TEMPE, ARIZ., DEC. 29 -- The Philadelphia Eagles said the celebration cannot last too long. Yes, they were happy to barely escape the Phoenix Cardinals today, 23-21, before 31,796 at Sun Devil Stadium. Yes, they're more than happy to host an NFC wild-card game at Veterans Stadium, where they are 6-2 this season. Home cooking is always better this time of year in the NFL.

All of that is nice, but in the back of the Eagles' minds are the Washington Redskins, who next weekend will face the Eagles for the third time this season. When the game will be played will be announced by Monday night.

Coincidentally, there were no cocky statements from the usually cocky Eagles, just a statement of fact: They feel it will be one of the hardest-hitting games of the year.

And if it is tougher than the last encounter between the teams, when two Washington quarterbacks were knocked out of the game and Eagles players asked the Redskins if they needed any "body bags," then it might be a fistfight.

"We can't party too much because the Redskins are coming to town," said defensive tackle Mike Golic. "I'm glad we {have} them at the Vet. Last time we had them there we beat them up pretty good. I know they remember that and they'll be coming after us."

"We're going to play the Redskins," said Coach Buddy Ryan, who led his team from a 1-4 start to a 10-6 finish. "We know we get them at our house. I know the Redskins don't want to play us at Veterans Stadium."

Said quarterback Randall Cunningham, who was 13 of 19 for 172 yards and three touchdowns: "I feel very good about Washington coming to us. They might have more playoff experience than we do, but that doesn't matter."

What probably does matter to the Redskins is that while the Eagles did earn the home field, they may have paid a large price for it. In all, four Eagles were hurt today, with two of them being key players. Starting center David Alexander was carted off for X-rays of his sprained left knee, which Alexander said he hyper-extended. Defensive tackle Jerome Brown sprained his right shoulder and had his arm in a sling. Brown said he will play next weekend "no matter what," but after the game he couldn't even lift a small pouch with the injured arm.

The seriousness of those injuries won't be determined until at least the middle of the week. Also hurt were linebacker Seth Joyner, who sprained his right ankle but played late in the game, and safety Terry Hoage, who sprained his wrist.

"We're disappointed," said Ryan, "because we wanted to go into the playoffs healthy."

Ryan said that how far the Eagles go in the playoffs -- they have lost two consecutive years in the opening round -- will depend on their star quarterback. Cunningham, who finished the game with 60 yards rushing (942 for the season), was 27 yards short of breaking former Chicago Bear Bobby Douglass's single-season rushing record for a quarterback.

Cunningham has been listed as questionable for two weeks because of a swollen left knee he hurt against Green Bay. But he had a 23-yard scramble that set up a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Fred Barnett and made the score 20-7 with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Cunningham left near the end of the quarter and was replaced by Jim McMahon. Cunningham said that he and Ryan had agreed that if he didn't get the rushing record in the first two quarters he would leave the game as early as possible.

In addition to Cunningham, the Eagles have a variety of tools. Their defense held Phoenix (5-11) to seven points until the 5:53 mark in the fourth quarter and sacked Timm Rosenbach six times. Two of those sacks were by Reggie White, who has 15 this season.

"The Eagles have a good defense," said Rosenbach, who completed 19 of 31 passes for 301 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. "They've got a great front four and played a little more zone than I anticipated."

The Eagles also have an outstanding set of rookie wide receivers -- Barnett and Calvin Williams -- who scored the first two touchdowns to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead. Williams finished the regular season with nine touchdown catches, Barnett with eight.

Philadelphia demonstrated against the Cardinals what it has shown all season: a potential for greatness and the ability to make major blunders. The Cardinals seemed beaten and on the turf but scored two touchdowns in a 2:56 span. The first was a 36-yard Rosenbach pass to wide receiver Ricky Proehl. The second was a 45-yarder to wide receiver J.T. Smith at the two-minute mark to make it 23-21.

The Cardinals' onside kick was recovered by William Frizzell and the Eagles ran out the clock.

Said safety Andre Waters: "For some reason we like to make things exciting. It seems to be the Eagle way."