As it turns out, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was the difference. T.O. was nothing more than a decoy.
In his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia, Terrell Owens had just three catches and was outdone by the Eagles' young receivers - and by McNabb.
McNabb threw touchdown passes of 40 yards to Reggie Brown and 87 yards to Hank Baskett, and Lito Sheppard returned an interception 102 yards in the final minute to seal the Eagles' 38-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in the most overhyped regular-season game in recent memory.
"This is a total team game," said McNabb, who was 18-of-33 for 354 yards and two touchdowns. "It's not T.O. vs. Donovan. All of us play together."
Owens' homecoming - he helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl in 2004 before a bitter departure midway through last season - dominated the headlines this week, with Philly fans planning a hostile welcome for the star receiver.
But Owens was merely an afterthought for most of the game.
He didn't catch a pass until the third quarter and dropped the next one thrown to him, much to the delight of a frenzied crowd that showered Owens with derisive chants, insults and boos.
"I'm not going to sit up here and point a finger, so you guys can create a story," Owens said afterwards. "It's not about that."
The Eagles took the lead for good when McNabb connected with Brown on a flea-flicker pass with 9:13 left that made it 31-24. Brown, a second-year pro who replaced a suspended Owens in the starting lineup last year, beat rookie safety Patrick Watkins and caught the ball deep in the end zone.
The Cowboys drove to the Eagles 33 on the ensuing drive. But Sheppard intercepted Drew Bledsoe's badly underthrown pass intended for an open Owens.
A frustrated Owens angrily snapped at his chin strap, walked off the field and took his usual spot at the end of the bench.
The Cowboys had one more chance after a pass interference penalty on Michael Lewis allowed them to convert a fourth-and-18 from their 37.
But from the Eagles 6, Sheppard stepped in front of Bledsoe's pass and raced the other way to put the game away.
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