|McNabb's turn to play hero for Eagles with season on line|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 December 2007 14:27|
The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback has bailed the Philadelphia Eagles out of enough jams throughout his career that he doesn't need anyone to tell him how to rescue a team.
After missing two games with ankle and thumb injuries, McNabb returns to the starting lineup when the Eagles (5-7) host the New York Giants (8-4) on Sunday in a matchup of NFC East teams heading in opposite directions.
It's almost a do-or-die situation for Philly, which is dangerously close to missing the playoffs for the second time in three years following four straight appearances in the conference championship game.
When McNabb went down with a season-ending knee injury last year, Garcia led the Eagles to five straight wins down the stretch and a division title. But A.J. Feeley couldn't deliver in McNabb's absence this time around, throwing crucial interceptions in the final minutes against New England and Seattle.
So, now it's McNabb's turn to play hero.
``I don't have anything to prove,'' he said. ``I've proven a lot throughout my career. Now it's time for us, as a team, to win these ballgames. That's the only thing that I really have in my mind, for us to win these ballgames.''
The Eagles are one of eight teams within one game of the final playoff spot. They probably have to win the last four to have a shot, but the schedule is daunting. After the Giants, the Eagles play at Dallas and New Orleans. The Saints ended Philly's playoff run last January, but that's looking too far ahead.
``There's no secret we have to win every game from here on out,'' linebacker Takeo Spikes said. ``Before we talk about the other three, the Giants are the most important.''
The Giants find themselves in a comfortable position as the weather gets colder and winning games becomes imperative. They have a two-game lead in the wild-card standings with four remaining. New York could clinch a playoff spot and secure the No. 5 seed by next week, meaning its final two games would be meaningless and several banged-up players could get much-needed rest.
Leading rusher Derrick Ward was the latest to go down for the Giants. Ward broke his leg against Chicago last Sunday, but opening day starter Brandon Jacobs is expected to return this week after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
``We've been able to put our best foot forward,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ``We have guys that are in a position that have to play. You get some injuries, but you have to rely on players who have practiced and that are ready to go and then you play with them.''
When these teams met in September, the Giants tied an NFL record by sacking McNabb 12 times during a 16-3 victory. The Eagles were missing halfback Brian Westbrook and left tackle William Thomas. Rookie Winston Justice filled in for Thomas and got abused by Osi Umenyiora, who had six sacks. Correll Buckhalter ran for 103 yards in Westbrook's absence, but he isn't nearly the same threat and isn't as good a blocker.
``I don't think they are going to let that happen again,'' Umenyiora said. ``If it does, someone could lose their job, and I am not talking about the players, it would probably be a coach. I don't think they will ever let that happen again.''
Giants QB Eli Manning has endured some of his worst games against Philadelphia. He took his first career sack on a crushing hit by Jerome McDougle in the 2004 season opener and has gone down 22 times in seven regular-season games against the Eagles.
Manning has been inconsistent this season, but threw a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes to lead the Giants over the Bears last Sunday.
``The Eagles are always tough,'' Manning said. ``They're a good defense. They throw a lot of different looks, a lot of different blitzes, so you have to be prepared for a lot of different things. The thing that they do well is that they show a lot of things just one time, one or two times, and they don't come back to it, so you're going to see some new looks. You have to make some adjustments.''
The Eagles ended New York's season last year with a 23-20 victory in a wild-card game. The Giants could all but eliminate Philly with a win Sunday.