Rematch Is a Mismatch as Eagles Improve to 5-0

From Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t need their best offensive effort to beat injury-depleted Carolina in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game.

Terrell Owens had all of his 123 yards receiving in the first half and Lito Sheppard returned an interception 64 yards for a score, leading the undefeated Eagles to a 30-8 victory Sunday over the Panthers.

“Offensively, we didn’t play well,” Owens said. “We rode the backs of our defense.”

The Panthers’ 14-3 victory nine months ago denied Philadelphia its first trip to the Super Bowl since the 1980 season. But the Eagles, who have lost three consecutive conference championship games, have come back strong, starting 5-0 for the first time since 1981. They’ve won each game by double digits.


Carolina, which lost to New England in the Super Bowl, fell to 1-4. Only eight teams have overcome a 1-4 start to make the playoffs.

“We didn’t play well enough to beat a good team on the road,” Panther Coach John Fox said. “We must continue to improve.”

Donovan McNabb, off to the best start of his six-year career, didn’t have a touchdown pass for the first time this season. But he completed passes of 53 and 51 yards to Owens that led to 10 points. McNabb finished 14 for 26 for 209 yards with one interception.

“Defensively, we had a great game,” McNabb said. “It was a total team effort.”

Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme was a long way from the form he showed in January. He had four passes intercepted, and his two-yard touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad came late in the fourth quarter.

“Things aren’t happening right now,” Delhomme said. “It’s hard, it’s discouraging.”

Sheppard, who had two interceptions, put the game away in the third quarter with a nifty return after another poorly thrown pass by Delhomme. Sheppard eluded a couple of tackles along the left sideline, waited for a block from Corey Simon near the 15 and ran in to make it 23-0.

“I was able to make a couple guys miss, then I got some great blocks,” said Sheppard, who predicted earlier in the week he’d have two interceptions.


Brian Westbrook scored on a 42-yard run in the final minutes.