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Westbrook TD steals win

10/19/2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles found
another heartbreaking way to beat the New York Giants.

Question on the Eagles: Is it time for McNabb to sit for at least a week?
It may be time to sit him down for a week to let him heal and to give someone else a chance to win a game. I don't think it should be a permanent move, because McNabb is an excellent quarterback, but his injury seems to be affecting him adversely and costing the team.

Question on the Giants: Is this the week Fassel issues one of his guarantees?
After this game, it might be time for a proclamation from Fassel to get his troops started. This team is having serious problems with turnovers this season and it's handicapping this team severely.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Twenty-five years after stunning the Giants with "The Fumble,"
the Eagles now have "The Punt Return" to torment them.

Brian Westbrook scored on an 84-yard punt return with 1:16 to
play Sunday, leading the Eagles to a 14-10 victory over the
mistake-prone Giants.

"I had a feeling I was going to get a return," Westbrook said
after Philadelphia (3-3) took advantage of yet another special
teams meltdown by the Giants (2-4).

Until the return, the Giants' defense dominated the game between
the two struggling NFC East powers. It limited Donovan McNabb and
company to 134 total yards, with the Eagles getting one first down
and 23 yards in the second half.

With 1:34 to play, all the Giants needed was to have Jeff
Feagles get off a punt. Then Michael Strahan and the defense would
go out and protect a lead New York took on a 1-yard third-quarter
TD pass from Kerry Collins to Jeremy Shockey.

It all went awry.

The Eagles put everyone on the line of scrimmage except
Westbrook and special teams captain Ike Reese.

Feagles got off the punt without seriously being rushed, but he
didn't get much hang time on the somewhat short, wobbly kick.

The ball bounced inside the 20-yard line and Westbrook fielded
it as Reese put a questionable block on Giants gunner David Tyree.

"I feel like I got clipped," Tyree said.

Reese said it was close to a flag, but none was thrown.

Westbrook then broke through a wall of defenders quickly,
leaving only two to beat. He outran Feagles to the sideline in
front of the Giants' bench and tiptoed along the sideline to get
past a last-ditch tackle by Marcellus Rivers before scoring and
leaving the crowd of 78,000 in stunned silence.

The boos came seconds later.

"At first I thought, `Where's the flag?" Collins said. "Then
I thought, `No way! No way! Someone is going to get him."

Referee Tom White gave the crowd a glimmer of hope when he
announced the play was under review. It didn't take long for White
to decide that Westbrook did not step out of bounds.

"After I caught the ball, I saw a couple of guys blocking,"
Westbrook said. "After that it was basically a foot race to the
end zone."

The gaffe was the latest by the Giants' special teams. New York
was eliminated in the playoffs by San Francisco because of bad
snaps on field goals. It lost to Dallas on a botched squib kick
earlier this season and a loss to Miami two weeks ago might be
blamed on an injury to kicker Matt Bryant.

"It's unbelievable," Giants offensive tackle Chris Bober said.
"We just keep finding ways to lose football games. You might call
it bad luck, but we just aren't finishing football games."

The Giants have a history of doing that against the Eagles,
starting with the famous fumble by Joe Pisarcik in 1978 when the
Giants were running out the final seconds on the clock. Current
Jets coach Herman Edwards picked up the loose ball and scored to
give Philadelphia a 19-17 win.

Philadelphia also won a game in 1988 when defensive lineman
Clyde Simmons scored on a blocked field-goal attempt in overtime.
McNabb, who was 9-of-23 for 64 yards in this game, also stole a
Monday night game in 2001 with a last-second touchdown pass.

"The way we stole the one out of here today stings a little bit
more," Reese said.

The Giants had a final chance to pull the game out after Collins
hit Amani Toomer to get the ball to the Eagles 44-yard line with 72
seconds to play.

However, New York gained 6 yards on the next three plays and
Bobby Taylor broke up a fourth-down pass to Shockey, sending New
York to another excruciating loss.

This win puts the Eagles back in the division chase and leaves
the Giants desperate after a third straight close loss.

"Statistically we are not where we want to be," McNabb said.
"But when you go 3-3 and put yourself in position to continue this
thing and compete for the top, you can't worry about what the
statistics say."

Brett Conway had a 39-yard field goal for the Giants, who had
339 yards in total offense and controlled the ball for almost 36
minutes.<
^Notes:@The Giants lost LG Rich Seubert with a broken right leg in
the first quarter. ... Michael Strahan had two sacks, giving him
101.5 in his career. He is the 21st player to reach that milestone
since the league started keeping sacks as a statistic in 1982. ...
Westbrook has rushed for touchdowns in four straight games. He is
the first Eagles back to do that since Ricky Watters in 1996.