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Philadelphia Eagles News

News » Birds prepare to take show on the road

Birds prepare to take show on the road

Birds prepare to take show on the road
Whether they get there by dogsled or snowmobile, Andy Reid is confident a significant number of Eagles fans will find their way to Minneapolis and the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for Sunday's NFC wild-card game.

"I know there are going to be a lot of Eagles fans there, and we welcome every one of them that we can have," Reid said yesterday.

Nonetheless, it's a road game, and the Eagles didn't distinguish themselves away from home this season. They were 3-4-1 and had truly dreadful performances at Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Washington.

That was especially the case for the offense, which managed only three touchdowns in the four games - three losses and a tie.

If those grim numbers should serve as a cautionary tale, the Eagles aren't saying. They're still floating on the high from Sunday's remarkable events that got them into the postseason against long odds, and they seem intent on resisting talk about anything negative.

"I mean, we'd certainly prefer to play at home, but we're a good road team," linebacker Stewart Bradley said.

"We did well on our West Coast trips. Granted, they weren't against teams with great records, but they're still tough trips. You cross through three different time zones."

"We're confident on the road," he said. "You look at how well we played up in New York, so I don't think it's a big factor."

The visiting Eagles beat the Giants, 20-14, on Dec. 7.

If the Eagles are to get to the Super Bowl, they will have to accomplish what only two teams have done - win three straight on the road.

The Giants did it last season and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. But those teams were successful away from home all season long. They combined to go 19-3 on the road, not including the Super Bowl.

Typically, the Eagles have done well on the road under Reid. So rather than reference this season's away games, the Eagles prefer to look further back in the Reid era. In 10 seasons under Reid, the Eagles are 47-32-1 when away - but 1-3 in the playoffs.

"One of the things about this team is we like playing on the road," receiver Jason Avant said. "If you're a Football player, you're a Football player no matter where you play. We've had some setbacks on the road this season, but you look at our history and we've played some of our better games on the road."

Some of the veterans are taking time to prepare younger players for their first playoff game, whether it's on the road or not.

Brian Westbrook said yesterday that he had spoken to rookie receiver DeSean Jackson, telling him to be ready for a more frenzied pace to the game.

Jackson "needs to know that the level of play and the level of competition is going to step up dramatically for this next playoff game and the one after that as well," Westbrook said. "He has to stay on task and stay focused throughout the week, and go into the game and give everything he's got."

Cornerback Sheldon Brown said the best way for a young player to avoid becoming overwhelmed by his first playoff experience was to prepare for it.

"Everybody says the speed of the game picks up, so you have to prepare during the course of the week so that when you get in that game, you don't become emotionally drained and make it a mental contest," Brown said. "You just want to play the game physically and understand everything that's going on.

"The bigger part is preparing for the game. I never thought the pace picked up. I just prepared more, and maybe the pace slowed down for me."

To get ready for the noisy Metrodome, the Eagles are practicing indoors this week with the volume from the speakers cranked up to deafening. Crowd noise can have more of an impact on the offense than the defense.

"I think for a defensive player, it's nice to be on the road because the communication is great," Bradley said. "You don't have to deal with the crowd noise you get at home.

"I mean, you love having that crowd noise on your side at home, but you can almost talk your play calls in on the road. But there are drawbacks to playing on the road. The thing is, we struggled at home at times, too."

Asked why the Eagles had more than their usual share of struggles on the road, Brown narrowed his eyes and in a biting tone said, "I guess the other teams executed better than us and made us struggle."

In other words, what's done is done. A new season begins Sunday.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 1, 2009

L.J. Smith Name: L.J. Smith
Position: TE
Age: 28
Experience: 6 years
College: Rutgers
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