'Really storybook'

Upstart Eagles hold defending Super Bowl champs without TD, advance

Nfc Divisional Playoff

January 12, 2009|By Gary R. Blockus | Gary R. Blockus,The Morning Call

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Arizona, here they come, and Kurt Warner had better watch out.

What the Philadelphia Eagles possessed in patience and trust, the New York Giants lacked in sense of urgency yesterday. Donovan McNabb and Brent Celek scored touchdowns while Eli Manning could do little more than produce field-goal drives.

The result earned the Eagles a shocking 23-11 win over New York at Giants Stadium and gave them a trip to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in the NFC championship game Sunday. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants were left at home after John Carney missed two field-goal attempts and New York failed to produce a touchdown.

"This is really storybook," McNabb said after the game. "We've been to five NFC championships in 10 years for me."

McNabb, under so much pressure earlier in the season that he was benched during a loss to the Ravens, has the Eagles within one victory of their second Super Bowl appearance in four seasons.

Of course, a great deal of that credit has to go to the defense, which shut down the Giants' running game and forced three turnovers, including an interception by Asante Samuel in the first quarter that led to McNabb's 1-yard touchdown plunge.

While the Eagles' defense was dominating the Giants, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, walking with a cane because of a bad lower back, called the game from the press box rather than the field because of the cold.

"He called it from up there," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "[Penn State coach Joe] Paterno was a good example."

While Johnson was limping, his defense was flying.

"We said, 'Let's just go out there and get it done,' " said defensive end Trent Cole, who had six tackles and knocked down a pass.

While the Eagles' defense bent, it never broke, holding the Giants to 3-for-13 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down.

Philadelphia stopped New York twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter, when the Giants desperately needed to score to stay within reach of the Eagles.

But Philadelphia's offense also played a huge role, particularly during a two-minute drill at the end of the first half that led to a 25-yard field goal by David Akers as time expired, giving the Eagles a 10-8 lead. McNabb completed five straight passes during that drive.

"This team is a team that came together and won some battles," McNabb said. "I think that provided more of a confidence for us going into the second half."

And when it became time to go for the jugular, McNabb delivered a 48-yard pass to rookie DeSean Jackson that set up a 20-yard field goal by Akers with 3:58 left to add humiliation to embarrassment for the Giants, who got off to a franchise-record 11-1 start this season before going 1-4 in the final five games.

Philadelphia is on a roll, winning its third straight game and sixth in its past seven after sneaking into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the final game of the season. The Eagles started their string of success after blowing out the Cardinals, 48-20, in a Thanksgiving night game at Lincoln Financial Field.

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