Donovan McNabb Benched: Vikings QB's Mother Leaves, Christian Ponder Starts 2nd Half Against Bears (VIDEO)
With the Minnesota Vikings trailing the Chicago Bears, 36-10, in the final five minutes of the third quarter, Bears defensive end Israel Idonije ran down Donovan McNabb for a 10-yard sack on 3rd and long. The punt team ran onto the field as McNabb slowly walked back to the sideline. Meanwhile, his mother left her seat and slowly walked up the steps toward the concourse.
"She has seen enough," commented NBC broadcaster Chris Collinsworth.
Although McNabb completed 19 of his 24 pass attempts, he totaled just 177 yards. Receiving poor protection from his offensive line, he was knocked around and sacked five times in three quarters. He didn't receive much help from the running game, either, as Vikes All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson ran for a mere 39 yards. To compound the issue, the Bears just kept putting points on the board. Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes in the first half, and Devin Hester returned a kickoff for a touchdown as Chicago took a commanding 26-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The Bears would tack on three more points early in the final quarter. From that point on, McNabb watched the game from the sideline, a view that has been increasingly familiar for the six-time Pro Bowler. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier replaced McNabb with rookie Chrisitian Ponder, who finished 9 of 17 for 99 yards and no touchdowns. Despite flashing some of the skills that made him a first-round draft pick, no comeback materialized and the Bears won 39-10.
Last year, McNabb lasted as the starter with the Washington Redskins through Week 8 before getting pulled in a loss to the Detroit Lions just before the two-minute warning. Coach Mike Shanahan explained after the game, in which McNabb's replacement Rex Grossman failed to bring the Redskins back, that he thought the backup gave the team the best chance to win. A day after the loss, Shanahan said McNabb wasn't in good enough shape to run the two-minute offense.
Despite getting pulled from that game, McNabb remained the Redskins' starter until Week 15 when Shanahan officially replaced him with Grossman.
In 2008, Eagles coach Andy Reid benched McNabb during a poor performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12. Reid pulled McNabb at the half even though the Eagles were only down 10-7. McNabb ended up starting the rest of that season, leading Philadelphia to the NFC Championship game.
After Sunday night's blowout loss to the Bears, Frazier said he has not decided on who will be the starter when Minnesota hosts Green Bay next week.
"We have to sit down on Monday and talk about a lot of things. We need to decide on that direction we want to go," he said.
As for McNabb, the 34-year-old believes he will play against the Packers.
"I guess we'll sit down and talk but I expect to be in there next week," he said.
McNabb has struggled greatly through Minnesota's 1-5 start, only throwing for 1,026 yards (26th in the league) and four touchdowns (tied for 27th). He has also taken a beating, getting sacked 16 times so far (tied for 4th) and hurried several other times.
Minnesota was supposed to be another fresh start for McNabb after spending 11 years in Philadelphia and one drama-filled season in D.C., but yesterday's story is becoming quite familiar.
McNabb gets a fresh start. McNabb struggles but doesn't play horribly. McNabb gets pulled. McNabb eventually gets benched.
But is this the last time we'll hear this one?
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated at one point that the Vikings won the game, but the victory went to the Bears.