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Philadelphia freedom

Titans escape with 15-13 win against scrappy Eagles

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Posted: Sunday December 03, 2000 4:54 PM
Updated: Monday December 04, 2000 12:40 PM

  Al Del Greco Al Del Greco had to push through three field goals of 40 or more yards, including the 50-yard game-winner. AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- So much for the questions about Al Del Greco.

The 38-year-old Tennessee kicker, who missed two field goals and an extra point to cost the Titans two games in the last three weeks, kicked a 50-yarder as time expired Sunday to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 15-13.

"There have been questions about our kicker, about his technique, about his mental toughness," Titans head coach Jeff Fisher said. "I kept saying he was going to pull out of it. There wasn't a bigger kick than that last one, and that's a tribute to Al and what he's been through."

It was the fifth field goal of the game for Del Greco, and it put the Titans (10-3) a game ahead of Baltimore in the AFC Central and tied in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs with Oakland, which lost 21-20 to Pittsburgh.

It also broke a four-game winning streak for Philadelphia (9-5), dropping them a half-game behind the New York Giants (9-4) in the NFC East. The Eagles could have clinched a wild-card berth with a win.

SI's Don Banks
  • Insider: The sincerity was obvious. Only the logic was flawed. And for one of the few times Sunday, Donovan McNabb wasn't all that convincing in his role.
  • What We Learned: Among the three things we learned Sunday: The Eagles' roster includes the most talented Trotter since Curley Neal. 

    "We've lost before," Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "I think when you lose a game like this, your confidence is still there. We played extremely hard, and it could have gone either way. But it's a lot easier to bounce back from a loss like this than to bounce back from a blowout."

    This was a field-goal duel for 3 1/2 quarters between two of the best defensive teams in the NFL -- four for Del Greco to two for Philadelphia's David Akers. Even Eddie George, who ran 32 times for 101 yards for Tennessee, went backward almost as often as he went forward.

    Del Greco missed an extra point and a potential game-winning field-goal attempt against Baltimore, and last week missed a field-goal try that would have put the Titans ahead late in a game they lost 16-13 in Jacksonville.

    But he was perfect on Sunday. His fourth field goal, a 44-yarder with 5:23 left, put the Titans ahead by six.

    "It's been a rough two weeks," Del Greco said. "I've been looking at myself and it was a focus problem. As long as we win, I don't care if I make any field goals. I'd much rather win by 24 or 28."

    But after falling behind, the Eagles came alive.

    McNabb, held largely in check by a Tennessee defense that sacked him five times, threw a 45-yard pass to Todd Pinkston on third-and-10 from his own 23, then completed three more passes before scrambling in from the 2 with 3:11 left, giving the Eagles a 13-12 lead.

      Donovan McNabb Tennessee's Greg Favors (middle) and Eddie Robinson combine to sack Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. AP

    Philadelphia, held the Titans on one series, but the Titans got the ball back with 1:43 left on their own 36 after McNabb threw an incomplete pass on third-and-nine, saving Tennessee 30 seconds on the clock.

    Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said he had no regrets about trying for the first down.

    "We were going to seal it right there," he said. "If we get a first down, the game's over and that's how we approached it."

    Steve McNair hit Derrick Mason twice on the sideline, hit Chris Sanders with two more passes and got the ball to the Philadelphia 32, allowing Del Greco to try from the 50.

    It was straight through the uprights.

    McNabb, who scrambled for 128 yards in the Eagles' win in Washington last week, ran for 37 yards this week in seven carries. He was 18-or-39 for 239 yards.

    McNair finished 23-of-37 for 210 yards.

    The teams were tied at 6 at halftime on two field goals each by Del Greco and Akers. Del Greco was successful from 26 and 42 yards, Akers from 23 and 40.

    Tennessee controlled the ball for most of the half, using up more than nine minutes on their first field-goal drive and nearly 6 minutes on the second. Tennessee had the ball for 20 minutes and five seconds of the 30 minutes played.

    The Titans made it 9-6 on their first possession of the second half on Del Greco's 22-yarder after Tennessee drove from its own 20 to the Philadelphia 4, using up another 6:37 on the clock.

    Finally, it came down in the end to Del Greco.

    "I just closed my eyes and listened to the crowd and heard the silence," Tennessee defensive end Jevon Kearse said.

    Notes: The Tennessee win was the first time the franchise has ever beaten Philadelphia. The Eagles won the first six against the old Houston Oilers dating back to 1970. ... This was the first time in 11 games that McNabb did not throw a touchdown pass. ... McNair left the game for a series with a twisted right knee and ankle, but returned to finish. ... The Titans are 22-1 in games in which George has carried 27 or more times.

    Related information
    SI's King: Expect Reeves, Riley to return in 2001
    Titans-Eagles Game Summary
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