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Kolb starts strong but fades to the finish in Eagles' loss

Kevin Kolb received a sideline hug from Donovan McNabb and a standing ovation while he jogged off the field at halftime.  

PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Kolb received a sideline hug from Donovan McNabb and a standing ovation while he jogged off the field at halftime.

Kolb's first NFL start was fun and productive -- for a half at least.

The Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback also threw two costly second-half interceptions, including one that was returned 97 yards for a score, and left with the loss. He completed 31 of 51 passes for 391 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions in a 48-22 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

"There were some good things out there," Kolb said. "I just hate that I kill myself and kill the team with those turnovers."

Kolb will have at least one shot at redemption. Eagles coach Andy Reid said Kolb will start next week against the Kansas City Chiefs if McNabb can't play.

The Eagles also will have Michael Vick available for the first time as he returns from his league-mandated suspension. Jeff Garcia, who rejoined the Eagles on Tuesday, was the No. 2 quarterback against the Saints and didn't play.

Behind Drew Brees, New Orleans turned this game into a rout late. Darren Sharper put the finishing touches on the Saints' victory when he returned Kolb's interception 97 yards for a touchdown that provided the final margin.

McNabb was reduced to a cheerleader because of a fractured rib. His sideline spot was no surprise since he didn't practice all week after taking a hard shot in the end zone after his 3-yard touchdown run in last week's 38-10 victory at Carolina.

That cleared the way for Kolb, a third-year pro, to make his first NFL start.

Kolb had a unique way to open the game when he lined up to the right as part of Philadelphia's version of the Wildcat offense on the third play from scrimmage. Two plays later, he connected with DeSean Jackson in stride with a deep pass down the middle for a 71-yard touchdown that tied the score at 7. McNabb greeted Kolb on the sideline with a smile and a congratulatory smack on the helmet.

Kolb was sharp on the final drive of the first half with the Eagles on their own 21 and trailing 17-10. He completed 3 of 4 attempts, with two receivers making smart plays to run out of bounds, to drive Philadelphia to New Orleans' 14.

Kolb's one pass into the end zone fell incomplete, but David Akers salvaged the drive with a field goal. That earned Kolb a nice ovation as he left the field.

The warm reception from the fickle Eagles fans didn't last long. Neither did Kolb's smart play.

Kolb threw an ill-timed pass that was intercepted by Saints linebacker Scott Shanle, setting up a New Orleans touchdown for a 31-13 lead. Kolb heard some boos later in the third quarter when he threw an incomplete pass to Brian Westbrook on third down.

"I threw the ball right into coverage," Kolb said. "I've got to cut those turnovers out. I know better than that. I will do it."

Kolb, Philadelphia's second-round draft pick in 2007, took all the snaps with the starters this week and said he felt confident and prepared for his first start.

"I think he did some good things," Reid said. "There were a couple of things that he shouldn't have done."

Kolb was 24 of 45 for 167 yards and no touchdowns with four interceptions in eight career games entering Sunday. He was 7 of 11 for 23 yards and sacked twice once he took over for the injured McNabb in the victory over the Panthers.

"The thing I've got to learn is not get all wound up during the week," Kolb said.

McNabb has missed 25 games, including playoffs, because of injuries during his first 10 NFL seasons. The Eagles are 14-11 in those contests. Last season, McNabb played in all 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2003.

With the winless Chiefs in town next week and then a bye week, the Eagles probably would rest McNabb for two weeks so he's closer to 100 percent and ready to play Oct. 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"If I'm taking the reps tomorrow and Wednesday, then I'm going to approach it like I'm the starter for the next week," Kolb said.

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