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Eagles finally feeling Super



Published: Mon, January 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Philly shuts down Falcons, end string ofNFC title game losses.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Yo, Philly. Lose those jitters and relax. Your Eagles made it to the Super Bowl.

Donovan McNabb & amp; Co. ignored the burden of three straight losses in the NFC championship game and warmed a frozen city's heart, stuffing Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 on Sunday.

Philadelphia moves on to its first Super Bowl in 24 years -- the only acceptable outcome for the Eagles and their rabid fans after so many close calls. They will meet defending champion New England in Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 6.

"We've got one more game to play," McNabb told the crowd. "The reason we set out to play this game ... is to win the Super Bowl.

"Enjoy it now, and we'll bring something else home."

The fourth consecutive appearance in the NFC title game proved to be the charm for the Eagles, even though they didn't have top receiver Terrell Owens -- reduced to the role of MVC (Most Valuable Cheerleader) on the sideline.

Frozen Birds

McNabb threw a pair of touchdown passes to Chad Lewis, including the clinching score with 3:21 remaining. That turned the final minutes into a delirious coronation, with the 67,717 fans -- most of whom never sat in their seats on a 17-degree day -- saluting a team that fulfilled its destiny.

"Super Bowl! Super Bowl!" they chanted when play was halted for the two-minute warning.

The only warm-weather team left in the playoffs went cold in its biggest game of the year. Vick was sacked four times by the fearsome Philly defense, which also came up with a crucial interception that set up David Akers' second field goal.

"This team has great personality," coach Andy Reid said. "Everybody here in Philadelphia loves 'em."

The Eagles are one victory away from bringing the city its first major sports championship since the 76ers won the NBA title in 1983. The football team hasn't won it all since 1960, which predates the Super Bowl by six seasons.

Philly's only previous Super Bowl appearance came in 1981, but the Eagles fell flat in a 27-10 loss to the Raiders.

This time, that score worked in their favor.

McNabb was 17-of-26 passing for 180 yards, a workmanlike performance that solidified his position as one of the game's best quarterbacks. He also ran 10 times for 32 yards.

Vick's debut on the Super Bowl stage will have to wait. He was 11-of-24 passing for 136 yards, while the Eagles' stifling defense kept him from pulling off one of his signature runs.

He ran it just four times for 26 yards, but gave up even more yards on the sacks. Derrick Burgess dropped the elusive quarterback twice, and Jevon Kearse kept Vick hemmed up on the other side.

"I didn't get outside the pocket," Vick said. "I think that was their first priority."

Super half

Philadelphia led 14-10 at halftime, a bit too close for a team that had lost to St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Carolina in the past three NFC title games.

But the Eagles dominated the final two quarters. Akers connected from 31 and 34 yards, then McNabb and Lewis teamed up to finish off the Falcons with their 2-yard touchdown play.

McNabb worked his passes around to eight players, led by Brian Westbrook with five catches for 39 yards. Westbrook also handled the bulk of the running load, carrying 16 times for 96 yards.

"For those about to rock, we salute you," AC-DC screamed over the sound system. Fireworks went off above the stadium.

And tons of glitter fluttered over the field, recreating the blizzard that swept through the city a day earlier.

"This is their fourth trip in a row to the championship game," said Jim Mora, the Falcons' rookie coach. "They've been in this position before, and they played like they've been in this position before."

Atlanta's offense never warmed up over the final two quarters.

While the temperature at kickoff was 17 degrees, it felt more like zero. A steady 26 mph wind -- gusting as high as 35 mph -- swept in through the openings on the north end of the stadium.




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