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Playoff Notebook

Westbrook Thrives as Workhorse

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 24, 2005; Page D11

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 23 -- Tailback Brian Westbrook became quarterback Donovan McNabb's favorite receiver, as well as the Eagles' top running threat, when wide receiver Terrell Owens got hurt last month. Westbrook continued to thrive Sunday as a focal point of the Eagles' offense, providing 96 rushing yards and 39 receiving yards during the team's 27-10 win over the Falcons in the NFC title game.

"He's a great player," Eagles Coach Andy Reid said. "I think everybody knows that. He's on center stage now, and he's showing what he can do. He did what he's done all year."


Brian Westbrook has emerged as a focal point of the Eagles' offense since Terrell Owens's injury last month. (George Widman -- AP)


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Westbrook missed last season's playoffs because of a torn triceps tendon suffered during the regular season finale against the Washington Redskins, and he demonstrated in two games during these NFC playoffs what a postseason difference-maker he can be.

"I didn't get to play last year, and I was definitely disappointed," Westbrook said. "But I'm happy that we won, and we have one more step to go. We are definitely not happy just because we made it this far to the Super Bowl. Now we want to go out and win the next game, and it will be even sweeter."

A Source of Motivation

Steelers running back Duce Staley had more motivation than most on the field Sunday. His father, Lanny, had pancreatic cancer diagnosed in November and has been told he has six to 12 months to live.

Staley's parents were divorced when he was a child, and he did not have much of a relationship with his father over the years. But since the diagnosis, they have tried to become closer, and Staley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week that "us winning has definitely pushed him along through most of this. It's a positive energy for him.

"I can't be sure when he's going to take his last breath or when I'll talk to him for the last time," Staley said.

Staff writer Leonard Shapiro contributed to this report from Pittsburgh.


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