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Homeward bound

Eagles earn home playoff date by bouncing Bengals

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Posted: Sunday December 24, 2000 4:50 PM
Updated: Monday December 25, 2000 12:26 PM

  Charles Johnson Philadelphia wide receiver Charles Johnson dives across the goal line for a touchdown. AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles capped a superb turnaround by clinching a home playoff game. They can't wait to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Donovan McNabb completed 23 of 40 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown as the Eagles beat the Cincinnati Bengals 16-7 on Sunday. When Green Bay beat Tampa Bay, it assured that next week's wild-card game with the Buccaneers would be in Philadelphia.

"It's definitely to our advantage, playing here against a warm-weather team," said Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. "This is a tough place to play. We got the crazy fans and the turf."

Tampa still has never won a game (0-19) when the temperature at kickoff was 40 or below.

After winning just eight games combined over the last two seasons, the Eagles went 11-5 despite losing star running back Duce Staley in Week 5. It will be Philadelphia's first playoff appearance in four years.

But the team isn't satisfied with just making the playoffs.

"You won't see guys jumping around the locker room just because we have a playoff berth or we won 11 games, because that's something we feel should have been expected," McNabb said.

Cincinnati (4-12) completed its 10th consecutive losing season, and has the NFL's worst record in that span, 47-113. But head coach Dick LeBeau, who took over Sept. 25 after Bruce Coslet quit, received a new contract earlier in the week.

Star running back Corey Dillon might not return next year, however. Dillon, who finished with a team-record 1,435 yards rushing, is a free agent. He had 39 yards on 16 carries against the Eagles.

"I've learned these players are fighters," LeBeau said. "They'll keep fighting and that's something to build on. We know we have a lot of work to do."

One play after Bobby Taylor recovered a fumble by Danny Farmer, McNabb hit Charles Johnson on a 39-yard TD pass for a 10-0 second-quarter lead. David Akers made it 13-0 on a 45-yard FG with 1:06 left in the first half. He missed a 41-yarder wide right late in the fourth, ending a string of 11 successful kicks in a row.

The Eagles were hurt by four turnovers, including two fumbles by Chris Warren, who started at running back in his first game. Warren, signed Dec. 7 after being waived by Dallas, had 42 yards rushing on 15 carries.

"The balls were very slippery," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. "They put a coating on the turf to dethaw the ice."

Cincinnati cut it to 13-7 on a 17-yard TD pass from Scott Mitchell to Peter Warrick with 3:12 left. But the Eagles recovered an onside kick, and Akers kicked a 33-yard FG to ice it with 1:48 left.

Akers gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal in the first period. Philadelphia needed 18 plays to drive 61 yards. A 5-yard TD pass from McNabb to Torrance Small was negated by a pass interference on Small.

Warren, signed to improve a struggling rushing attack, fumbled inside Philadelphia's 20 late in the third quarter, but the Bengals couldn't do anything and Neil Rackers hit the goalpost on a 31-yard field goal.

"They gave us chances, but we couldn't capitalize," Mitchell said. "We've had a lot of games like that."

Warren again fumbled at Cincinnati's 5 midway through the fourth quarter.

"I was kind of on my heels all day," Warren said. "I had fumbles. I can't make any excuses. It's something I've got to work on."

Notes: A member of the chain crew was in stable condition after being injured during the first quarter on a punt play. ... Eagles TE Chad Lewis, a first-time Pro Bowler, had nine catches for 66 yards. ... The Bengals are 0-33 on the road against teams with a winning record since 1990. ... Philadelphia hadn't won 11 games since 1992. .. The Eagles allowed 245 points this season, one point more than the 1991 defense, considered among the best in NFL history. ... Eagles RB Darnell Autry left the game late in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return. ... Bengals LB Takeo Spikes had two fumble recoveries.

Related information
SI's King: Martz likely to fire entire defensive staff
Bengals-Eagles Game Summary
Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb expected the Eagles to be in the playoffs all year. (106 K)
Safety Brian Dawkins says the Eagles are not satisfied with just making the playoffs. (81 K)
Philadelphia defensive end Hugh Douglas says the Eagles will be playing with a lot of intensity in the postseason. (69 K)
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