Sheldon Brown has a message for Eagles fans that think they are going see the same Arizona Cardinals team that showed up at Lincoln Financial Field on Thanksgiving night.
Forget about that game. Act like it never happened.
Brian Westbrook didn't score four touchdowns, Donovan McNabb didn't compile an impressive 121.7 quarterback rating and the Eagles didn't pick off Kurt Warner three times.
Whatever happened on Thanksgiving has no bearing on what happens Sunday.
"It will have no effect on this game," Brown said. "Two different game plans, different situations, scenarios. That game will have no outcome on where we go in this game."
|Hanson's interception helped give the Eagles a big lead early on Thanksgiving|
The Thanksgiving game was essentially over after the Eagles' fourth possession.
Philadelphia took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards in 12 plays, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to Westbrook for a 7-0 lead.
On its' first possession, Arizona began to mount a drive before quarterback Kurt Warner was intercepted by cornerback Joselio Hanson to set up another Eagles' score.
Westbrook ran the ball four straight times, the last of which was a 1-yard touchdown plunge, to give Philadelphia a 14-0 advantage.
On the ensuing drive, Warner was picked off again, this time by safety Quintin Mikell. After trading punts, The Eagles reached the end zone again when McNabb found Westbrook for a 2-yard touchdown pass to cap a 10-play, 60-yard drive and give the Eagles a 21-0 lead.
On one hand, it would be easy for the Eagles to think they can just march into University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday and do the same thing to the Cardinals.
Then again, Westbrook has seen a big difference between the Cardinals defense on Thanksgiving and the one he has witnessed in the playoffs.
"They are a very, very active defense," Westbrook said. "I think their front seven is very active. They are a little bit smaller than some of the defenses that we have played against, but they are very active. They do a lot of stunts. Their secondary is probably one of the better secondaries in the (National) Football League with (strong safety) Adrian Wilson playing safety and (cornerback Dominique Rodgers-) Cromartie and (cornerback) Rod Hood out there in corners. They have done a great job of making plays on the ball and getting interceptions and things like that. So, for us, we have to be very efficient and effective on offense and continue to keep things moving."
Brown has noticed a fundamental change in the Cardinals' offensive philosophy between the first meeting and now. Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former pupil of Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh, has dusted off running back Edgerrin James for its postseason run, and he has been effective. After gaining just 514 rushing yards during the regular season, James is second in the NFL with 130 yards in the postseason on 36 carries.
"Obviously they run the ball very well, they're playing with a lot of confidence, the defense is doing a great job and (Cardinals wide receiver) Larry (Fitzgerald) is playing out of his mind," Brown said.
Head coach Andy Reid said all anybody has to do is watch film of the Cardinals first two playoff games in order to realize the Eagles aren't going to play the same team they faced in late November.
"You put on those last two games, you see a team that's dominating," Reid said. "Unless you can't see, then you're going to be very aware of how well they're playing right now. That whole thing with the last time we played them, you're asking a team coming off a huge game against the Giants, travel on Thanksgiving weekend, playing on a Thursday, traveling out Wednesday and put a holiday on top of that, it's a rough thing to do."