It was the third quarter of the Philadelphia Eagles' 38-10 rout of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and both franchises suddenly had big worries about their veteran quarterbacks. One was injured two weeks before Michael Vick is eligible to return, the other can't seem to throw it to the right team anymore.
With Delhomme increasing his two-game turnover total to 11, the Eagles' dominating defensive performance in their second straight season-opening rout was tempered by concerns about McNabb, who was crunched by several tacklers on a 3-yard touchdown run.
"He's sore right now. He's got a broken rib," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "We'll just see how he does over the next little bit."
With the suspended Vick watching from a luxury suite, Kevin Kolb finished at quarterback as the Eagles ran out the clock on a miserable day for the Panthers.
Reid wouldn't rule out McNabb, who did not speak to reporters, from playing next week against New Orleans.
"Don is very resilient," said running back Brian Westbrook, who caught one of McNabb's two touchdown passes. "He heals fast."
While Panthers coach John Fox hinted Delhomme will remain the starter, his teammates were peppered with questions about their confidence in the 34-year-old quarterback two years removed from reconstructive elbow surgery.
Playing his first meaningful game since throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble against Arizona in the playoffs, Delhomme was constantly under pressure and nearly as bad in a miserable start for the defending NFC South champions.
With the boos increasing before he was finally replaced by Josh McCown, Delhomme was 7-of-17 for 73 yards with four interceptions and a lost fumble. His passer rating was 14.7.
"I hope so," Delhomme said, when asked if he deserves to be the starter next week against Atlanta. "I'm not looking for the easy way out."
He may have to start since McCown left with knee and foot injuries. Third-stringer Matt Moore threw his own interception, one of Carolina's team record-tying seven turnovers.
"Offensively, we just sucked. Let's be honest," receiver Steve Smith said.
Victor Abiamiri picked up Delhomme's fumble and plunged 2 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Moments later, DeSean Jackson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown – the second longest in franchise history.
Delhomme soon collapsed under the relentless blitzing from the Eagles, who were playing their first game since the death of longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson from cancer.
Sheldon Brown had two of the interceptions and Akeem Jordan and Asante Samuel each had one on consecutive Delhomme throws in the third quarter.
"The combination of hitting him, and him throwing a couple picks, it seemed like he got a little streaky," linebacker Chris Gocong said. "We kind of got him on his heels a little bit. It was a tough day for him."
McNabb, who finished 10-of-18 for 79 yards, rumbled for a TD after the Jordan pick for the game's final score. He was on the ground for several minutes after a hard hit by several would-be tacklers. Vick, watching from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie's suite, looked concerned.
McNabb was moving slowly a few minutes later when he headed to the locker room. McNabb last year started all 16 games for the first time since 2003.
With Vick not eligible to return until Week 3 from penalties related to his dogfighting conviction, the Eagles could have uncertainty at quarterback next week against New Orleans.
Fresh off receiving a five-year, $42.5 million deal in the offseason that includes $20 million in guaranteed money, Delhomme and the Panthers may have bigger worries.
After DeAngelo Williams' 11-yard TD run on the opening drive, Delhomme imploded.
"He probably won't sleep very much tonight," Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "It's a cruel environment and people only love you when you're winning in this league, in this game. Obviously he's having a tough time right now."
A Vick protester outside the stadium more than two hours before kickoff had pictures of mistreated dogs taped to his body with a sign that said "Forgive This?" He was given little attention, save for a fan in an Eagles jersey who yelled, "Yeah, Michael Vick!" … Panthers S Chris Harris (knee) was a late scratch. … Eagles S Quintin Demps left with a hamstring injury. … The Eagles beat St. Louis 38-3 in Week 1 last year. … Ex-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue sat next to Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in his luxury box.
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