Terrell Owens may have to wait until the postseason to do any more end zone celebrations.
Owens suffered what appeared to be a serious right ankle injury but the Philadelphia Eagles clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a lackluster 12-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
One of the game's elite wide receivers who is known for his
exuberant touchdown celebrations and for transforming the Eagles
into an explosive offense, Owens was injured on the second play
from scrimmage in the third quarter after being tackled from
behind by hard-hitting safety Roy Williams.
"He'll have an MRI in the morning," Eagles coach Andy Reid said
of Owens, who did not meet with the media. "We'll see how the
MRI goes, but the positive is that it wasn't broken. The
negative is that it did swell up."
Owens, who leads the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns, had his
leg get caught in the turf after he was collared by Williams.
Owens limped to the sidelines before being helped to the locker
room, where X-rays were negative.
"I think, for all of us, it was kind of a wakeup call," Eagles
quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "A man goes down, someone else
has to step up. One thing we have to understand is that we have
been to three NFC championships without T.O."
Owens left the game with two receptions for 24 yards. He reached
the 1,200-yard mark in receiving for the fourth time in his
"You don't want guys hurt," Reid said. "That's the bottom line,
but things happen and you move on."
Playing poorly before Owens got hurt, the Eagles (13-1)
sputtered without him before Donovan McNabb engineered a late
nine-play, 64-yard drive.
On the winning drive, McNabb had consecutive runs of 12 and 19
yards, moving the Eagles to the Cowboys 20.
"I can't say enough good things about (McNabb)," Reid said. "He
put us right on his back and we went. That's what makes him such
a great player."
McNabb then came through with his arm with an 11-yard completion
to speedy running back Brian Westbrook on a 3rd-and-9 play to
the Dallas 8.
After Dorsey Levens ran for six yards, the veteran running back
capped the drive with a two-yard TD plunge, giving the Eagles a
12-7 lead with 1:57 remaining.
"This is big for me," Levens said. "At my age and being at this
point in my career, I wanted to play with a team that can win."
McNabb had struggled before the winning drive. He went 20-of-35
for 223 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and lost a
fumble deep in his own territory which set up the Cowboys' only
"I think what we've shown the last two weeks is the fact that we
continue to fight, no matter what the situation is," McNabb
Westbrook had eight catches for 78 yards for the Eagles, who
have homefield for the third straight season. Of course it has
not mattered the last two seasons when the Eagles lost the NFC
championship game. They have lost the last three title games.
"We always want to play at home because we have the best fans in
the NFL," said Westbrook, who leads all NFL running backs with
73 receptions. "It is still important as a team to play hard and
keep that momentum and rhythm going into the playoffs."
Vinny Testaverde's hopes of engineering a winning drive for the
Cowboys ended when he was intercepted by cornerback Lito Sheppard inside Philadelphia territory with 1:33 remaining.
"We had opportunities to put the game away at times," Testaverde
said. "It's been the same all year. We've made mistakes when we
had opportunities to win the game. It's a frustrating feeling."
Testaverde threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson
late in the first half for the Cowboys (5-9), whose postseason
hopes all but ended.
"I would assume after this game that we should be canceled out,"
Johnson said. "I do not think we could go into the playoffs at
7-9, but stranger things have happened. I think right now, we
just have to worry about Washington (next week)."
With a chance to increase the Cowboys' 7-6 lead, Billy Cundiff
missed a 46-yard field goal with 6:04 remaining in the fourth
"That was a really big play in the game," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "It would have forced (Philadelphia) to go in and
score under a little different set of circumstances because
time would have been against them."
McNabb tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chad Lewis
early in the second quarter for Philadelphia, which beat Dallas
for the ninth time in 10 meetings while setting a franchise
record for wins in a season.
The Eagles also finished 6-0 against NFC East opponents and
improved to 11-0 overall against teams from the NFC.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten had six catches for 66 yards. His
73 receptions for the season broke the club mark previously
held by Jay Novacek with 68 in 1992.
"It's disappointing," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "It would
have really helped our team in the future to win this ballgame."
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