PHILADELPHIA – Playing for a city full of nervous fans and desperate housewives, facing fourth down for the Super Bowl and Michael Vick next week, you might think the mood around the team following Philadelphia's 27-14 dismantling of Minnesota here on Sunday would be of caution and concern.
History can be hell, you know, especially when talk radio keeps repeating it.
"We're confident, we're loose," said Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. "We don't have any reason not to be loose."
Actually the Eagles have three reasons – their consecutive losses in the NFC championship game that have broken hearts in this tough, title-starved city.
But in an approach stolen from the Boston Red Sox, the Eagle players are laughing and whistling past the graveyard of doomed seasons past. If Philly is going to fail for a fourth time Sunday against Atlanta, it won't be because of nerves.
"The last three years have left a bad taste in our mouths," linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "We are better than those three teams."
Judging by what Philly did to Minnesota here on a clear but cold day, you can understand their confidence. The Eagles scored on three of their first four possessions, took Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper out of the game, left a bunch of points on the field and still won easily.
Defensively Philadelphia was sensational, forcing Culpepper to throw 22 incompletions, including two interceptions. Moss, who talked big all week, came out so small he didn't have a chance to unleash any new finable antics.
Meanwhile the Eagle offense that was supposed to be rusty from weeks of downtime, and not that good anyway in Owens' absence, marched up and down the field. Especially pleasing to the 67,722 fans here was the play of the receiving corps led by the once-forgotten Freddie Mitchell, who scored twice.
"I just want to thank my hands for being so great," Mitchell deadpanned after the game while wearing an eccentric hat.
That was enough to get Westbrook and nearly everyone else laughing.
"I'm a special player," reasoned Mitchell, who caught five balls Sunday after getting just 22 all season, before breaking into a smile.
That's the mood around here. While all of Philadelphia is fretting over potential calamities that again could deny them a trip to the Super Bowl, the Eagles figure they've seen every bad thing that could come their way and, at this point, may as well just go with it.
So they are cracking jokes and busting chops. They aren't afraid to predict victory. They don't even sound that scared of the Vick.
Laughs aside, really, what is there to worry about? They've lost the big game before and life has gone on.
Donovan McNabb said there couldn't possibly be any more pressure on him, so he is just ignoring it. He was a brilliant 21-of-33 for 286 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings and figures that should carry over against the Falcons, no matter how good their defense is.
"We play the way we expect to and win, what do you guys talk about then?" he asked the media. "I guess you talk about the Atlanta Falcons."
Indeed, there figures to be plenty of talk about the Falcons this week. And a good portion of the focus on the Eagles will be about who isn't playing (Owens), not who is.
And those three title-game losses will get mentioned about three thousand times.
Which is fine with the Eagles. They've seen it all. They've heard it all. They don't care.
Fourth down for the Super Bowl and McNabb just smiles.
"I'm ready to play right now."