Sportsman of the Year
Life of Reilly
SI for Kids
SI Customer Service
SI Media Kits
Get into College
Test of time
Inexperienced Eagles have other factors in their favor
Posted: Thursday December 28, 2000 8:12 PM
Troy Vincent led the Eagles with five interceptions and was second with 72 tackles. Jamie Squire/Allsport
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles have the home-field advantage and cold weather on their side.
But if experience becomes the deciding factor, give the edge to the Tampa Bay Bucs.
After consecutive last-place finishes and winning just eight games in the previous two seasons, the Eagles went 11-5 and earned the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs.
But Tampa Bay (10-6) was less than five minutes from the Super Bowl last January when Kurt Warner's 30-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl gave the St. Louis Rams an 11-6 victory in the NFC Championship Game.
|Paul Wiggin, the Minnesota Vikings' director of pro personnel, will have a keen eye on this weekend's playoff games. Wiggin, who has spent more than 40 years in the NFL, is responsible for league-wide player evaluation and advance scouting of opponents. Wiggin breaks down the Bucs-Eagles wild-card matchup for CNNSI.com:
The Bucs will beat the Eagles if ... they keep Donovan McNabb from making first downs. He's a master of making first downs. He makes more first downs probably than anybody in football. I can't believe how many times he moves the chains by himself. McNabb is as important to that team as any player is to any team in football. The Bucs have to minimize him, and if they do that -- even though the Eagles are a good team defensively -- that will be enough.
The Eagles will beat the Bucs if ... they match Tampa Bay's defense and let McNabb do it for them on offense. The thing is, McNabb is going to have to be better than the combination of Shaun King, Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott and Keyshawn Johnson. He's one man who'll have to offset what four guys can do, and he might be able to do it. That's how good he is. I was so impressed with him last week, and they were playing for very little against Cincinnati. He can do an awful lot of things for a team.
| || |
The Eagles and Bucs meet Sunday in the last of this weekend's NFL wild-card games.
"We have a lot of guys who haven't been there," Eagles tight end Luther Broughton said. "Maybe that means we don't know about it, so we don't feel the pressure. We're just playing it like it's another game."
Only 19 of the 53 players on the Philadelphia roster have been to the playoffs. Among those making their postseason debuts are Pro Bowl selections Hugh Douglas and Jeremiah Trotter.
Only Troy Vincent, Mike Mamula, Bobby Taylor, Hollis Thomas, Brian Dawkins, Jermane Mayberry and Bubba Miller were Eagles the last time Philadelphia was in the playoffs, in 1996.
Head coach Andy Reid has been to the postseason as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers and won a Super Bowl. So, he asked his players and coaches with playoff experience to help prepare the others this week.
"It's important that they step up and be an example," Reid said. "They have to just understand that things are a little faster and more aggressive every step you take through the playoffs."
Reid says focus is even more important now because distractions are magnified in the playoffs.
Donovan McNabb, the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, sat home while Shaun King, a second-round pick, became just the second rookie quarterback to win a playoff game since 1970.
|Eagles hope clean turf |
|PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A carpet-cleaning company was brought in to steam-clean the artificial turf at Veterans Stadium after the Philadelphia Eagles complained that the dirty surface made the ball too slippery.
Head coach Andy Reid and several players complained the ball was slick during last Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Reid said after the game that the substance used to thaw the field had made the ball difficult to hold onto and throw.
The Eagles lost three fumbles and Cincinnati lost two in Philadelphia's 16-7 victory. The Eagles play host to Tampa Bay in an NFC wild-card game Sunday.
Team officials claimed that calcium chloride, a substance that supposedly leaves an oily residue, was put on the field.
After steam-cleaning the turf Wednesday, the city planned to paint the field Thursday and put a tarp over it.
McNabb doesn't have King's playoff experience, but he had a better season. He threw for 3,365 yards and 21 touchdowns, added a team-high 629 yards rushing and six TDs, and finished second to Marshall Faulk in the league's MVP voting.
McNabb also played in big games at Syracuse, and he's ready for the intensity of the NFL playoffs.
"We know the tempo of the game will be a little faster," he said. "Guys are going to be flying around because it could be your last game of the year, and that's something you really don't want to go out with"
"You want to continue to keep going and take another step toward your goal and that's to go to the championship. You take one game at a time, but the tempo is definitely going to go up another notch and your adrenaline is going to be pumping a little faster."
As for the weather, even the Eagles are downplaying that Tampa has never won a game (0-19) when the temperature at kickoff was 40 or below.
"I laugh at the cold weather," Douglas said, scoffing at the notion that the Eagles need frigid weather to beat the Bucs.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.