Posted: Monday February 7, 2005 2:30AM; Updated: Monday February 7, 2005 2:30AM
It's easy, maybe, to blame the Eagles for cracking under the pressures of the big game. McNabb hadn't been to the Super Bowl before. Most of the Eagles had not.
It's probably just as easy to give credit to the dynastic Patriots, a team that seems not to beat other teams as much as it makes other teams beat themselves. The Patriots have won the last three Super Bowls they've played in -- and three of the last four Super Bowls overall -- by a total of nine points.
The Patriots got the proper amount of respect from the downtrodden Eagles after the game. Still, the Eagles wanted it known that they didn't play their best game.
"They move around so much, but I think most of the turnovers came from our mistakes," said Smith, who lost a fumble when he tried to eke out a couple of extra yards after a catch. "It's all about which team makes which other team pay."
Strangely, the Patriots didn't score any points directly after Philly turnovers. But that may be what bugs the Eagles the most. McNabb's first interception came with Philly trying for the end zone, the first time all season it had turned the ball over in the red zone. Smith's fumble came near midfield, as did McNabb's second interception. And the last interception was pure desperation as time was running out.
Taking care of the ball in any of those drives could have changed the complexion of the game. Together, they ruined the Eagles' dream of a huge upset.
After the game, McNabb faced the media and dutifully answered the questions. He was proud, he said, of the way the Eagles played on Sunday and the way they blew through the regular season. He was elated with how his team finally got over the hump and won the NFC Championship, advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time in 24 years.
But when it comes to Sunday's Super Bowl game, McNabb won't look back on it fondly. He might not look back on it at all, if he can help it.
"Three interceptions. I don't look at the touchdowns. I don't look at any of that," said McNabb, who threw for 357 yards and three TDs. "As the quarterback, you want to make sure you take care of the ball. Turnovers kill you, and they hurt us today."
Unfortunately for McNabb and the Eagles, those turnovers will hurt for a long, long time.