PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Donovan McNabb cracked a joke last week when asked his thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles being labeled a ``dangerous'' team by Sports Illustrated.
``Well, they called the Cardinals dangerous, too,'' McNabb said with a smile. ``It's a regional copy. Everybody's dangerous.''
McNabb didn't have to single out the Cardinals, so his quip came across as an unintentional diss. The quarterback and the rest of Philadelphia better respect Arizona now.
The Cardinals (11-7) upset Carolina to advance to the NFC championship for the first time since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They'll host the Eagles (11-6-1) on Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. This game is nothing new for McNabb, who's led Philly this far five times in eight years. But the Eagles still haven't hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
nce. Oddsmakers list Philadelphia as a 3-point favorite on the road, a rarity in conference championships.
``Just watching their game against Carolina, and the first game they won last week, this team is continuing to jell,'' McNabb said. ``Everyone talked about them not being able to win on the East coast, and then to be able to go down to Carolina when everyone expected them to lose by a lot, and to win by a lot, the team just continued to jell.''
Eagles coach Andy Reid brought his players together back at the team's practice facility following Sunday's 23-11 win at the New York Giants. He gave them two days off before returning to practice Wednesday but wanted to make sure everyone left knowing they'd be facing a formidable opponent.
``This will be a different football team that we will see out there,'' he said. ``I've had a chance to go through the last four games of their season, and it's very obvious when you put on the film.
``Schematically, they're doing some different things, way more aggressive from the defensive standpoint. Offensively, they've always been aggressive, but they've got the run game going. The offensive line is playing better. You already know they have a good coaching staff. I mean, they have one of the finest staffs around in schemes and so on, guys that know how to win games. They're playing very good football right now.''
going in opposite directions. The Eagles had fallen to 5-5-1 after a lopsided loss at Baltimore in which McNabb got benched for the first time in his career. They seemed headed for their third last-place finish since losing the 2005 Super Bowl to New England, and Reid and McNabb got most of the blame.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals had a comfortable lead in the NFC West and were on the verge of clinching their first division title in 33 years.
But the Eagles controlled the game right from the start, jumping to a 21-0 lead and never looking back. They held the ball nearly 40 minutes, racked up 437 total yards and got four touchdown passes from McNabb and four TDs from Brian Westbrook. The defense intercepted Kurt Warner three times and held the Cardinals to 260 yards, much of it coming after the outcome was decided.
Both teams have brushed that game off, however. The Eagles played like a team intent on saving its season. The Cardinals looked tired after a long flight during a short week, and may have enjoyed too much turkey in their pre-game meal.
Arizona's defense has stepped up in the playoffs, shutting down the league's No. 2 and No. 3 rushing teams - Atlanta and Carolina. The Cardinals also have forced nine turnovers.
``We have a feeling of what they like to do, especially on the defensive side,'' McNabb said. ``We know that they're a blitzing team, and they'll probably be blitzing more than they showed in that Thanksgiving game. Defensively, they get pressure from Bertrand Berry and Adrian Wilson and the rest of those guys who are really playing at a high level.''

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