Eagles-Giants: Donovan McNabb, Eagles Knock Out Champs

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2009

Well, it's just like everyone predicted when we started out. The Eagles' defense made the now former Super Bowl MVP look human and Donovan McNabb did just enough to help Philadelphia (10-6-1) advance to their fifth NFC Championship game in eight seasons with a 23-11 victory over the New York Giants (12-5). 

The game could not have started out any better for the Giants as Ahmad Bradshaw took the opening kickoff 65 yards to the Eagles' 35. However, Eli Manning was unable to connect with a wide-open Steve Smith on the very next play. 

After a John Carney field goal, the Giants forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Eagles' possession, but that's where Manning's nightmare began.

Asante Samuel picked off his next pass and advanced it to the Giants' two where McNabb snuck in the rest of the way for a 7-3 lead.

But the Eagles' defense wasn't done there. More on that later. 

After both teams exchanged punts on the next three drives, the Giants forced a safety in the end zone to cut Philadelphia's lead to 7-5.

The game was all defense from this point on. The next four drives ended like this: a missed Carney field goal, a McNabb interception, a Carney field goal, and a David Akers field goal made the score 10-8 heading into halftime.

The real story of the game was, as the other divisional playoff games have shown, turnovers and missed opportunities.  Manning threw two (almost three) interceptions and New York just could not convert on third down.

One key play in the third quarter was a 21-yard completion by McNabb to Kevin Curtis on 3rd-and-21.  From that point, it seemed that the Giants' defense had been out-willed. And even though they did force an Akers field goal, the offense just could not generate touchdowns.

The Giants were 0-3 in the red zone, kicking just three field goals.  McNabb's one-yard touchdown to tight end Brent Celek at the beginning of the fourth quarter gave Philadelphia a 20-11 lead, nearly sealing Big Blue's fate.  

Philadelphia's defense also made two critical fourth down stops late in the game: first, stopping Manning on a quarterback sneak and then stopping Brandon Jacobs a yard short. 

Akers' 20-yard field goal following a 48-yard completion to DeSean Jackson gave the Eagles a comfortable 23-11 cushion and Manning's second interception to Quentin Mikell was the final dagger as the fans headed for the exits.

New York also failed to sack McNabb for the third straight game this season, after bringing him down 15 times in 2007. 

Manning finished a sub-par 12mfor25 for 150 yards and two interceptions.  McNabb went 22 of 41 for 217 yards, a passing touchdown, a rushing score, and two interceptions.

The Eagles now head to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona to face one of the most unlikely participants in NFC Championship game history. 

McNabb also faces the quarterback he first faced in the 2001 conference title game in Kurt Warner.