Revenge? 4-0 Eagles Just Focused on Winning

A lot has changed since the Carolina Panthers' 14-3 win over the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last January. Both team's will enter the Linc Sundays afternoon heading in opposite directions, while the Eagles are attempting to shrug off any thoughts of revenge.

A lot has changed since the Carolina Panthers' 14-3 win over the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last January. While the Eagles have rolled to four season-opening, double-digit victories and look like a good bet to make it to the conference title game for the fourth straight year, the Panthers are struggling. They are 1-3 and really can't afford to drop to 1-4. The rematch is scheduled for Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Something else that's changed since January is the Eagles' offense. In the NFC title game, the Eagles were held to one field David Akers field goal and 289 offensive yards. Quarterback Donovan McNabb completed just 10 of 22 passes and their two starting wideouts, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, combined for just one catch for nine yards.

But the Eagles didn't have Terrell Owens, who still was playing for the San Francisco 49ers. And they didn't have playmaking running back Brian Westbrook, who tore the triceps tendon in his right arm in the Eagles' final regular-season game and sat out the playoffs.

With Owens and with Westbrook, the offense has been outstanding in the first quarter of the season. They're third in the league in total offense, averaging 387.3 yards per game, and are fourth in points per game (26.7). McNabb is second in the NFC in completion percentage (68.1), yards per attempt (8.11) and touchdowns (9) and has thrown just one interception in 144 attempts. And that came on a deflection.

"Anytime you add a weapon like T.O., it helps," McNabb said. "But other guys are stepping up and making plays as well." While the Eagles want to beat the Panthers Sunday, a victory hardly will wash the bad taste of January's playoff loss out of their mouth.

"I won't put the word 'revenge' on it," free safety Brian Dawkins said. "To me, it's not revenge unless we both get back to the NFC Championship Game and we win. The ultimate goal last year was to go to the Super Bowl. They beat us to go there. If we beat them Sunday, all we do is go to the next game. So it's a little different."

The Eagles learned their lesson about avenging playoff losses last year. After losing to the Tampa Bay Bucs in the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago, they faced the Bucs in a Week 1 rematch last year. The Eagles ended up getting slammed 17-0.

"Somewhere in our minds, we know this team knocked us out of the chance to go to the Super Bowl," linebacker Ike Reese said. "But we can't let that be at the forefront of our emotions this week.

"I'm not saying don't think about it. But we can't be overwhelmed by it. That was the downfall against Tampa last year. Everybody wanted revenge, revenge, revenge. We got all wound up and forgot how to execute. We went out there and played like we'd never played football before. I don't think you're going to see the guys get caught up in the emotion of wanting to play Carolina back."

SERIES HISTORY: 5th meeting. Series is tied 2-2. The teams met twice last year, with the Eagles beating the Panthers in late November and the Panthers beating the Eagles 14-3 in the NFC Championship Game. The Panthers defense held quarterback Donovan McNabb to 100 net passing yards and the Eagles' two starting wideouts to one catch for nine yards.

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