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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

This year more than ever, McNabb is a guy that knows how to get things done

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Donovan McNabb sat in a dark room with his two dogs and watched film of the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to Carolina in last year’s NFC championship game.

“My dogs talked to me and told me to keep my head up, and I think I was all right,” McNabb joked.

As the Eagles (14-3) prepare for their fourth consecutive NFC title game against Atlanta (12-5) on Sunday, McNabb certainly doesn’t appear to be feeling the pressure of having lost the last three conference championships.

The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback cracked jokes, mimicked reporters and never stopped smiling in a 10-minute news conference Wednesday.

With snow already falling and a possible storm forecast for Philadelphia this weekend, a writer wanted to know how inclement weather affects a running quarterback.

“I wouldn’t know,” McNabb quickly shot back. “You like that one, huh?”

Though he’s one of the best scramblers in the league, McNabb has never considered himself a running quarterback. In fact, he’s always hated the label and prefers sitting in the pocket.

McNabb threw more and ran much less this season, finishing with a career-low 41 carries – 30 fewer than last season. Having All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens for the first 14 games made it easier for McNabb to stay in the pocket and have the best season of his six-year career.

McNabb set a team record with 3,875 yards passing, became the first NFL player to throw for more than 30 touchdowns (31) and less than 10 interceptions (eight), and his passer rating of 104.7 was second in the NFC.

Often criticized for being inaccurate, McNabb drastically improved his completion percentage to 64.0 percent – almost six points higher than his career average – and broke an NFL record by completing 24 consecutive passes over two games.

“I thought Donovan was a great player before, but I think the Miami game last year is kind of where he had it and everything clicked,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said, referring to McNabb’s performance in a victory at Miami on Dec. 15, 2003.

“He was seeing the whole field, he had complete control of the huddle and the defenses that were thrown at him. It has been uphill since then and he has done a great job with it.”

“He is playing with a chip on his shoulder that he wants to be the No. 1 quarterback in the league,” wideout Todd Pinkston said of McNabb. “By him going out and putting up the numbers that he does and getting everyone involved, it comes to a point where you notice it.”

“He brings a lot of confidence and leadership,” running back Brian Westbrook said. “We’re able to have fun with him out there. At the same time, he’s a professional. He’s a guy that can get things done at any time.”