PHILADELPHIA – Yo, Philly. You're going to the Super Bowl.
Donovan McNabb (search) ignored the burden of three straight losses in the NFC championship game and the Eagles warmed a frozen city's heart, stuffing Michael Vick (search) and the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 on Sunday.
Philadelphia moves on to its first Super Bowl in 24 years — the only acceptable outcome for the Eagles and their rabid fans after so many close calls. They will meet either defending champion New England or cross-state Pittsburgh in Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 6.
The fourth time was the charm for the Eagles, even though they didn't have top receiver Terrell Owens (search) — reduced to the role of MVC (Most Valuable Cheerleader) on the sideline. Nothing was going to stand in the way of this team, which entered the season with a Super Bowl or Bust mentality and met those enormous expectations.
McNabb threw a pair of touchdown passes to Chad Lewis, including the clinching score with 3:21 remaining. That turned the final minutes into a delirious coronation, the 67,717 fans — most of whom never sat in their seats on a 17-degree day — saluting a team that finally fulfilled its destiny.
"Super Bowl! Super Bowl!" they chanted when play was halted for the two-minute warning.
The only warm-weather team left in the playoffs went cold in its biggest game of the year. Vick was sacked four times by the fearsome Philly defense, which also came up with a crucial interception that set up David Akers' second field goal.
The significance of the day was evident on the field — the Eagles pranced and danced after every big play — and in the stands, where hugs and beer flowed freely at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles are one victory away from bringing the city its first major sports championship since the 76ers won the NBA title in 1983. The football team hasn't won it all since 1960, which predates the Super Bowl by six seasons.
Philly's only previous Super Bowl appearance came in 1981, but the Eagles fell flat in a 27-10 loss to the Raiders. This time, that score worked in their favor.
McNabb completed 17-of-26 passes for 180 yards, a workmanlike performance that solidified his position as one of the game's best quarterbacks.
Vick is, too, but his first appearance on the Super Bowl stage will have to wait. He completed just 11-of-24 for 136 yards, while the Eagles stifling defense kept him from pulling off one of his signature runs.
He ran it just four times for 26 yards, but gave up even more yards on the sacks. Derrick Burgess dropped the elusive quarterback twice.
The Eagles were clearly relieved to make it to the Super Bowl, but they're not satisfied with merely winning a conference title.
"We've got one more game to play," McNabb told the crowd. "Enjoy it now and we'll bring something else home."
Philadelphia led only 14-10 at halftime, a bit to close for comfort for a team that had lost to St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Carolina in the last three NFC title games. Even more galling — the last two losses were at home.
But, as the sun gave way to a nearly full moon over "The Linc," the Eagles dominated the final two quarters. Akers connected from 31 and 34 yards, then McNabb and Lewis teamed up to finish off the Falcons with their 2-yard touchdown play.
Owens, who didn't play because of a severe ankle injury, played a prominent role nonetheless. He led the Eagles on the field and drew plenty of attention with his sideline antics, flapping his arms and waving a towel to urge on a crowd that didn't need any encouragement.
On the field, Owens' teammates filled in admirably. McNabb worked the ball around to eight players, led by Brian Westbrook with five catches for 39 yards.
Then, it was time for the party — Philly-style.
"For those about to rock, we salute you," AC-DC screamed over the sound system. Fireworks went off above the stadium. And tons of glitter fluttered over the field, recreating the blizzard that swept through the city a day earlier.