East Rutherford, N.J. Donovan McNabb will get another chance to chase that elusive Super Bowl title. Eli Manning threw away his opportunity to defend it.
McNabb made all the big plays that Manning did not, and the Eagles eliminated the New York Giants, 23-11, Sunday to reach the NFC title game for the fifth time in eight seasons.
“He is the best quarterback in the NFL,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said of McNabb. “I don’t think I have to say anything more than that.”
Manning, meanwhile, never resembled the poised quarterback who won last year’s Super Bowl MVP award with that one perfect spiral to Plaxico Burress.
Five times New York got inside the Eagles 20. The result? A mere three field goals.
“When we needed to get something done, get a spark to make a big play, that’s when we didn’t do our best,” Manning said.
Credit Philadelphia’s hard-hitting, ball-hawking defense, and maybe blame the wind gusts a bit. Either way, these NFL playoffs are now for the Birds — the underdog Eagles, Cardinals and Ravens all won on the road this weekend.
McNabb lunged for one touchdown, threw for another and converted several key third downs to move the sixth-seeded Eagles (11-6-1) into next Sunday’s title game at Arizona (11-7). Philadelphia beat the Cardinals, 48-20, on Thanksgiving night.
McNabb also drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the game when he was pushed out of bounds on the Giants sideline, picked up a phone there and had a brief, fake conversation.
David Akers added three field goals — extending his NFL record to 18 straight in the postseason — to fend off the top-seeded Giants (12-5).
“I am very, very disappointed,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “I am sorry to see the season come to an end. There is remorse for opportunities lost.”