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McNabb, Offense Still a Work In Progress

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Big week coming up for Donovan McNabb.

The Redskins' new quarterback makes his return to Philadelphia next Sunday in a matchup with the Eagles, the team he played for the last 11 years.

Let the hype begin.

Oh, wait.

First things first.

McNabb had a game to play against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

It wasn't his best work. Or the Redskins' best work, for that matter.

The Redskins' offense proved inconsistent in Sunday's 30-16 loss to the Rams. They found themselves in an early deficit: 14-0 after just half a quarter.

McNabb's passing and a suddenly reliable ground game put the Redskins on top 16-14 midway through the third quarter.

But the offense stalled the rest of the game and the defense yielded 16 unanswered points.

McNabb finished the game with 19-of-32 pass completions for 236 yards. He threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss in the second quarter and a costly interception to Rams safety Bradley Fletcher in the fourth quarter.

Moss was McNabb's top target. He caught six passes for 124 yards in the game, including a 56-yard pass on the first play of the second half.

The offense struggled in the second half, failing to move into scoring range on four straight possession while the game was still in reach. Overall, the offense was 0-of-3 in the red zone.

When the game clock finally ran out, McNabb was in the middle of directing the offense at the line of scrimmage in a last-gasp comeback effort.

His shoulders slumped.

"It was disturbing," he said after the game. "We're much better than what we showed."

It was a far cry from the optimism of the Redskins' offensive showing a week ago vs. Houston – even though that was in a losing effort as well.

McNabb completed 28-of-38 passes for 426 yards and one touchdown in the Redskins' 30-27 overtime loss to the Texans.

He felt like he was starting to get "that timing and chemistry down" with his receivers.

Clearly the Rams game was a setback.

"There are going to be some games like that and there are going to be some games where we are going to have to kind of battle through," McNabb said. "[The Texans game] was a good sign for us to see what we can do if we are on the same page. We have to continue to feed off of that, continue to roll as these next weeks continue on and be consistent with it."

Consistency proved difficult inside the Edward Jones Dome.

The Redskins were just 1-of-10 on third-down conversions in the game and were flagged for four false starts, one holding penalty and one delay of game.

"You are going to find yourself in some tough situations [in road games], some third and longs, some third and shorts," McNabb said. "You have to be able to create those first downs and keep the chains moving. Playing in St. Louis – it is a loud environment. They turn those speakers on and play the music while you are in the huddle.

"You have to be able to block it out. When you are at the line of scrimmage, you just sure you understand what you are seeing and recognize it and be able to execute it."

Now McNabb and the Redskins turn their attention to Philadelphia.

The Redskins are 1-11 in their last 12 road games and Philadelphia is one of the more hostile environments to play in.

McNabb and the Redskins must put the Rams game behind them for this pivotal NFC East matchup. The Eagles are 2-1 after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-3 on Sunday.

As for McNabb, his comments this week will be scrutinized closely, but they will likely be vanilla.

Even at his introductory press conference back on April 6, McNabb downplayed what would seem to be an emotional return to a city that both embraced and discarded him.

He stayed on message in his comments after the game.

"I've always said for me this is just a normal game," he said. "And for us coming off this game, it's a must-win. Coming off these two tough losses like we've had the last few weeks, no matter who we're playing we have to execute and come out with a win by any means necessary."

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