Garcia throws a fit, key scoring pass to lift Eagles
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jeff Garcia's fiery temper could easily have cost the Eagles the season.
His subsequent play yesterday has Philadelphia somewhere no one expected — on the verge of a playoff berth and possibly the NFC East title.
Minutes after being whistled for a taunting penalty and then throwing an interception to set up New York's fourth-quarter score, Garcia threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Brown and a 2-point conversion, lifting the Eagles to a 36-22 win.
"I'm very disappointed in myself for those actions," said Garcia, who was 19 of 28 for 237 yards. "I let some other things get the best of me. Those things were out of character. I'm just glad I'm not up here apologizing for my actions costing us a chance to win."
Defensive end Trent Cole made sure the Eagles stayed in front just 10 seconds after Garcia's big throws by returning an interception 19 yards for a touchdown in the error-plagued game unworthy of two playoff contenders.
The win was the third straight for the Eagles (8-6) and left them in control of their playoff destiny. If they win at Dallas (9-5) next week and over Atlanta at home two weeks later, they take the division.
What has made their run so unusual is the Eagles have found a way to win after losing quarterback Donovan McNabb for the season with a knee injury. The 36-year-old Garcia is 3-1 since taking over.
The Giants (7-7) still have a shot at the playoffs despite losing for the fifth time in six games. They face New Orleans here next weekend and then close at Washington. However, they hold a tiebreaker with Atlanta (7-7) for the sixth and final playoff berth in the conference.
"You know any team that makes the playoffs deserves to be there," Giants halfback Tiki Barber said. "Right now we are not playing like a playoff-caliber team, especially with the mistakes we made, the turnovers and penalties."
Brian Westbrook scored on runs of 1 and 28 yards and Correll Buckhalter scored on a 2-yard run for Philadelphia.
Barber scored on an 11-yard run, Jay Feely kicked three field goals and Brandon Jacobs scored from the 1 with 6:59 left in the fourth quarter. New York led 22-21 after a 2-point conversion run by Barber was stopped.
Garcia, who committed one of the dumbest plays of his eight-year career to set up Jacobs' go-ahead run, then led the Eagles on a winning eight-play, 80-yard drive.
Westbrook, who rushed for 97 yards and caught five passes for 40, started the drive with a 9-yard run. Garcia hit tight end L.J. Smith for 27 yards to the Giants 36 three plays later. On the TD, Garcia pump-faked and found a wide-open Brown for a 27-22 lead. A 2-point pass to Smith was successful.
Then Sheldon Brown blitzed on New York's next play and hit Eli Manning as he was throwing. The ball popped in the air and Cole caught it and strutted into end zone.
Garcia seemed to be the goat by drawing a taunting penalty after a 10-yard run to the Giants 22 with 10:13 left and the Eagles ahead 21-16. Two plays later, Will Demps intercepted a deep pass at the 12, eventually leading to Jacobs' score.
"He's a competitive little son of a gun," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Garcia. "Slamming the ball at the guy's face, you can't do that. ... That can be trouble, but he bounced back and came back with a nice series."
REDSKINS 16, SAINTS 10
NEW ORLEANS — Jason Campbell threw for 204 yards and one touchdown as the Redskins (5-9) stunned the Saints (9-5), who made the playoffs when Carolina was eliminated from the division race by a loss to Pittsburgh.
Ladell Betts gained 119 yards on 22 carries for Washington.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was 21 of 38 for 208 yards and no touchdowns, and rookie star Reggie Bush was held to 14 yards rushing and 19 yards receiving.
BEARS 34, BUCS 31, OT
CHICAGO — The Bears (12-2) earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs when Robbie Gould's 25-yard field goal with 3:37 left beat the Buccaneers (3-11).
Chicago blew a 24-3 second-half lead, then recovered with big plays from backups Rashied Davis (an over-the-shoulder catch of a 28-yard pass in OT that put the ball on the Tampa 20) and Adrian Peterson (runs of 2 and 11 yards that helped move the ball to the 7 to set up Gould).
The Bucs stunned the Bears with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, tying the score on Tim Rattay's 44-yard TD pass to Ike Hilliard with 3:44 left.
PACKERS 17, LIONS 9
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's career completions record, but the Packers (6-8) had to overcome three interceptions by the three-time MVP to beat the Lions (2-12).
Favre connected on a 21-yard pass to Carlyle Holiday just before halftime for his league-record 4,968th completion. He finished 20 of 37 for 174 yards, and now has 4,974 completions, seven ahead of Marino.
Jon Kitna was 16 of 26 for 135 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions as Detroit had only 142 net yards.