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Benching McNabb, early loss fired up Ravens

PHILADELPHIA coach Andy Reid said on Wednesday that a mid-season defeat and his benching of quarterback Donovan McNabb helped the Eagles soar into Sunday's playoff clash against the New York Giants.

The Eagles (10-6-1) bounced back from the 7-36 drubbing by the Baltimore Ravens to win five of their next six, including last week's 26-14 playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings to reach the divisional round against Super Bowl champion Giants.

"I think it had a positive effect on everybody, coaches and players," Reid said about the Ravens game.

"I think everybody stepped their game up an inch and I put myself in that hopper. I was stinking it up. Everybody picked their game up and did a little bit better."

McNabb, a five-time Pro Bowler in his 10 seasons as Eagles quarterback, was benched in favor of second-year player Kevin Kolb after a poor first half against the Ravens, one week after a disappointing 13-13 tie against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.

After the game, Reid told him he was still his starting quarterback and McNabb bounced back to lead the Eagles to a 48-20 win over playoff-bound Arizona and a 20-14 victory on the road against the Giants in the next two games.

The Eagles clinched their playoff berth with a 44-6 demolition of the Dallas Cowboys to close the regular season.


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