Owens brightens Pinkston's day

Attention given teammate lets Eagle have big 1st half


Super Bowl

Patriots 24 - Eagles 21

February 07, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The much-heralded return of wide receiver Terrell Owens finally took place last night. Todd Pinkston couldn't have been happier.

With Owens back in the starting lineup for the Philadelphia Eagles and drawing attention from the New England Patriots" defense, Pinkston had the first half of his life last night, hauling in four catches for 82 yards.

Most of the receiver's production came against single coverage, including a spectacular, 40-yard grab in front of cornerback Randall Gay that helped set up the Eagles" only score of the first half.

Earlier in the drive, Pinkston converted a third-and-8, sliding across the field on a deep in- route for 17 yards.

He had a total of four catches in the two previous games, and had more receiving yards in just three other games this season than he did in the first half last night, which ended with the teams tied at 7.

Owens, meanwhile, showed no ill effects from a broken fibula and ankle sprain that forced him out of the last two games of the regular season and the earlier playoff games. He had been listed as questionable all week, but guaranteed he would play, and he made good on that promise, starting the game and running with no limp.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb's first two passes of the game went Owens" way, and he hauled in the second for seven yards before going out of bounds.

Owens showcased his speed on his third catch, taking the ball on a crossing pattern 30 yards to the Patriots" 17 (the drive ended in an interception of McNabb at the 4-yard line).

Replay reversals

Both teams won challenges of calls in the first half, reversing what would have been offensive fumbles.

McNabb was hit on the third play of the game by Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, and his knee grazed the ground as he spun out of a tackle before fumbling on a hit by Willie McGinest. Bruschi recovered the ball at the Eagles" 34, but the play was overturned.

Patriots receiver David Givens had a fumble overturned after replays showed his knee was on the ground at the Eagles" 31. New England was unable to score on the drive.

Part of pattern

Tom Brady fumbling away the ball five yards from the end zone was uncharacteristic of the Pa triots" Pro Bowl quarterback, but it fit in well with his team's play in the first half.

New England committed two false-starts and was charged with a personal foul and illegal contact that wiped out an interception in the first quarter.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, committed just one first- half penalty.

Vrabel among elite

The Patriots" Mike Vrabel is in pretty good company - especially for a linebacker.

Vrabel caught his second Super Bowl touchdown pass in two years last night, a 2-yard effort in the third quarter that gave New England a 14-7 lead and tied him with Michael Irvin and 13 others for third on the Super Bowl career touchdown list.

Jerry Rice tops the list with eight touchdowns. John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Cliff Branch and Antonio Freeman are tied for second with three.

End zone

Eagles quarterback Jeff Blake, a former Raven, was inactive for the game. The Patriots had scored first in all but one game this season, a meaningless regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, before last night. The Eagles won the coin toss, which is usually a bad omen. The loser of the coin toss had won six of the previous eight Super Bowls.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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