Westbrook, Garcia keep streaking Eagles' train rolling

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Some of his teammates couldn't watch David

Akers when he lined up for the winning kick, preferring to let the

crowd's reaction tell them the outcome.

Given recent events around the NFL, nobody could blame them.

Average Joes

New York Giants

The New York Giants are the ninth team to make the playoffs without having a winning record in the regular season and the seventh to come up short in the first playoff game.



Wild Card Result


Giants (8-8)

Lost to Eagles,


Rams (8-8)

Beat Seahawks,


Vikings (8-8)

Beat Packers,


Cowboys (8-8)

Lost to Vikings,


Lions (8-8)

Lost to Redskins,


Jets (8-8)

Lost to Oilers,


Saints (8-8)

Lost to Bears,


Browns (8-8)

Lost to Dolphins,


Oilers (6-6-2)

Lost to Raiders,

* -- Lost following week in Div. Playoffs

** -- AFL Divisional Playoffs

The fans' roar gave them the news -- snap, hold and kick were

perfect this time.

Akers hit a 38-yard field goal with no time remaining to give

the Philadelphia Eagles a 23-20 victory over the New York Giants in

a wild-card playoff game Sunday.

A day after Dallas lost to Seattle when quarterback Tony Romo

fumbled the hold on what could have been a go-ahead field goal,

snapper Jon Dorenbos and holder Koy Detmer executed the seemingly

routine play that has cost teams important games in recent weeks.

Akers got some encouragement from punter and former holder Dirk

Johnson before he went out to attempt the kick on a sloppy field in

a steady rain.

"Dirk said, 'Those posts look big, don't they?'" Akers said.

"I said, 'Don't worry. We're going to be celebrating in a


Brian Westbrook, playing through stomach cramps that often sent

him to the sidelines, had 141 yards rushing, including a

spectacular, slashing 49-yard TD run in the second quarter. His

65-yard punt return for an apparent score in the third quarter was

nullified by a penalty on rookie Torrance Daniels.

SportsNation: Eagles or Saints?

Philadelphia Eagles

New Orleans Saints

The Philadelphia Eagles are off to New Orleans for the NFC Divisional Playoffs after defeating the Giants 23-20 on Sunday. Are the Eagles better off with Jeff Garcia? Which coach will be more prepared? Which running back is the best?

• Tell SportsNation what you think.

Jeff Garcia threw for 153 yards, one touchdown and played

efficiently enough to win for the sixth time in seven starts since

replacing an injured Donovan McNabb.

Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress,

including an 11-yard strike that tied it at 20 with 5:04 left.

In his last game, Tiki Barber ran for 137 yards for the Giants.

A three-time Pro Bowl running back, Barber plans to retire after 10

seasons in the NFL.

"This was one of the hardest places I've ever played in,"

Barber said. "It was fitting to come down here and play my last


Elias Says

David Akers
David Akers kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to give the Eagles a 23-20 victory over the Giants. It was only the third fourth-quarter walkoff field goal in NFL postseason history. The others were by Matt Bahr of the Giants (42 yards against the 49ers in an NFC title game in January 1991) and Adam Vinatieri of the Patriots (48 yards against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI).

• Read more Elias Says.

The Eagles are far from finished, though.

Counted out after a knee injury ended McNabb's season in Week

11, the Eagles (11-6) have won six straight games. They'll play at

New Orleans (10-6) next Saturday night.

The Giants overcame a second-and-30 on their tying scoring drive

as Manning completed consecutive passes of 18, 14 and 11 yards to


But the Eagles drove right down the field, mixing in short

passes and Westbrook runs.

That set up Akers' winning kick, a moment with a little extra

drama in the wake of the botched hold in the Dallas-Seattle game

and a bad snap on a critical extra point in a late-season game

between Cincinnati and Denver.

"Kicking balls are very, very slick," Akers said. "That might

be something that needs to be addressed. A lot of people take the

snap, hold and kick for granted. It just shows you how technical

that is."

Detmer, the longtime backup quarterback signed this week

specifically to be the holder, had no trouble putting the snap down

for Akers. Dorenbos replaced injured long-snapper Mike Bartrum last


"Being a holder for the amount of time I've been, you realize

there's nothing given," Detmer said. "None of them are

guaranteed. You have to make it happen."

Led by Garcia and a rejuvenated defense, Philadelphia turned its

season around after a 24-point loss in Indianapolis, captured its

fifth division title in six years and earned the No. 3 seed in the


Meanwhile, the dysfunctional Giants (8-9) fell apart after a 6-2

start. They lost four in a row and six of seven before a win at

Washington last week put them in the playoffs.

While the Eagles moved within one victory of their fifth trip to

the NFC championship game in six years, the Giants face an

uncertain offseason. Besides Barber, coach Tom Coughlin might not

be back, and the embattled Manning probably will hear more

criticism after failing to win a playoff game for the second

straight year. The Giants lost at home to Carolina last season.

Manning was 16-of-27 for 161 yards, two TDs and one

interception. Garcia was 17-of-31.

"I'm not concerned," Coughlin said about his future.

The Eagles went ahead 17-10 late in the second quarter on

Garcia's 28-yard TD pass to Donte' Stallworth. Garcia completed

6-of-7 passes on the drive, capping it with a perfect strike to

Stallworth, who beat cornerback R.W. McQuarters.

Akers kicked a 48-yard field goal -- the longest in the playoffs

in team history -- to give Philadelphia a 20-10 lead with 2:37 left

in the third quarter.

Jay Feely's 24-yarder cut it to 20-13 early in the fourth.

After going three-and-out on their first three drives, the

Eagles finally got it going on their fourth possession. Garcia

scrambled seven yards up the middle on third-and-6 for a first

down. Two plays later, Westbrook electrified the frenzied crowd at

Lincoln Financial Field with a run for the highlight reels.

Westbrook burst through the line, bounced outside, kept his

balance after getting tripped, cut back inside at the 20, reversed

direction at the 15 and sprinted toward the end zone pylon to tie

it at 7.

On the ensuing possession, Sheldon Brown intercepted Manning's

pass for Burress and the offense started at the Giants 37. The

Eagles had a first down at the 4, but settled for Akers' 19-yard

field that made it 10-7.

Barber's 41-yard run to the Eagles 3 put New York in position to

go ahead. But Philadelphia's defense tightened and Feely kicked a

20-yard field goal to make it 10-10.

New York's offense was crisp at the start. Manning capped a

67-yard drive with a 17-yard TD pass to a wide-open Burress across

the middle. Burress also had a 29-yard catch on the first play from


Game notes
Eagles Pro-Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard dislocated his

right elbow in the fourth quarter. His status is uncertain for next

week. ... The Eagles snapped a five-game losing streak to division

opponents in the playoffs. ... Barber had 126 yards rushing

combined in the two regular-season meetings. ... Giants backup QB

Jared Lorenzen, who is listed at 285 pounds, converted a

third-and-1 with a sneak on the opening drive.