Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Eagles are only Undefeated Team in NFL

By the Associated Press, from ESPN.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles aren't used to being leaders.

The Eagles usually struggle early in the season, then spend the rest of the year recovering in the standings and jockeying for playoff position.

This year, the rest of the league is trying to catch up to Philadelphia.

At 7-0, the Eagles are off to the best start in franchise history and lead Atlanta (6-2) by 1½ games in the NFC. With New England losing to Pittsburgh, the Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL.

No matter, they won't get caught up in the hype. After three straight losses in the NFC championship game, the Eagles won't be celebrating much until they finally get to the Super Bowl.

"You don't enjoy it and you don't put pressure on yourself," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday about the 7-0 start. "You go out and you play and you take it like it's a normal week. You don't worry about records or anything else. You just concentrate on the game. You don't have time for all that other stuff."

Last season, the Eagles started with two losses at home in their new stadium. They were 2-3 after five games, but finished 10-1 and clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs when St. Louis lost on the last day of the regular season.

In 2002, the Eagles opened with a loss and were 3-2 after five games. They went 9-2 the rest of the way, needing help to secure the No. 1 seed as Green Bay lost to the Jets on the final day of the regular season.

In 2001, they also lost the opener and were 3-3 after six games. They finished 8-2, but didn't earn a first-round bye.

"It's not really jubilation and excitement about 7-0," safety Brian Dawkins said. "We are happy, but we understand that we still have some tough games to play."

After five double-digit victories to start the season, the Eagles had a tougher time the last two weeks. They needed overtime to win in Cleveland and held off a late rally by Baltimore to win 15-10 Sunday.

"It's going to build character for us and obviously it's going to give us something to build on toward the end of the season," wide receiver Terrell Owens said. "Every win is not going to be a blowout. There are going to be some close games."

Owens and quarterback Donovan McNabb are the main reasons for Philadelphia's perfect start. The two have connected for nine touchdowns, including one that sealed the victory against the Ravens.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, McNabb is having his best season. He has thrown for 1,972 yards, 14 TDs and three interceptions, and also run for two scores. Owens, an MVP contender in his first season with the Eagles, has 42 catches for 697 yards and nine TDs. He has over 100 yards receiving in the last five games, a career best and a team record.

Next up for the Eagles are the Steelers, who improved to 6-1 with a 34-20 victory that ended New England's NFL-record 21-game winning streak.

"I always thought they were a tough team," Reid said. "I think they have a lot of talent. It will be a lot of fun."