GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Donovan McNabb threw two touchdown passes to Brent Celek, rallying the Philadelphia Eagles within 24-19 through three quarters against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Larry Fitzgerald caught a record-setting three touchdown passes in the first half for Arizona, which led 24-6 at halftime.
McNabb threw touchdown passes of 6 and 31 yards to Celek in the third quarter to get the Eagles close. David Akers’ string of 155 consecutive extra points ended when he missed the conversion kick on the second touchdown. Earlier, his NFL record string of 19 straight postseason field goals ended when he missed a 47-yarder.
Safety Adrian Wilson sacked McNabb twice in the third quarter, forcing a fumble on the first. But Arizona couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and Philadelphia went on to score its first touchdown on a 13-play, 90-yard drive. McNabb’s 50-yard pass to Kevin Curtis set up his 6-yard TD pass to Celek that cut the lead to 24-13 with 4:08 left in the third.
Curtis had four catches for 122 yards through three quarters.
Arizona had 8 yards in the third quarter after 260 in the first half.
Kurt Warner threw a 12-yard pass to Fitzgerald for a touchdown on the game’s first drive, used a trick play for a 62-yarder early in the second and lobbed a 1-yarder to the big receiver to put Arizona up 24-6 at the break.
Fitzgerald became the third receiver in NFL history to catch three touchdown passes in a conference championship game, and the first to do it in the first half.
The half ended with Neil Rackers’ 49-yard field goal for Arizona.
Warner completed 14 of 17 passes for 203 yards in the first two quarters for a Cardinals team playing in its first conference championship game. Fitzgerald had six catches for 113 yards to tie the NFL record with his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game in the playoffs.
On the play after Akers’ missed 47-yarder, Warner pitched to J.J. Arrington, who threw the ball back to the Arizona quarterback. Warner lofted it downfield to Fitzgerald, who scored after safety Quintin Demps fell down.
Arizona took the opening kickoff in front of a loud crowd of more than 70,000 at University of Phoenix Stadium and went 80 yards in nine plays.
Edgerrin James carried four times for 33 yards on the drive. Warner was 4-for-4 for 44 yards, capped by his 12-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald caught the ball at the 2, then bounced off Brian Dawkins and barely got the ball across the goal line.
Arizona went 73 yards in nine plays for its third touchdown. The scoring pass came a pass interference call against the Eagles’ Asante Samuel.
The Cardinals nearly got the ball on the subsequent kickoff when it went off Victor Abiamiri’s fingertips. The official ruled the ball then went out of bounds before coming back and field and being recovered by Arizona. Replays showed the ball never went out of bounds.
McNabb ran 22 yards on Philadelphia’s first play of the game, his longest run since week 16 of 2007, when he had a 40-yard scramble against New Orleans. That led to Akers’ first field goal.
Aaron Francisco intercepted a deflected pass by McNabb and returned it 27 yards to the Philadelphia 25 later in the first quarter, but DeSean Jackson stripped the ball away at the end of the play and Matt Schobel recovered for the Eagles.
Brian Westbrook was in the lineup despite a sore left knee for the Eagles but wasn’t a factor. Arizona’s Anquan Boldin, out of last week’s victory at Carolina with a strained left hamstring, was back and showed no ill effects.