PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The
return to the site of their greatest triumph. Don't expect the
to play the role of the happy host.
The teams meet Sunday in a rematch of last January's NFC championship game. Rookie Ricky Manning Jr. intercepted
three times and the Panthers earned their first trip to the Super Bowl with a 14-3 victory.
Philadelphia became the first team to lose the NFC championship game three consecutive seasons since the
turned the dubious hat trick from 1980-82. Only the Eagles have lost back-to-back conference title games at home.
The loss to Carolina convinced Eagles coach Andy Reid he needed to get a playmaker at receiver to help McNabb. And Reid got one of the best, acquiring
from San Francisco.
Now the 5-9 Manning will have to deal with the 6-3 Owens, who has 26 catches for 364 yards and six touchdowns in four games with the Eagles. Over the previous four years with San Francisco, Owens compiled 270 catches for 5,264 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Owens finished the 2003 campaign with 80 catches for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. Eagles starting receivers
combined for 85 catches for 1,133 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Philadelphia also added pass-rushing defensive end
, who has three sacks and will line up against right tackle
, who replaced the departed
The acquisitions have helped the Eagles storm to a 4-0 start. And on Sunday they have a chance to exact a measure of revenge against Carolina and improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1981.
The Panthers are in danger of falling to 1-4 after winning the NFC South title with an 11-5 record last season.
, who rushed for a career-high 1,444 yards last season, will return Sunday after he missed three games due to arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Panthers will be without receiver
and running back
, who played key roles in Carolina's victory over the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Smith drew a pass interference call against cornerback
in the end zone before Foster bounced off four tacklers for a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Smith broke his leg in the season opener and Foster suffered a broken collarbone in the first half of last week's loss at Denver and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.
The Eagles will have
, who did not play in the NFC title game due to an injury. Westbrook has 553 yards from scrimmage - 347 rushing and 206 receiving.
Matchup to watch: Panthers left end
, who had a 101-yard interception return last week in a loss at Denver, lines up against right tackle
Series: Tied, 2-2.
Next week: Carolina hosts San Diego on October 24 Philadelphia visits Cleveland on October 24