Donovan McNabb and Donte’ Stallworth didn’t take long to develop a connection. It remains to be seen if that chemistry will help the Philadelphia Eagles take the NFC East title away from the New York Giants.
With McNabb healthy and Stallworth quickly fitting into the offense, the Eagles look to remain the only undefeated team in the East when they host the defending division champion Giants on Sunday.
The Eagles’ 24-10 opening win at Houston last Sunday helped them move past a tumultuous 2005 season that saw wide receiver Terrell Owens suspended for the final nine games and McNabb miss seven contests due to injuries.
Owens was released in the offseason and signed with Dallas, leaving Philadelphia without a No. 1 receiver. The Eagles realized they needed help at the position late in training camp and acquired Stallworth from New Orleans on Aug. 28, just two weeks before the regular season started.
McNabb and Stallworth, however, showed no signs of unfamiliarity against the Texans, hooking up six times for 141 yards and a touchdown.
“We had an idea of the caliber of athlete he was,” McNabb said of Stallworth. “We just kind of visualized what he could do in this offense. This is just a start.”
McNabb completed 24 of 35 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns and an interception last week for a 113.3 rating, his highest since last Sept. 18 against San Francisco.
“For me, it was kind of a joy to get back out on the field and see guys kind of smiling, laughing, pushing each other, motivating each other,” McNabb said. “And for us to put points on the board, it’s exciting for us right now. It’s a different type of attitude this year.”
Stallworth caught eight passes for 141 yards against New York last Sept. 19 in the Saints’ “home” opener, which was moved to Giants Stadium because of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Superdome.
“They brought me here to do a job and it feels good to get a win,” Stallworth said. “I know I can get better every day, every week and make sure I’m really working with Donovan to make sure we’re in sync.”
Eli completed 20 of 34 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns, and is happy the hype surrounding the first game in NFL history to have brothers starting at quarterback is over.
“We just have to have a focus on every week now,” he said, “and it’ll be good now to just have games be games and no extra bonuses to it.”
Manning had two costly second-half mistakes—a fumble and an interception— with the Giants trailing by two points, and New York also dropped two potential first-half interceptions that could have stopped scoring drives for the Colts.
“The statement that I made to our team was this: ‘I really think we have to stop talking about being good and get good.’ Play good,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “All of these expectations and all of this talk, it’s all nice and it’s wonderful to hear. Boom. It doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t win.”
After running for 110 yards on 18 carries in the opener, Tiki Barber looks to surpass 100 yards rushing for the eighth time in his last nine regular-season games.
Giants defensive end Michael Strahan has 20 1/2 sacks against the Eagles, his most versus any opponent.
“All we can control,” Strahan said, “is how well we play.”
McNabb won all seven of his starts against the Giants from 2001-04, but missed both games last season, helping New York sweep the series for the first time since 2000.
The Giants won for the first time in three visits to Lincoln Financial Field last Dec. 11 when Jay Feeley kicked a 36-yard field goal with 1:43 left in overtime to give New York a 26-23 victory.
These teams don’t meet again until Dec. 17 at Giants Stadium.