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Playoff Notebook

Eagles' Mitchell Produces an Owens-Like Performance

By Mark Maske and Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 17, 2005; Page D10

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 16 -- Wide receiver Freddie Mitchell not only gave the Philadelphia Eagles some Terrell Owens-like production during Sunday's 27-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC semifinal, he also gave the Eagles some Owens-like flair.

After catching a first-quarter touchdown pass from Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Mitchell celebrated by pretending to pull up his pants and latch up a belt. It was a response to the touchdown celebration by Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss in Green Bay last weekend -- when Moss feigned pulling down his pants to moon the Lambeau Field crowd -- that created an uproar and drew a $10,000 fine from the league.

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"It just came up during the week, something to make someone smile,'' Mitchell said. "I'm glad I got the opportunities to go out and make plays."

Said fellow Eagles wideout Todd Pinkston: "Freddie was being Freddie. It was him having fun."

Eagles Coach Andy Reid took the same approach when he was asked about Mitchell's celebration that he usually took during the regular season when asked about Owens's often-creative on-field antics: He said (or perhaps pretended) he hadn't seen it.

"What did he do?" Reid asked reporters, then quickly reconsidered and said: "Don't tell me what he did."

Mitchell also demonstrated some Owens-like bravado when, shortly after calling himself "a special player," he said after the game: "I just want to thank my hands for being so great."

Mitchell scored a second touchdown when the ball sailed directly to him on a second-quarter fumble by Eagles tight end L.J. Smith. Reid said, "I'm not sure I'd be able to put up with him if he scored that third touchdown."

The third touchdown didn't come because it was overturned by an instant-replay review in the third quarter that showed Mitchell losing the ball out of the end zone before reaching the goal line with a dive. But Reid wasn't upset, saying: "That's a try-hard play. . . . I'm never going to get on him about trying hard."

The Eagles used several formations in which they had tailback Brian Westbrook line up at wide receiver. On one of those occasions, Westbrook lost linebacker E.J. Henderson to catch a seven-yard touchdown pass from McNabb two plays into the second quarter. . . .

Eagles right tackle Jon Runyan suffered a knee injury late in the game. But Reid said he didn't think the injury was serious, calling it a strain.

They're Belichick's Patriots

Of the 62 players on the Patriots' active roster or injured reserve list, 55 have been acquired since Coach Bill Belichick arrived in New England in 2000. Of the 40 players who have started for the Patriots this season, 35 were acquired by Belichick and Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli.

Last year, when the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three seasons, 42 players started games for New England. . . .

The Patriots came into their first postseason game with a 19-game winning streak at home in the regular season and playoffs, the longest home streak in the NFL. The Patriots haven't lost at home in the playoffs since Dec. 31, 1978, and haven't lost at home in the regular season since a 30-17 loss to the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002. Since moving to Gillette Stadium three years ago, they are 23-3, and their .885 winning percentage is the highest of any NFL team at its current home. . . .

Indianapolis had defensive end Robert Mathis on its inactive list, a major loss because he had 10 1/2 sacks this season, second on the Colts to Dwight Freeney's 11 1/2. The Patriots also had a significant loss on their defensive line, with Pro Bowl starter Richard Seymour on the inactive list; he suffered a knee injury in the Patriots' next-to-last regular season game against the Jets.

Shapiro reported from Foxboro, Mass.

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