A lot is on the line when Donovan McNabb and the Eagles take the field for the first time in the new Cowboys Stadium this afternoon. A win will secure the Eagles their first NFC East championship since 2006, as well a much-coveted first-round playoff bye. A Cowboys win would leave the Eagles as a wildcard team, and would likely lead to a return trip to Dallas next week.
"It's an exciting time and I think it comes at a great time for us because leading into the playoffs we want to make sure that we are clicking on all cylinders, and what a better stage than to play in Dallas against one of our top rivals and for a lot on the line," McNabb said. "We're all excited about this opportunity, and we're looking forward to this week of practice, to get out there and hopefully be able to bring a win home and secure a nice spot in our division."
But as big as this game is, it's not McNabb's first rodeo. McNabb, a veteran of five NFC Championship games, has an 11-7 record against the Cowboys in his career, with 26 touchdown passes against 13 interceptions.
"We've played in numerous big games," the quarterback said. "This is just a game that we have to approach just like we've approached all the other games, but there is a lot more on the line. We will attack that kind of method at practice of coming out and being able to be real methodical about different plays, different routes, what we will be faced with, and how to answer those questions. I think playing against the Cowboys, a team that we see twice a year, they have an understanding of what we like to do, we know what they like to do, and it's just two teams clashing to try to achieve that common goal."
Over his last seven games against the division rivals from Texas, McNabb and the Eagles have alternated between wins and losses, a pattern that, if continued, would call for an Eagles' victory. In last season's final game, with a playoff berth on the line, the Eagles demonstratively took care of business with a 44-6 win. In that game, McNabb was 12-21 for 175 yards, two touchdowns and 116.2 QB rating.
This season, McNabb acknowledged that, with so many contributing younger teammates, he's taken a bit more of a vocal role as a leader.
"With the team that we have I think it's important that we try to keep everybody even-keel, understanding that there are highs and lows in a season like this," McNabb said. "The thing that I try to express to these guys is don't get caught up in the hoopla of the new stadium and the intangibles in the stadium, the talk of how big this game is and how different this game is from any other game. Prepare like it was the game last week, watch the film, know who you're facing, know what you're going to be seeing as far as blitzes are concerned or coverages, knowing the guy that is going to be playing you and the way that we can attack them.
"And when the game comes, let's just go out and have fun."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:05 a.m., January 3