goal that put them ahead again for good. That Akers had to wait out a replay challenge to see if the field goal really was good -- and it was ridiculously close -- was just par for his rocky 2008 course.

Yes, they are only 3-3 and still trailing by a bunch in the NFC East. Yes, it was only one game. But, given everything, it did feel like more than that.

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