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Eagles vs. Redskins In Tight NFC East Matchup
WASHINGTON,D.C.—Landover, MD – The story should have been about two NFC East rivals going head to head at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Maryland on ESPN Sunday night. In what is arguably the toughest division in football, the hometown Washington Redskins were coming off of a crushing loss to the New York Giants, while the Philadelphia Eagles were trying to make their pass-happy offense a little bit less one-dimensional, and hoping that their star quarterback Donovan McNabb can make it through the season while playing with a sports hernia, which will require off season surgery.
The Eagles struck first on a 56 yard touchdown pass from McNabb to receiver Reggie Brown in the first quarter. The Redskins responded in the second quarter with a 24 yard field goal by John Hall. They added a touchdown later in the second quarter on a one-yard run by Mike Sellers to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Eagles would manage only another three points on a David Akers field goal from 34 yards out, while the Redskins would add another touchdown on a 6 yard carry by Clinton Portis. The Redskins emerged victorious by score of 17-10. The loss dropped the Eagles, the reigning NFC Champs, to 4-4 and into last place in the division, while the Redskins moved to 5-3 and into a tie for second place with the Dallas Cowboys, behind the first place 6-2 Giants.
But the real story of Sunday night’s game was the T.O. saga, and how the Eagles would respond without him. Despite the loss, the Eagles remained positive after the game, and their classy quarterback Donovan McNabb, who has stayed politically correct and above the fray despite the repeated verbal digs lodged at him by Owens, finally spoke out.
“Obviously it’s tough to lose a guy of his caliber and of his ability, but I think we might be better off”, said McNabb in his post game comments.
“What we did tonight, we showed that we play well together. I think we also showed that given the opportunity, guys can make plays for us. Again, we’re 4 and 4, we’re not 1 and 7. I think that’s the way to look at it and I think for the guys that are out there, they understand that we win together and we lose together”, he added.
When asked exactly what he meant by better off, McNabb elaborated on his earlier comments.
“We played as a team. Nothing against him (Owens) and his attitude, but when you get out there in front of the fans on the football field, it’s about playing together. I think we all played with a lot of attitude, a lot of adrenaline, and the guys played well together. Unfortunately we didn’t win this game, but I think it’s going to be a stepping stone for us to move forward”, McNabb added.
Eagles coach Andy Reid, who had most likely already made his decision regarding Owens, preferred to confine his post game comments to the action on the field. Stating that he thought they would have a chance to have some success running the football, the Eagles ground game still proved ineffective.
“Congratulations to the Washington Redskins. They did a nice job against us tonight. We’ve obviously got to do a better job on both sides of the football on third down and take advantage of situations when you’re in the red zone offensively”, said Reid. When asked the inevitable questions surrounding the playing status of Owens, Reid responded that he wasn’t going to get into that.
Asked when he would get into it, Reid responded ,“When I want to.”
The following day, the Eagles suspended Owens for an additional three games and will deactivate him for the remainder of the season. Reaction to this move by the Eagles seems to have caught few people by surprise. Owens, still regarded as perhaps the best wide receiver in the game, is expected to catch on with another team next season, but not for the huge, multi-year contract he and agent Drew Rosenhaus are after. Owens will likely be offered a one or two-year, incentive laden deal, loaded with professional conduct clauses.
But even with the T.O. soap opera finally behind them, for now, the Eagles will continue to struggle through injuries and the loss of their status as the division’s, if not the conference’s best team. In the tight NFC East, it will be an uphill battle for the perennial division champs to just to make the playoffs, let alone come close to duplicating their success of last season.