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No T.O. puts pressure on McNabb



Published: Thu, January 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Quarterback Donovan McNabb had the best NFL season of his six-year career.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Donovan McNabb peeked into the interview room as Brian Westbrook approached the podium, and shouted three questions.

"What are you going to do without T.O.? Are you going to get the ball more? What's the mood of the team?" McNabb said in a squeaky, high-pitched tone, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Tired of hearing those questions himself, the Philadelphia Eagles' five-time Pro Bowl quarterback interjected some humor into a mundane Wednesday news conference.

McNabb brings the same lighthearted spirit into the locker room and the huddle.

Under pressure?

Pressure? What pressure?

McNabb certainly isn't feeling any as the heavily favored Eagles (13-3) prepare to play the Minnesota Vikings (9-8) in an NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday.

With receiver Terrell Owens sidelined by an ankle injury, McNabb realizes the burden of carrying the offense falls on him. He welcomes the challenge.

"You guys said T.O. took the pressure off of me. Now I guess I have all the pressure again," McNabb said. "I love pressure. I love to step out there and everybody is standing on their feet with their mouth wide open to find out what I'm going to do next."

McNabb is coming off the best season of his six-year career. He set a team record with 3,875 yards passing, became the first NFL player to throw for more than 30 touchdowns (31) and less than 10 interceptions (eight), and his passer rating of 104.7 was second in the NFC.

Improvement

Often criticized for being inaccurate, McNabb drastically improved his completion percentage -- his 64.0 percent was almost six points higher than his career average -- and broke an NFL record by completing 24 consecutive passes over two games.

None of the personal glory matters if the Eagles don't win the Super Bowl.

After losing the last three NFC championship games, nothing else is considered a success.

"In this world that we live in, you're not great unless you win a Super Bowl," McNabb said.

"It's sad that you have to be judged by that, but we just have to play our game and know what we're seeing and go out and execute."

Devastating injury

Owens' injury was a devastating blow for Philadelphia, which lost both of its games without the Pro Bowl wideout, mainly because many of the starters were rested with nothing on the line.

"We have more weapons than just T.O," McNabb said, referring to wide receivers Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell and tight ends Chad Lewis and L.J. Smith.

Westbrook figures to draw most of the attention from Minnesota's defense.

"They still have to respect the other guys on this team," Westbrook said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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