Enough, the Eagles decided earlier this week, is enough.
Weary of dealing with the soap opera that has been life with Terrell Owens, the team suspended the Pro Bowl wide receiver for four games and said that he would not play for them again this season.
The final straw was an Owens interview with ESPN last week in which he called the organization classless for failing to recognize his 100th career touchdown, and yet again threw verbal daggers at Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
When Owens refused to apologize to McNabb and the rest of the team for his comments, they told him hasta la vista.
Even a disappointing 17-10 loss to the Washington Redskins, in which the Eagles mustered just one touchdown and 17 first downs, couldn't make them second-guess their decision to send Owens packing.
"I think we're better off without him," said McNabb, who threw for 304 yards against the Redskins, but saw a potential game-tying drive stall at the Washington 7 when his pass for Greg Lewis was intercepted by Redskins safety Ryan Clark.
"I truly believe that this is a team sport," coach Andy Reid said. "I expect the guys to play together and support each other. I would expect that to continue to improve throughout the remainder of the season."
The decision to suspend Owens was endorsed by almost all of the players in the locker room. While there is a perception that Reid is a dictatorial coach, he has a players committee from which he gets input on team issues. When Owens refused to apologize at a players-only meeting the day before the Washington loss, the committee gave Reid its blessing to do what he felt needed to be done.
"You've got to have camaraderie, chemistry, in order to have performance that gives you victory," Pro Bowl kicker David Akers said.
It's difficult to make a case that the Eagles are a better team without Owens. But McNabb may be right when he said they're better off without him.
Owens had a team-high 47 catches, 763 receiving yards and six touchdowns in the Eagles' first seven games. But the players had grown weary of the whole Owens circus. Even with him, they had lost three of those seven games.
Owens has been replaced in the starting lineup by rookie second-round pick Reggie Brown, who played well in his first start, catching five passes for 94 yards, including a 56-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
"He did a nice job with the things we asked him to do," Reid said. "Can he improve? Absolutely. But for a young guy to step up and do the things he did the other night was impressive."
With Owens gone, McNabb will lean more heavily on running back Brian Westbrook and tight end L.J. Smith in the passing game. Westbrook had four catches for 55 yards against Washington, but Smith left the game early in the third quarter with a concussion and may not play in Monday night's crucial NFC East battle against the Dallas Cowboys.
After the team suspended Owens, the wideout held a news conference with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, in front of his home. Owens read a prepared statement in which he apologized to Reid, McNabb and owner Jeffrey Lurie. If he had made the same apology last Friday, the team probably wouldn't have suspended him.
"Terrell has expressed a great deal of remorse," Rosenhaus said. "In his original statement (after the ESPN interview), he apologized to the team, all of his teammates, to the fans. In his heart, he gave everything he had in being genuine and sincere. Apparently, that wasn't good enough. People obviously didn't accept the first (apology). That's unfortunate. That's not Terrell's fault."
SERIES HISTORY: 93rd meeting. Cowboys lead the series, 52-40. The Eagles had won 9 of 10 games against Dallas dating to the 2000 season before the Cowboys pummeled the Eagles in Dallas last month, 33-10.
Quotes and Notes
--Donovan McNabb's father, Sam McNabb, had some strong things to say about Terrell Owens after the wideout was suspended this week. His son has been a constant target of Owens' venom since the Super Bowl last February.
"Within the last month, we've seen a man who is trying to accomplish something very difficult, to be an African-American quarterback at the top of his game, attacked by someone of his own race," Sam McNabb said. "That's what really amazes me. It's like another black-on-black crime. Those are hurts that create scars that take a long time to heal."
More from Sam McNabb: "There's been far too much press, far too much attention drawn to a situation that couldn't have become anything but a cancer to this team. And as we've learned in medicine, the best way to treat a cancer is to remove it. Not only will it do Donovan a lot better, but I think this whole team will do a lot better."
Even more Sam: "As a father, as a man, as a sports enthusiast, I think this is a sad day. It's another young man with a golden opportunity to do good in his life who opted to take a different stand. The sad side of this is this is a guy who could have been and who was very productive in this system. It's sad that wasn't enough for the guy."
--While the Eagles were waving bye-bye to Owens, they tied up two other important members of the team for a while. Running back Brian Westbrook, who could've become an unrestricted free agent in March, agreed to a five-year contract with the Eagles that is believed to be worth more than $24 million. It includes a $9 million signing bonus. Not bad for a guy who has rushed for 100 yards in a game just twice in his career. Also, Pro Bowl kicker David Akers signed a five-year contract extension through 2010 that makes him the league's highest paid kicker. Akers' extension included a $3 million signing bonus and is believed to average about $2 million a year. Akers had missed four games with a torn hamstring. He returned to the team for Sunday's 17-10 loss to Washington. "Under the situation I was in, being injured, I thought it took a lot of courage, and it showed the faith they had in my abilities and my work ethic," Akers said.
--Veteran tight end Chad Lewis re-signed with the Eagles this week. Lewis, whose contract expired after last season, suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his foot in the Eagles' NFC Championship Game win over Atlanta last January. He caught two touchdown passes in the win. "I worked really hard to get back here," Lewis said. "It's been 9 1/2 months and I have worked every day. It's been a big mountain to climb. It's been a big challenge and I have embraced the challenge and am honored to be here."
--The Eagles finally ended their first-quarter scoring drought Sunday night. They hadn't scored in the first quarter in five games before wide receiver Reggie Brown scored on a 56-yard catch and run against the Redskins. In 25 first-quarter possessions this season, the Eagles have scored just three times. They've been outscored on the road in the first quarter, 55-7.
--The Eagles' once-vaunted pass defense is struggling. Despite the presence of three Pro Bowlers in their secondary, opposing quarterbacks have completed 63 percent of their passes and have averaged 7.99 yards per attempt against the Eagles in the last five games.
BY THE NUMBERS: Eagles running backs have not lost a fumble in 747 rushing attempts over 38 games. The last running back to lose a fumble on a rushing attempt was Correll Buckhalter back on October 3, 2003, against the New York Jets.QUOTE TO NOTE: "This team has done great things when we play as a team. Our team chemistry has been probably the best in the NFL for the last several years and that has made us strong. We have had strong locker room and a strong team." - TE Chad Lewis.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With starting center Hank Fraley out for the season after undergoing surgery Wednesday to repair a torn rotator cuff, second-year man Trey Darilek will make his first NFL start Monday night in an important NFC East battle at home against the Dallas Cowboys. Fraley hadn't been playing particularly well, but he makes all the line calls. His absence could be felt against the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme.
Terrell Owens has been replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Reggie Brown. Billy McMullen, who had been the team's No. 4 receiver, now is the No. 3 man.
--DE N.D. Kalu, who injured his shoulder in last week's game against the Redskins, is listed as doubtful for Monday's game against the Cowboys. He didn't practice Wednesday.
--DE Trent Cole may get his first NFL start this week if starting LE N.D. Kalu, who is listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury, can't play. Cole played a lot last week against Washington and had a sack and forced fumble.
--TE L.J. Smith is listed as questionable with a concussion he suffered in Sunday's loss to the Redskins. He didn't practice Wednesday.
--TE Chad Lewis re-signed with the Eagles Wednesday. Lewis suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his foot in the NFC Championship Game last January. He's been out of football since becoming a free agent in March. There's a possibility he could start Monday night against the Cowboys if the team's other two tight ends, L.J. Smith and Stephen Spach, are unable to play, which is a distinct possibility.
--TE Stephen Spach, the backup to L.J. Smith, is listed as questionable for Monday's game against Dallas with a sprained foot. He didn't practice Wednesday.
GAME PLAN: In the Cowboys' 33-10 win over the Eagles last month, the poor play of the Eagles' special teams was a big reason for the lopsided defeat. Five of the Cowboys' 12 possessions started in Eagles territory. Just two of the Cowboys' scoring drives were longer than 52 yards. The Eagles are hoping their coverage and return teams will prevent a similar scenario this time.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Eagles RB Brian Westbrook vs. Cowboys SS Roy Williams -- The Eagles think they can exploit this matchup in the passing game often Monday night.
INJURY IMPACT: C Hank Fraley, who had surgery on his shoulder Wednesday, was placed on IR. Second-year man Trey Darilek will replace him. There won't be much of a dropoff in talent, but Fraley made all of the line calls for the Eagles. That's where they'll miss him. With Terrell Owens gone, the Eagles can ill afford to be without TE L.J. Smith. But he's listed as questionable after suffering a concussion last week. Veteran Chad Lewis, who just signed with the team Wednesday, could be pressed into service if Smith can't play.
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells took it upon himself to talk to his veterans about showing leadership to the young players this week.
He said this is an important time for the Cowboys, with Monday's showdown against the Eagles beginning a stretch of three games in 11 days.
The team's season could very well be decided by Thanksgiving.
The time is now for the Cowboys to focus on the task at hand and pay attention to detail.
"This is the time of year we really need that," Parcells said. "Some of these rookies haven't been in a game like Monday night is going to be. Monday night on the road, usually there's a little more juice involved. I just try to make sure the veterans are trying to keep the young players on track."
With all the distractions going on surrounding the Eagles and Terrell Owens, it's an even more important point.
The Cowboys expect a motivated Eagles team and a raucous crowd awaiting them Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
And while the Eagles will certainly miss Owens, the Cowboys say Philadelphia remains a dangerous offensive team, especially with Donovan McNabb at quarterback and Brian Westbrook in the backfield.
Look for the Cowboys to approach the Eagles with same respect and the same game plan.
"McNabb is always dangerous," cornerback Aaron Glenn said. "No matter what happens, that team remains one of the top teams in the league. They have people that can make plays. They are going to do what they do. We can't change our approach."
Rookie Reggie Brown replaced Owens against the Eagles and caught five passes for 94 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown reception.
"That guy they put in there did a pretty good job," Parcells said. "He looked pretty good to me."
SERIES HISTORY: 93rd meeting. Dallas leads the series 52-40. Dallas has faced no team more than Philadelphia and has defeated the Eagles more times (52) than all but two teams (Arizona, 55, and Washington, 54). Dallas and Philadelphia have met in two divisional playoff games and an NFC Championship Game. The Cowboys won 11 consecutive games over the Eagles from 1967-1972, marking the second-longest win streak over one opponent in club history. Dallas and Philadelphia have combined to win 21 NFC Eastern Division titles. Philadelphia has won three of the last four head-to-head battles, but the Cowboys won 33-10 on Oct. 9 at Texas Stadium.
Quotes and Notes
--Cowboys coach Bill Parcells hopes the center-quarterback exchange problems, which have resulted in six fumbles this season, are a thing of the past after some extended work during the bye week.
"We filmed that from a very close-up-and-personal angle," Parcells said with a smile. "We did learn something and were able to call it to a couple of people's attention, and hopefully it will make a difference. ... Now that's a concentration part on the quarterback. He has to be conscious about it."
--Running back Anthony Thomas, who was cut by the Cowboys last week, has signed a one-year deal with the Saints.
--Wide receiver Patrick Crayton will be back sooner than previously thought, according to coach Bill Parcells. Crayton was out of the walking boot Monday and on the field Tuesday doing rehab for the first time since undergoing right ankle surgery Oct. 18. Crayton is targeting a Thanksgiving Day return against the Broncos, but says the Giants game Dec. 4 is more realistic.
--Since the NFL instituted a bye week into each team's schedule beginning in the 1990 season, the Cowboys have accumulated an 11-5 record following their off weekend. That mark ties for the fourth-best record in the NFL. Only Minnesota (13-3), Philadelphia (13-4) and Denver (12-4) have more wins immediately following their bye week. Dallas is facing the Eagles following the bye for the third time (1992 and 1993). All three meetings have been in Philadelphia, with Dallas holding a 2-0 record.
--The Cowboys make the second of two "Monday Night Football" appearances this week. The Eagles game will mark Dallas's 67th Monday night contest, with the Cowboys holding a 38-28 record. Dallas's 66 MNF appearances are more than all but one NFL team -- the Miami Dolphins (71) -- and their 38 victories are the second most in MNF history, trailing only Miami (39). Dallas has made at least one appearance on MNF in 33 of the last 36 years, while making multiple appearances 25 times, including this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7-4 - Record of Bill Parcells-coached teams coming out of bye weeks: Giants 1-0, Patriots 2-3, Jets 3-0, Cowboys 1-1.QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have three kids I'll put in the game, and I think they can all carry the ball. I think you better get used to that around here." - Coach Bill Parcells on his three-headed rushing attack of Julius Jones, Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Drew Bledsoe is off to one of the best individual passing starts in club history. His 2,019 passing yards are the second-most passing yards for the first eight games of a season in Cowboys history. At his current pace, Bledsoe would finish with 4,038 passing yards. That number would be a single-season franchise record for passing yards and the first 4,000-yard season in club history. Danny White set the club record with 3,980 yards in 1983.
--WR Terry Glenn is first in the NFC (fourth in the NFL) in yards per catch with an 18.9-yard average. He is fourth in the NFC and eighth in the NFL in receiving yardage with 682.
--WR Keyshawn Johnson leads the team in touchdown receptions with five, and he is tied for fourth in the NFC in touchdown receptions.
--WR Jamaica Rector, a member of the practice squad, has been getting work at cornerback in practice.
--RB Julius Jones will play against the Eagles on Monday after missing the past three games with an ankle injury. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said he plans to use Jones and rookies Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson rather than rely on one back.
"I think now we have a good situation here," Parcells said.
--CB Aaron Glenn is ready to play right cornerback if Anthony Henry can't go against the Eagles because of strained groin.
"I have (played the right side) before, so it's not a problem," Glenn said. "As a corner, you practice on playing both sides."
GAME PLAN: The Cowboys will run the ball and try to control the clock. Having Julius Jones back helps. They will also try to make plays down the field against the Eagles' blitz. Defensively, they must contain quarterback Donovan McNabb and prevent the big play.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Eagles QB Donovan McNabb vs. the Cowboys defense. With Terrell Owens out, McNabb is the Eagles' biggest weapon. Dallas must contain him. Look for the Cowboys to blitz the McNabb unmercifully. He doesn't move as well he once did because of a sports hernia.
--Cowboys running game vs. Eagles defense. The Eagles are suspect against the run. Considering their blitzing style, they can be gashed up the middle. Julius Jones ran for 72 yards in the first half alone against the Eagles during the first meeting before suffering an ankle injury. He will be looking to pick up where he left off when he returns from a three-week layoff.
--CB Anthony Henry remains questionable with a strained groin. If he can't go, look for Aaron Glenn to start in his place.
In their last two games, the Giants have allowed a total of 263 yards, and yes, that comes to 132.5 per game.
That's not just good, it's great, and even such a rigidly controlled interviewee as coach Tom Coughlin will admit it, however grudgingly.
"I would have to say we have played very well, outstanding, the last two weeks," he said. "We have gotten good play out of our front four. We have been in real good position. I think our (pass) coverage, except for a couple of times, has been better."
Part of the reason is the performance of two lesser-known starters, defensive tackle William Joseph and weakside linebacker Nick Greisen. Joseph was the team's first-round draft pick in 2003 and until the start of this season had been a bust. Greisen was a fourth-round pick in 2002 but hadn't started until this year, when injuries thrust him into the role.
"I think anybody who makes it to an NFL roster," Greisen says, "should be expected to play when called upon. I mean, these are the best players in the world. You would expect them to prove that when the opportunity shows up. That's why we're here. That's why we play the game."
Through eight games, Greisen has 34 tackles (and six special teams tackles) to go along with three forced fumbles (best on the team), two recovered fumbles (best on the team), two passes defensed. "I am just loving this," says the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder from Wisconsin.
Greisen's chance came when veteran Barrett Green failed to fully recover from knee surgery he underwent last year. This summer in training camp it became obvious that Green, signed as a free agent from Detroit in the spring of 2004, just wasn't going to make it.
So Coughlin and defensive coordinator Tim Lewis juggled things around and put strongside starter Carlos Emmons on the weak side, elevated second-year player Reggie Torbor to the strong-side starter and left middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, the team's tackling leader, where he was.
Then Torbor wasn't doing so well, so Emmons went back to the strong side. That opened the door for Greisen. Now Emmons is hurt, and Torbor (who's playing better) is back on the strong side, but Greisen is still on the weak side. Green has been placed on injured reserve, and so the job is Greisen's for the rest of the season.
Joseph, the 6-5, 315-pounder out of the University of Miami, doesn't like to speak much - except when he's talking about his college team's exploits. But he has 15 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and has batted down three passes.
And when the team allows just 132.5 total yards per game, what would he have to be unhappy about?
SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 18th meeting between the Giants and the Vikings, with Minnesota holding a 9-8 lead. But the Giants have won four of the last five, three in Minneapolis, and that includes the 41-0 shellacking of the Vikings in the 2000 NFC Championship Game.
Quotes and Notes
--There is still some doubt that strongside linebacker Carlos Emmons will be able to play this week. He has missed the last two games with a partially torn right pectoral muscle, and he hasn't practiced yet this week.
--Wide recveiver David Tyree (elbow) will practice on a limited basis and might be OK for Sunday against the Vikings.
--Rookie defensive end Justin Tuck (ankle) also didn't practice and at this point is day-to-day.
--Weakside linebacker Nick Greisen (ribs) will practice near the end of the week and is expected to play.
--The Giants have 11 interceptions, and not one of them has been recorded by either of the cornerbacks who opened the season. Right cornerback Will Peterson (lower back) will probably miss the rest of the season. The diagnosis should be confirmed in a week or two after a final medical exam. Left cornerback Will Allen, who hasn't missed a game, has missed several opportunities for interceptions. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, reserve strong safety Shaun Williams and free safety Brent Alexander have two each.
--Tight end Sean Berton, signed as a free agent on Sept. 4, was a member of the Vikings the past two years. He believes things are much more comfortable around the Giants.
"There is more discipline here," he said, "and it's really different how the two organizations are run."
Berton didn't have much time with the new owner, Zygi Wilf, but he just smiled when asked about the "Love Boat" incident last month. "That was the first time they did that," he said with a laugh, "and probably the last."
--Wide receiver Amani Toomer, in his 10th (and possibly last) season with the Giants, has just 24 catches for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he denies any jealousy at the attention paid by quarterback Eli Manning to receiver Plaxico Burress and tight end Jeremy Shockey.
"The way Eli distributes the ball, it makes things a lot tougher for defenses," Toomer said. "I'll just hope to get my share."
At least the two touchdowns are an improvement. He didn't catch any last season, nor did the other starting receiver, Ike Hilliard (now in Tampa Bay).
Manning's 133 completions have been spread around to 10 receivers.
For his part, Burress is a lot happier with the Giants than he was in Pittsburgh, presumably because Hines Ward got the bulk of the chances there.
"I know I have a quarterback now," he said, somewhat mysteriously, "so I try to make plays and make him look good."
--To a man, the Giants refuse to talk about their NFC East showdown with Philadelphia in two weeks.
"We have had some success so far," left guard David Diehl said, "by focusing on what is in front of us and not getting caught up in any of the other games on our schedule. That way, every game is like a playoff game. We try to think that each game is the last one of the season."
BY THE NUMBERS: 71 - Points the Giants must score in their final eight games (just 8.9 per game) to surpass last season's point total of 303. They've scored 233 and lead the NFL in scoring per game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "For the 987th time, I see a young quarterback who progresses every game, who studies hard, works hard, learns from every experience, comes back to the sideline and knows exactly what he is seeing. Not everything goes the way you want it to go." - Giants coach Tom Coughlin, a bit peevishly, answering yet another question about the progress of young Eli Manning.
The Giants defense is playing well despite obvious shortages in the depth chart, none more pronounced than along the front line. With rookie DEs Justin Tuck and Eric Moore injured, there are six defensive linemen, with the only backups being Kenderick Allen, Fred Robbins and Damane Duckett. It seems almost imperative that none of the four starters misses any time at all.
Additionally, the return of SLB Carlos Emmons will be crucial as the season continues. His 10 years of experience will be invaluable in the development of young Reggie Torbor, who is currently in the position of having to start despite his inconsistent play.
--TE Jeremy Shockey, with 32 catches, 530 yards and five touchdowns, is still insisting he can do more for the team and should be thrown to more frequently. But he seems embarrassed when told his blocking has improved so much that he has become necessary many times against a strong pass rush.
--RCB Curtis Deloatch has earned praise from the coaches and opponents alike, and he simply smiles when asked how it will feel not to have to go against Terrell Owens (currently on suspension) when the Giants host the Eagles on Nov. 19. "We don't talk about the other team," he said, "until we have to play them. Right now I'm concerned with (Minnesota's) Nate Burleson, Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson."
--RB Tiki Barber needs just 240 yards to reach 1,000 for the fourth consecutive season. "I don't keep statistics in my head," he says, "but I'm feeling good this year and running seems easier." With 759 yards in the final eight games, he would break his own personal best in a season, earned last year with 1,518.
--LT Bob Whitfield, the 13-year veteran serving as a backup this year to Luke Petitgout, shrugs at the thought of the team getting nervous if it should continue to win. "Isn't that what we're here for?" he asked. "If you just think about the next game on the schedule, you don't have a chance to start playing those games."
--K Jay Feely has made 17 of 18 field-goal attempts and all 26 PAT tries, giving him 77 points. That's second among NFL kickers, nine points behind the leader, Arizona's Neil Rackers. "I'm in a groove right now," Feely said. "I just feel I can make every kick. Remember, it's the process, not the product."
GAME PLAN: The Giants have basically gone into each game of the season with the same defensive plan - to stop the other team's running attack. "We have done that the last two weeks now, and it made us able to put more pressure on the passer," coach Tom Coughlin said. "That's been our plan, and I don't think it's going to change."
For the Vikings, the running game is slightly better than zero. They are 23rd in the NFL in rushing, and the Giants are ninth in stopping the run. One might assume that Michael Bennett, who had his first 100-yard game of the season last week, will not pose an intimidating threat.
The offensive plan will be to run the ball until it works so well that the secondary must come up in support, and then throw behind the defenders. It's simple on paper, not so simple to accomplish, but it is their plan, and it has worked more often than not this season.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Giants LDE Michael Strahan vs. Vikings RT Mike Rosenthal, a former Giants practice opponent. "Rosie" left the team as a free agent two years ago and has started for the Vikings ever since. But he has always had problems with Strahan, both in practice and in the two most recent games between the teams.
--Giants WR Plaxico Burress vs. Vikings RCB Brian Williams, who will start in place of veteran Fred Smoot (broken collar bone). Burress has 45 catches for 656 yards and five touchdowns, and at 6-foot-5, 226 pounds, he is significantly bigger than Williams (5-11, 190).
--The Giants defense vs. Vikings backup QB Brad Johnson, who has taken over for the injured Daunte Culpepper. Johnson has played a more conservative offense and has tons of experience, but he hasn't had to throw into a shifting zone-to-man coverage yet. If the Giants take away his running game, he'll have to beat them in the air.
The Giants will be without RCB Will Peterson, probably without SLB Carlos Emmons and maybe without DE Justin Tuck.