philadelphia eagls, mccn.
(photo credit: AP)
The atmosphere was festive to say the least. Imagine: 70,000 people wearing Eagles apparel, "Cowboys suck" chants on the Philadelphia subway, and a stadium shaking whenever the Eagles made a good play - that was Philadelphia on Sunday. Not to mention an entire crowd singing the Eagles fight song, "Fly Eagles fly," when the Eagles scored a touchdown.
It was the biggest game of the NFL year. There were 737 media credentials issued for the game, ranging from Al-Jazeera international to the Toronto Sun to an NFL China Web site. Antarctica might have been the only continent not represented.
There were such concerns about security that extra Pennsylvania State Police were there to make sure that neither Terrell Owens nor another Cowboy player was attacked.
When Owens had his press conference, over 100 media members and seven cameras squeezed into a room that is not much bigger than a standard bedroom. The Cowboys media relations staff were screaming about bogus questions while most Cowboys players escaped before the press could ask them any questions.
Owens did not have a catch for much of the game and finished with only three. The Eagles successfully shut down the flamboyant wide receiver.
When an NFL team faces someone with the talent of Owens, it must strike a balance between not letting him beat you and not forgetting about the other players.
"If you don't account for Owens at all times, you are going to get wiped out," said Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown.
Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells concurred, "They were desperately trying to prevent him from getting the ball."
The Eagles pride themselves on execution and they knew that in order to win, their defense needed to do just that. It might sound vague, but the Eagles defense knows exactly what it means - get to Drew Bledsoe before he can throw the ball.
"The reason that Bledsoe could not throw the ball down the field is because we pressured him all day," said Brown. "They were forced to throw the ball short."
Bledsoe has one of the better arms in the NFL, but when he is pressured he can make mistakes, and that's what happened on Sunday.
The Eagles used a "Tex 11" blitz, which allows the linebackers (the guys who line up between the lineman and the defensive backs) to pressure the quarterback.
The Eagles also recognized something else.
"We knew that Owens was going to catch the ball, but we needed to have two or three guys around to tackle him so he does not complete any big plays," said Brown.
Besides one 24-yard catch, Owens did not have a catch over 12 yards.
The offense also understood the importance of execution. Take Donovan McNabb's go-ahead touchdown pass to Reggie Brown.
"We practiced that play all week in which Donovan flips the ball back to me and I flip it back to him and Donovan throws the ball down the field," said Correll Buckhalter.
NFL players often don't know what plays their coaches will choose, but they have to be ready for over 100.
"I didn't expect the play to be called," joked Buckhalter. "But when a play like this is called you have to be ready because it could change the game."
Buckhalter added that the "media made a bigger deal out of the game than the players."
It is hard to argue with that, but with McNabb walking around giving hugs and kisses after the game, it was clear that this win was special.
1. New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush scored his first NFL touchdown as the Saints prevailed over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Surely the Houston Texans will repeatedly ask themselves, "Why did we pass on Reggie Bush?"
2. Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher - With a rookie quarterback and the Albert Haynesworth incident a week ago, the Titans were suppose to lay an egg against the Indianapolis Colts. Instead, the Titans defense made Peyton Manning look mediocre.
3. The Chicago Bears - with an easy schedule and a defense that is the opposite of Swiss cheese, 15-1 or 16-0 might just be a possibility.
4. The New England Patriots - unknown receivers and a patchwork secondary, yet the Pats somehow head into their bye week at 4-1.
5. Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe - a seven-yard touchdown and a nine-yard run.
6. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, for throwing a perfect go-ahead touchdown pass to Reggie Brown. Brown did not have any room for error on the pass and he delivered it perfectly.
1. The Washington Redskins - in two division games this year the Redskins have been outscored 46-13.
2. Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, for underthrowing a wide-open Terrell Owens leading to a Lito Shepard interception.
3. The Oakland Raiders, who lost to the hapless San Francisco 49ers. The Raiders (0-4) are competing with the Detroit Lions (0-5) for the No. 1 draft pick, which could be known as the Brady Quinn sweepstakes.