JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 7 -- The Philadelphia Eagles overcame their own playoff curse this season, finally reaching the Super Bowl after losing the NFC title game in each of the previous three seasons. But now, after losing to the New England Patriots, 24-21, Sunday night, they will face a new curse -- that of the Super Bowl loser.
The past four Super Bowl losers have followed up with a losing record the next season. This season's Carolina Panthers were the latest, following the 2001 New York Giants, 2002 St. Louis Rams and 2003 Oakland Raiders. Eagles Coach Andy Reid said during a news conference Monday morning that he was aware of the trend, but indicated he is confident his club is well-stocked for another run at a Super Bowl title next season.
Eagles Coach Andy Reid arrives in Philadelphia, knowing that the previous four Super Bowl losers didn't have a winning record the following season.
(George Widman -- AP)
"I do understand the history of that, and I know that's a tough thing," Reid said. "Obviously you have to have a few breaks go your way. Some of those teams had a lot of injuries. . . . The reason I think we can get back here is we have a great nucleus of young players who have had a taste of this thing. We've got the top quarterback in the National Football League."
That quarterback, Donovan McNabb, threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns -- and three interceptions -- Sunday. McNabb blamed himself for the loss but said the Eagles still had a successful season, making the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance in 24 years. "We've had a special year," McNabb said late Sunday night.
Reid took his share of the blame Monday, saying he would reexamine the moves he made to put McNabb into the situations that produced the interceptions.
"Heck, we'll get over it," Reid said. "We'll get through this thing, and we'll come back and learn from it. The players got a little taste of what it's like being here. There is nothing like it. There is nothing like Super Bowl Sunday. . . . When you get there, you want to get back. And when you get back, you want to win the game."
The Eagles are well-positioned for another run, especially in the underwhelming NFC. Reid should be able to keep all or practically all of his assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Brad Childress and defensive boss Jim Johnson.
The Eagles have some work to do before the free agent market opens in March. Defensive tackle Corey Simon, defensive end Derrick Burgess, linebackers Jeremiah Trotter and Keith Adams, guard Jermane Mayberry, tight end Chad Lewis and tailbacks Dorsey Levens and Correll Buckhalter are among the Eagles players eligible for unrestricted free agency. Tailback Brian Westbrook is eligible for restricted free agency, giving the Eagles the ability to retain him by matching any offer by another team. But the club always has been skilled at managing the salary cap and retaining its free agents.
"Three points -- we're right there [in Sunday's game]," Reid said. "Like I said, if we eliminate those turnovers, we become the best team in football. We've got the players right here to do that."
Harrison's Parting Shot
After sparring verbally with Patriots safety Rodney Harrison in the days leading up to the game, Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell caught fewer McNabb passes Sunday night (one) than Harrison did (two). Said Harrison, "Freddie probably bit off more than he could chew." . . .
Tennessee apparently is willing to pay Norm Chow about $900,000 per season to leave USC to become the Titans' offensive coordinator. Chow has helped the Trojans to the last two collegiate national championships as their offensive boss under Coach Pete Carroll. . . .
According to several reports, New York Jets quarterback Quincy Carter has checked into a drug rehabilitation center. The Jets excused Carter from their season-ending playoff loss at Pittsburgh, and club officials said at the time that Carter left the team to be with his ailing mother. Carter also has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to reports. The former Dallas starter was released by the Cowboys in training camp, reportedly after failing a drug test. . . .
The last 12 Super Bowls have each featured a different losing team: Philadelphia, Carolina, Oakland, St. Louis, New York Giants, Tennessee, Atlanta, Green Bay, New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Buffalo. . . . This year's Super Bowl was 27 minutes shorter than last year's. . . .
An early estimate of TV ratings for the Super Bowl showed a 2 percent dip from last year's game. The game drew a 43.4 rating and 63 share on Fox in Nielsen Media Research's overnight measurement of 56 big cities, down from last season's 44.2 rating and 63 share for Patriots-Panthers. But Fox said the early rating is up 2 percent from the average of the past five years.
News services contributed to this report.