NFL: McNabb back in playoffs
By Bob Baum
Associated PressDonovan McNabb watched the Philadelphia Eagles play their last playoff game like most fans, sitting in front of a television, cheering and chomping on food.
McNabb was sidelined by a knee injury two years ago when Jeff Garcia stepped in and led the Eagles to an NFC East title and a playoff win over the New York Giants. Their run ended against New Orleans.
It’s been four years since McNabb even took a playoff snap in the Super Bowl. He’s most remembered for vomiting ó depending on whose version of the story you believe ó in the fourth quarter of that 24-21 loss to New England.
Much has happened to the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback since that game, and most of it is negative. McNabb was dissed by Terrell Owens and labeled a choker. He’s missed 15 games to injuries and watched the Eagles draft his eventual successor. He got benched, booed and written off only to play his best football down the stretch in crucial games.
Now, McNabb is back in the playoffs, eager to lead the Eagles (9-6-1) against the Minnesota Vikings (10-6) in a wild-card game Sunday.
“It wouldn’t take three or four years for me to say I missed it,” McNabb said. “You miss it after a year. Even when we made it when Jeff took over, I wanted to be in there. I just continued to rally with the guys and tried to motivate them in any way.
“When the time comes, you just don’t want it to end. You want to take care of each opportunity or take care of each chance that you can while you’re in to stay in. That’s something that, obviously, we’re looking forward to this playoffs.”
McNabb was spoiled by early success. In his first full season as the starter in 2000, he helped the Eagles reach the second round of the playoffs and was runner-up for NFL MVP. Philly went to the NFC championship game the next four years, only winning once.
McNabb’s overall record is 82-45-1, and he’s 7-5 in the playoffs. But he was just 17-16 from 2005-07, and critics were ready to run him out of town when it seemed the Eagles weren’t going to make the playoffs this season. Then everything fell in their favor last week, and the Eagles trounced Dallas 44-6 to get the final wild-card spot.
They wouldn’t be here without McNabb, who was outstanding after returning from his first career benching. He had nine touchdown passes and only one interception in the last five games after committing seven turnovers in 11/2 games.
“I’m just excited about the opportunity of getting back out there and playing,” McNabb said. “The team’s looking forward to this opportunity, playing in a hostile environment like Minneapolis. It’s going to be exciting.”