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Philadelphia knocks out the Giants

DONOVAN McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles eliminated the Super Bowl champion New York Giants 23-11 on Sunday to reach the National Football Conference title game for the fifth time in eight seasons.

In the American Football Conference, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the San Diego Chargers 35-24 and have home-field advantage in the title game.

McNabb lunged for one touchdown, threw for another and converted several key third downs to move the sixth-seeded Eagles (11-6-1) into Sunday's title game at Arizona (11-7). Philadelphia beat the Cardinals 48-20 on Thanksgiving.

"It feels like it was years ago," McNabb said.

A year after road success fueled the Giants' route, the Eagles are taking the same path. They opened the postseason by winning at Minnesota and, after their sixth victory in seven tries, look nothing like a team that needed several breaks on the final day simply to make the playoffs.

David Akers added three field goals ?? extending his NFL record to 18 straight in the postseason ?? to fend off the top-seeded Giants (12-5).

Eli Manning never looked like the quarterback who won last year's Super Bowl with that one perfect spiral to Plaxico Burress. MVP of that huge upset over New England, Manning was in trouble from the start. His first pass wobbled out of his hand, got caught in the wind and missed a wide-open receiver.

Manning ended up 15-for-29 with two interceptions, often overthrowing his targets as the Giants lost for the fourth time in five games.

"It all comes down to what you do in the playoffs. That makes your season a good one or a disappointment," Manning said. "This is a disappointment.

"We felt this was a special team that could go far. The defense played outstanding today and gave us opportunities. Offensively, we didn't do our job. We didn't score enough points."

Later in the day, Pittsburgh shook off a 7-0 deficit barely two minutes into the game, shut down San Diego's pint-sized play maker Darren Sproles and returned some normalcy to the NFL postseason by beating the Chargers.

With a now-healthy Willie Parker running for 146 yards and two touchdowns, Ben Roethlisberger shaking off his late-season concussion to throw for a score and lead an efficient offense, the Steelers did what the favored Titans, Panthers and Giants couldn't do by winning at home. It was the first time since 1971 that three road teams won during a single playoff weekend.

The Steelers had the worst offense of any playoff team coming in, only to put up 35 points to support the NFL's top-ranked defense. Now, it's time for the Ravens versus Steelers Part III on Sunday ?? the third and most intriguing matchup this season between the can't-stand-each other AFC North rivals.

Pittsburgh won the earlier two games ?? one in overtime at home and the other in Baltimore to clinch the division.


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