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Philadelphia Eagles beat Minnesota Vikings, take revival to New York

MINNEAPOLIS — Above the Metrodome's deafening noise, Donovan McNabb stayed poised.

Completing passes just when the Eagles needed him to, McNabb repeatedly sidestepped the Vikings rush and sent Philadelphia to a 26-14 playoff win Sunday after being all but forgotten as a postseason contender one month earlier.

Next up: the Super Bowl champion Giants.

Brian Westbrook caught a short pass out of the backfield and zigzagged for a 71-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Eagles spoiled Minnesota's first home playoff game in eight years.

"I've seen this team have confidence in each other and try to have one another's back," McNabb said. "What you're seeing is a team playing with a lot of energy, playing with emotion, and just having fun."

Asante Samuel's 44-yard interception return of Tarvaris Jackson's errant pass in the second quarter set a tone for the kind of game Vikings fans likely feared from the erratic quarterback.

Coach Andy Reid, 9-6 in the playoffs in his 10 years, beat his friend and former offensive coordinator Brad Childress. They spoke at length after the game while several hundred Eagles fans cheered around the tunnel entrance and began a derogatory chant toward the Giants.

"I think we're dangerous," Samuel said. "We've just got to see how it plays out."

Philadelphia plays Sunday at top-seeded New York. The Cardinals head to Saturday's NFC semifinal at the Panthers.

Jackson, who lost his job in September but got it back when Gus Frerotte was hurt, went 15-of-35 for 164 yards. Adrian Peterson's two touchdown runs weren't nearly enough for NFC North champion Minnesota.

"This game sticks with you," Childress said. "You hate to serve up seven points. You have to take that out of your repertoire."

Westbrook couldn't find room to run, finishing with 38 yards on 20 carries even with starters Ray Edwards and Pat Williams missing on Minnesota's defensive line. But McNabb, who went 23-of-34 for 300 yards, kept the offense from derailing.

He tossed a pass to Westbrook with the Eagles clinging to a two-point lead after a scoreless third quarter. Westbrook received a slew of well-timed blocks as he went downfield for the clinching touchdown.

"Any time that you get an opportunity to give the ball to a guy like Westbrook, give him an opportunity in space or against any other defenders, you feel confident about that matchup," McNabb said. "Time and time again, you give him an opportunity, he makes plays for you."

Eagles 26

Vikings 14

Philadelphia Eagles beat Minnesota Vikings, take revival to New York 01/04/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 8:10pm]
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