This victory was so messy, the Washington Redskins didn't know what to think of it.
The heavily favored Redskins blew a 14-point lead against a poor Philadelphia Eagles offense, missed a field goal on the last play of regulation and had an aborted field goal attempt in overtime. They finally won 20-17 on Brett Conway's 27-yarder 4:34 into the extra period Sunday.
"There's a little disappointment," guard Tre Johnson said. "I'm glad to walk away with the W, but we could play a lot better."
How else to explain how rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb, who had struggled through 2 1/2 games since becoming the Eagles' starter, could lead a pair of 91-yard touchdown drives after his team trailed 17-3? And what possibly could have made Conway slice a simple 28-yarder wide right on the last play of regulation?
"That's a kick I'm going to make 999 times out of 1,000, literally," said Conway, who has missed four field goals in two weeks after a 12-for-16 start. "There was some kind of intervention that didn't want me to make that kick, and I don't know what it was."
Conway got another chance after James Thrash's 48-yard kickoff return to start the overtime period, but not without more drama. Conway was set to try a 20-yarder, but holder Brad Johnson mishandled the snap and fell on the ball. Conway got another chance only because the gaffe happened on third down.
"I wasn' nervous at all," Conway said. "I was very upset and very angry that I didn't make the first one."
The victory kept the Redskins (7-4) alone in first place in the NFC East. The Eagles (3-9) have lost five games by six points or fewer, including two in overtime.
"As a fan it might be fun to watch," Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins said. "But as a player I would rather dominate. It's ridiculous that we lose at the end almost every time."
Trailing 17-3, McNabb suddenly came of age. The Eagles' sputtering offense drove the ball the length of the field twice. The first drive covered 18 plays, consumed 8:21 and required two fourth-down conversions before tight end Luther Broughton caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 11:47 to play.
The Eagles tied it on a nine-play, 4:18 drive, ending with Broughton's 26-yard reception with 1:52 to go. Broughton bounced off safety Leomont Evans and ran in his fourth TD of the year.
McNabb was 9-of-13 and ran for 30 yards in the fourth quarter. He finished 16-for-28 for 172 yards and had 71 yards rushing on eight carries, including a 26-yard scramble on the game-tying drive.
"Donovan took a big step forward," Broughton said. "He didn't play like a rookie today. He was relaxed. He seemed like he had been through it before."
Leading 10-3 at halftime, the Redskins took the second-half kickoff and moved 72 yards on six plays. A 38-yard pass interference penalty on Bobby Taylor in the end zone set up Stephen Davis' 1-yard run for his league-leading 16th touchdown.
The Redskins needed two fortunate deflections on both of their first-half scoring plays. Conway's 43-yard field goal hit the left upright before going through, and Johnson's 6-yard pass into heavy coverage was deflected by Dawkins and bounced off Stephen Alexander's chest before Mike Sellers grabbed it for a touchdown.
Blowing leads and losing nail-biters has been a trademark for recent Redskins teams. They are 2-2 in such games this year. Not perfect, but a lot better.
And, yes, disappointment aside, Tre Johnson reiterated that ugly wins don't get a special column in the standings.
"It's not a beauty contest," Johnson said. "Ain't no bikini on that one. A win is a win."
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