for this game

Owens flops in return to Philadelphia

Oct 9, 2006 - 12:05 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Donovan McNabb shined. Terrell Owens whined.

McNabb passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 38-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a battle of NFC East rivals.

In his return to Philadelphia, Owens didn't have nearly the same kind of impact for the Cowboys. The controversial wide receiver caught just three passes for 45 yards and often threw his hands up in disgust and vented his frustration to teammates and coaches on the sidelines.

Owens appeared frustrated with the Cowboys' offensive line and quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who was sacked seven times.

"I'm not going to point fingers," Owens said. "You watched the game. Make your own judgement. If you know how to break down film, you'll see I was open and the opportunity was there to make plays."

Owens is known for criticizing his quarterbacks. He did it to McNabb in his two years with the Eagles and before that bashed quarterback Jeff Garcia in San Francisco.

But McNabb gave a Pro Bowl performance on Sunday. He hit rookie Hank Baskett with an 87-yard touchdown down the left sideline with 7:28 left in the third quarter, giving the Eagles a 24-21 lead.

Then after Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 39-yard field goal to tie the game with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter, McNabb connected with Reggie Brown on a 40-yard scoring play off a flea flicker with 9:13 remaining.

"I've always said this is a team game and we have guys who can make plays," McNabb said. "It's not T.O. versus Donovan. It's the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. The pleasure I get out of it is the fact that we get a chance to stay in our position at the top (of the NFC East)."

Baskett, who was acquired in a trade after he was signed by Minnesota as a rookie free agent, and Brown were more productive than Owens. Baskett finished with three catches for 112 yards and Brown had four for 79.

"It feels awesome, man," Baskett said. "The biggest thing is the win. That's all that matters. If you have 100 yards or if you have two catches, as long as the team wins, that's all it comes down to right there."

Philadelphia's defense forced five turnovers. The biggest one came when cornerback Lito Sheppard picked off a pass by Bledsoe in his own end zone and raced 102 yards for a touchdown with 16 seconds left, sealing the win for Philadelphia (4-1), which remains in sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

It was the second interception of the quarter for Sheppard, who missed the previous three games with an ankle injury.

"Five takeaways for the defense, two by Lito Sheppard. Welcome back, Lito," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "It was great to get him back out there. He obviously played aggressive and he really did a nice job."

Sheppard's first interception came on a badly underthrown pass to Owens at the Philadelphia 7 with 7:23 left. A frustrated Owens angrily snapped off his chin strap before walking to the sideline.

"You guys saw the game, that was an opportunity, it was a missed opportunity," Owens said about Bledsoe's underthrown pass.

The Cowboys (2-2) had another chance to tie the game after a pass interference penalty against Eagles safety Michael Lewis allowed them to convert a 4th-and-18 from their own 37. Lewis made contact with Terry Glenn before the receiver could haul in a long pass from Bledsoe.

That moved the Cowboys to the Philadelphia 6 with 38 seconds left. Bledsoe attempted to hit Owens on the next play, but fired a pass off the goalpost since Owens was blanketed by Lewis.

On the next play, Bledsoe tried to complete a pass to tight end Jason Witten in the end zone, but Sheppard diagnosed the play, picked off the pass and recorded the second-longest interception return for a touchdown in Eagles history.

"They didn't have any timeouts so we were guarding the goal line," Sheppard said. "He (Bledsoe) was able to throw one up with a guy in his face and I saw it. It was to my side so I was able to make a play on it."

Owens was booed throughout by the sellout crowd. After nearly helping the Eagles win a Super Bowl title in 2004, Owens nearly ruined the team with his petulant behavior last season.

The city of Philadelphia experienced a true love-hate relationship with Owens. It was all love in 2004 when Owens was a hero for the Eagles, returning from a broken leg to catch nine passes for 122 yards in Super Bowl XXXIX. But it all turned to venom when Owens clearly disrupted the team with his constant criticisms of McNabb and management and was suspended and banished for detrimental conduct.

That didn't stop the Cowboys from signing Owens to a three-year, $25 million contract in the offseason.

Owens' saga took a bizarre twist on September 26 when he was rushed to the hospital for what was classified as an "accidental overdose" of prescription pain pills. At first it was reported as a suicide attempt, which Owens unequivocally denied.

The prescription pills were administered to Owens after he underwent surgery for a broken right ring finger on September 18.

Despite all the hype for this game, Owens was not much of a factor. He didn't catch a pass until the first minute of the third quarter - a nine-yard reception. Owens also caught a 12-yard pass with 13:50 left in the fourth quarter and a 24-yard pass down the right sideline with 8:33 remaining.

"T.O. is not the only great receiver we've faced," Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "We face great receivers every week. I have to give credit to the guys up front though. They were getting after the quarterback."

Philadelphia's defensive line harassed Bledsoe, who completed 18-of-38 passes for 223 yards, throughout the day. Darwin Walker had three of the sacks and Darren Howard collected two.

"We had a game plan that didn't incorporate a lot of blitzes from the secondary and the linebackers," Walker said. "It was a lot of stunting and things like that. That's what we used today."

Owens ran to the locker room as soon as the game ended, passing on the chance to meet with some former teammates.

"I was frustrated," Owens said. "I'm a competitor. I do not like to lose."

The Eagles jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first 5:01 with the help of two turnovers. The first came when punter Mat McBriar fumbled a snap and Shawn Barber recovered at the Dallas 12. Two plays later, Brian Westbrook scored on a five-yard run with 11:37 left.

On Dallas' ensuing possession, Bledsoe fumbled after being sacked by Walker and Trent Cole recovered at the Dallas 14. But the Eagles had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by David Akers with 9:59 left.

Marion Barber scored on a two-yard run with 4:11 left in the first quarter to pull the Cowboys within 10-7.

Dallas then took the lead when Greg Ellis jarred the ball loose from McNabb and DeMarcus Ware returned the fumble 69 yards for a touchdown with 10:30 left in the second quarter.

On Philadelphia's ensuing possession, McNabb connected with tight end L.J. Smith on a 60-yard pass. A facemask penalty on safety Pat Watkins moved the ball to the Dallas 1. Three plays later, McNabb scored on a one-yard run with 9:13 left in the second quarter, giving the Eagles a 17-14 lead.

Bledsoe, who is not known for his running ability, scored on a seven-yard run to give Dallas a 21-17 advantage with 3:23 left in the half.

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