Wide receiver Terrell Owens said he had a few end-zone celebrations prepared for Sunday's game against the team he shunned in the offseason, the Baltimore Ravens. But he only scored one touchdown, so he only could unveil the best of the bunch -- his on-target imitation of the dance routinely performed by Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis during pregame introductions.
"It's the Ray Lewis dance," Owens said after catching eight passes for 101 yards in a 15-10 triumph at Lincoln Financial Field that left the Philadelphia Eagles as the NFL's only unbeaten team. "I can't do it like he does it, but I tried my best."
Ravens players, including Lewis, didn't like Owens's antics. "Don't be a coward and wait until you make one play to do something," Lewis said. Owens didn't care.
"It was all fun,'' Owens said. "That's what I do. I go out there and make plays. If I score, everybody knows I'm going to do something. A lot of people, they don't like it. They [the Ravens] didn't like it. But I think Shannon Sharpe says it best: 'If you don't like what I do, stop me from getting in the end zone.' . . . But if I'm on top of my game, it's going to be hard to do that."
His performance was a reminder for the Ravens of why they wanted him so badly in the offseason, when they thought they had completed a trade with the San Francisco 49ers to acquire the four-time Pro Bowl wideout before Owens used the leverage from the dispute over his free agent status to force a trade to the Eagles instead. When the Ravens played a preseason game here, Owens had an 81-yard touchdown catch on the Eagles' first offensive play. On Sunday, he made the game's decisive play, gathering in a short pass from quarterback Donovan McNabb and outmaneuvering three Ravens defenders to get into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown and a 15-3 Eagles lead in the fourth quarter.
"I thought he was going down at that point [when he caught the ball], but he shed a tackle and accelerated to the corner of the end zone," McNabb said.
Owens has topped 100 receiving yards in five straight games and the Eagles are off to the first 7-0 start in franchise history. They won Sunday without tailback Brian Westbrook, who suffered a cracked rib in an overtime win at Cleveland the week before, and they had a second straight hard-fought victory to savor after winning each of their first five games of the season by at least 10 points.
"It means a lot,'' McNabb said. "It means that we obviously are going in the right direction. It gives us more confidence going into each game. It lets people know what type of team we have. When they talk about the best teams in the NFL, they have to mention us early."
Said Eagles Coach Andy Reid: "I congratulate the players. . . . They'll battle and they don't get down. Those are two good characteristics to have."
Owens has been a difference-maker all season. When he hasn't been making big plays on his own, he has been distracting defenses to create openings for his teammates. He also has brought a swagger to the Eagles that they needed after losing three NFC championship games in a row.
"It's great,'' Owens said. "We won. We've got to move on from it. . . . This gets us that much closer to the playoffs, that much closer to the Super Bowl. But we've got to just take it one game at a time."
For Owens, Sunday's win was further vindication that he made the right choice in March by resisting the proposed trade to the Ravens that would have paired him with Baltimore's young quarterback, Kyle Boller, instead of McNabb.
"I didn't want any part of that," Owens said. "I just wanted to have an opportunity to play in the West Coast offense, which I'm very familiar with, and an opportunity to play with Donovan. This is what I really fought for. I think everybody should be able to see the picture now."
Said McNabb: "I'm sure he was glad he was on our side of the field. I don't think he would have been too happy on that other side."