Brian Dawkins could care less if the New York Giants are defending Super Bowl champions or if they finished last in the league a year ago.
To him, playing against the Giants is special.
There just something about playing Big Blue that gets Dawkins' juices flowing, even more so than playing against Dallas or Washington.
"For me, what they've won has nothing to do with it," Dawkins said. "I have always had that respect for them. When you step on that field, you know you have to be ready to play when we play this game. You really do ... For me, this has been my biggest rivalry since I've been with the Eagles. I know everybody can't really stand Dallas, and I understand that, but for me, since I've been here, this has been the game that I get up for every time. Big time."
Dawkins is going to have to keep his intensity in check a little longer than usual this week. The Eagles don't play the Giants until 8:15 PM Sunday night, which gives him extra time to morph into Weapon X.
"It's really tough," Dawkins said. "You try to have a little routine that you do; how you are going to go through the day. (You) try to not be ready to play the game too early and get yourself too hyped up. It's tough. It's really tough."
The Eagles are more than aware what a win over the defending World Champions would mean.
"The guys know," running back Brian Westbrook said. "The guys feel it that we are in a three-game winning streak now and we have to keep that going. I think the guys have been saying that as well, that this game is very important to getting to the point where we want to be at and accomplishing our goals. It's not another game for us, it's an opportunity for us to go out there and prove something again, just like every other game, but it has a little bit something extra to it."
Quarterback Donovan McNabb remembers the not-too-distant past when the Giants regularly beat up on the Eagles. He also remembered how sweet it was to snap that streak and let New York know that the division title went through Philadelphia.
"For the better part of 10 years, it's probably at the top of the list for me," McNabb said. "I remember, my first couple of year - my first two years actually — I believe we lost nine or ten or eleven in a row to them before we beat them on that Monday night. This rivalry is something that's been going back and forth. It's something that everyone knows about. As a player, you definitely understand it as well."
McNabb agreed with Dawkins that what is past is prologue.
"I think you have to forget about the past and focus on the present time," McNabb said. "I think it's a different team now. The attitudes are a lot different and I think what helps, in this situation, is the fact that we've won three in a row. Last year, it seemed like every time we won one game, we lost two. So, we couldn't get into a rhythm. In the previous years, it was the same way. When you get into a rhythm, your confidence level continues to grow and it feels like whatever play is called, that could be that big play.
"There's no team to overlook in any way. We know how important this game is and, obviously, when we play a team two times a year, we know the importance of winning both games. We know what situation we're in. We just have to be able to go out and secure the win and it starts from the very beginning of the game."
Head coach Andy Reid said that familiarity has bred contempt, especially when it comes to this rivalry.
"I think it's a neat thing, just by proximity alone," Reid said. "The players all know each other. They get together in the offseason and then you play them twice a year. I really don't think it's any different than your rivalry with their media. You take a lot of pride in doing what you're doing and they take a lot of pride in what they're doing. You know all of them and they know all of you. I don't think there is a big difference there. I think we are all very competitive in our own fields. I think it's a neat deal; it's a neat dynamic."
Dawkins said he expects a good ol' fashioned South Philly street fight come Sunday night.
"Usually those games are physical games," Dawkins said. "Usually they are nail-biters all the way to the fourth quarter. They know us; we know them, personnel-wise and scheme-wise. I love playing these games, I really do. It's a huge challenge. Throw out the records and all that good stuff. It's just playing against a team you respect, players you respect, a coaching staff and organization, front office, everybody, that you respect as a player. That just adds to the intensity of this rivalry."