PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Blown chances leading to two straight losses weren't enough to extinguish the Philadelphia Eagles' playoff hopes - not in the mediocre NFC.
With the expected return of starting quarterback Donovan McNabb from an injured ankle and thumb, coach Andy Reid is talking about opportunity and playoffs in the same breath.
``We still have an opportunity here to win some football games with four games left,'' Reid said Monday. ``We put ourselves in a nice position here for postseason play.''
Those are strong words from the coach of a 5-7 team with four tough games remaining. Surely this Eagles team is running out of second chances.
The Eagles are one of five NFC teams at 5-7, a game behind three 6-6 teams (Arizona, Detroit, Minnesota) in the sixth through eighth spots in the conference. Philadelphia has games remaining against the Giants (8-4), Dallas (11-1), New Orleans (5-7) and Buffalo (6-6 in the AFC).
The Birds are getting dangerously close to missing the playoffs for the second time in three years after reaching the NFC championship game four straight seasons.
Getting McNabb back might be one reason for Reid's optimism.
Reid said he expects McNabb to practice on Wednesday. That would be the first time the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback works out with someone other than a trainer since spraining his right ankle and jamming his thumb in a win over Miami on Nov. 18.
McNabb worked hard last week to try to be ready for the Seattle game, but was unable to go.
Reid grew tired of repeated questions about McNabb and the decision to keep him out of the Seattle game, answering a reporter's inquiry with: ``Why does this matter?''
Reid is unsure whether McNabb will be rusty because of the time away from the game.
``He might. I don't know that,'' Reid said. ``I've seen him come off injuries before and play pretty well. But, I can't say absolutely not.
``Last week, he worked as hard as you can work with an injury to make sure he kept his timing up. He moved around well last week. As the week went on, he got a little bit better.''
Before looking forward, the Eagles might want to glance back and take inventory of all that went wrong in the loss to Seattle, especially coming off what could be termed a ``good loss'' to heavily favored New England. The consecutive losses could wind up being two of the most crippling wasted opportunities of an inconsistent season.
In both games, the Eagles were mounting comebacks late in the fourth quarter, only to have backup quarterback A.J. Feeley throw interceptions at the most inopportune times.
Two weeks ago, the Patriots' Asante Samuel had two of three picks off Feeley, the last halting a late drive. On Sunday, Lofa Tatupu intercepted three passes, the third in the final minute to help the Seahawks hang on to a 28-24 win.
Reid detailed a laundry list of shortcomings against Seattle, yet stated his belief that the playoffs were a possibility.
``We've got to do a better job with turnovers,'' the coach said. ``Anytime you spot a team 14 points in the first half with turnovers, that's too much.''
Then there was the Eagles going 0-for-3 in the red zone and the team's inability to sustain a drive in the second half, failing to score on its last eight possessions.
Reid wasn't ready to pin all the blame on Feeley, who completed 19 of 42 passes for 220 yards against the Seahawks.
``Some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL went through days like this,'' Reid said. ``It was a bad day to have a bad day.''
Through it all, Reid believes the Eagles can make a run at the postseason, despite the inability to solve the woes that have caused so much angst this season.
With eye to the postseason, Reid was quick to point out that the team's focus is squarely on the Giants, who had 12 sacks in a 16-3 win in the teams' first meeting in late September.
Just another opportunity in a season of extra chances.
Notes: DT Brodrick Bunkley had an MRI exam on his injured knee Monday. Reid didn't know the results of the test, but said the team's 2006 first-round draft pick would be ``fine.'' ... Cornerback Lito Sheppard is listed as day-to-day with knee inflammation, and Reid said SS Quintin Mikell, who missed Sunday's game with a knee injury, is improving.

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