|ESPN.com: NFC East||[Print without images]|
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|Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens will meet again Monday night.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- It seems a little early in the season for an NFC East showdown, but that's exactly what we have with the Eagles and Cowboys on "Monday Night Football."
Despite their lack of success in the playoffs over the past 12 seasons, the Cowboys have been penciled in on many ballots as the eventual NFC representative in Tampa. The Eagles, a team that began this decade by winning five of seven division titles, appear back on track after a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2007.
The health of 31-year-old quarterback Donovan McNabb has been an issue for this franchise since it reached the Super Bowl in 2004. However, he appears to be in top form. McNabb is not the same quarterback who orchestrated one of the most iconic plays in MNF history in November 2004 (the 14-second scramble), but he thinks injuries forced him to become a more complete player.
The last time the Eagles visited Texas Stadium, the defense badgered Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into three interceptions and McNabb evoked good memories for Eagles fans with nine carries for 53 yards in leading the Eagles to a 10-6 victory.
The win was part of a four-game streak to end the season and it's the reason the Eagles feel confident heading into Monday's game.
"If anything, it let us know we could get the job done," starting weak-side linebacker Omar Gaither told me via phone Saturday. "But that game has no bearing on what will happen Monday. We have to go down there and handle our business again."
The Eagles watched a few clips from last December's game to remind them why they had so much success against one of the top offenses in the league. Gaither said he watched the entire game because it is part of his weekly routine. So, what was the Eagles' secret to slowing Romo?
"We were able to get pressure on him," Gaither said. "You have to bring the heat with him, and I think they got in the red zone three times and didn't come away with any touchdowns. That was big for us."
Rest assured that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson won't borrow the Cleveland Browns' defensive game plan from last Sunday, which allowed Romo to loiter in the pocket throughout much of a 28-10 victory.
The Giants and Eagles have shown what can happen when you throw Romo out of rhythm. Johnson will blitz him from all over the field, and the fact that Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett rarely calls for screens and extra blockers makes Romo vulnerable at times.
|AP Photo/Robert E. Klein|
|Andy Reid holds a 13-5 edge in this series since taking over as head coach in 1999.|