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NFC FAVORITES Eagles looking to land in Super Bowl



Published: Sat, January 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Terrell Owens will probably miss the entire playoffs.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- New year, another playoff season, same theme for the Philadelphia Eagles: It's Super Bowl or bust.

The Eagles set a franchise record with 13 wins this season, won their fourth straight NFC East title and finished first in the conference for the third year in a row.

None of it matters if they don't finally reach the Super Bowl after losing the last three NFC championship games.

"You don't win the Super Bowl and no one really cares," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "No one cares who finished second and probably a lot of people can't even remember who finished second in most of the Super Bowls. If you don't win the Super Bowl, it doesn't matter what you did during the year."

The Eagles will play their first playoff game against Seattle, St. Louis or Minnesota next Sunday. For some players, it'll be their first action in four weeks.

Resting the starters

After wide receiver Terrell Owens went down with an ankle injury that probably will keep him out the rest of the season, Coach Andy Reid decided to rest several of his key starters in the final two regular season games because the Eagles already had secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

McNabb played one quarter, while running back Brian Westbrook and defensive end Jevon Kearse didn't play in the last two games. Some critics questioned Reid's philosophy, saying the long layoff will hurt the Eagles. Other coaches, such as New England's Bill Belichick, used an opposite approach, playing the regulars in meaningless games.

"I have a lot of confidence in our guys and wouldn't have been able to do this without them," Reid said. "I've got some tremendous leaders in that locker room and guys that will be very focused in on what is at hand, coming up in the playoffs. I am looking forward to it and I think they are."

With mostly reserves playing the last two games, the Eagles were outscored 58-17 in losses to the Rams and Cincinnati. Only the 1967 Green Bay Packers and 1972 Washington Redskins went to the Super Bowl after losing the final two regular season games.

"We'll be well-rested and we'll have all our bullets back, ready to go out there in the first game," cornerback Sheldon Brown said.

Owens out

Owens' injury was a devastating blow to an offense that was nearly unstoppable in the first 12 games of the season.

The Eagles averaged 28.3 points in the first dozen games, won nine of those by double-digit margins and five by at least 21 points.

Without Owens, Philadelphia's receiving corps -- Todd Pinkston, Freddie Mitchell, Greg Lewis and Billy McMullen -- is ordinary at best. But the Eagles still have McNabb and Westbrook, a dangerous threat who had 1,515 yards rushing and receiving.

"A number of those guys have wanted an opportunity to get more playing time and more balls thrown in their direction," Owens told The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this week. "So now these guys will get a chance to show what they can do without me. Hopefully, it won't be a repeat situation of pre-T.O."




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