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NFL Playoffs

First Look

January 21, 2002

Philadelphia (13-5) at St. Louis (15-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 11

How they got there: The Rams had a first-round bye as NFC West Division champions and routed Green Bay, 45-17, in a divisional playoff game. The Eagles defeated Tampa Bay, 31-9, in a wild-card game and beat Chicago, 33-19, in a divisional playoff game.

2001 meetings: On Sept. 9, the Rams defeated the Eagles, 20-17, in overtime in Philadelphia. St. Louis leads the all-time series, 17-15-1.

Common opponents: St. Louis 3-1, Philadelphia 3-1.

About St. Louis: The Rams call their offense "The Greatest Show on Earth." MVP quarterback Kurt Warner has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, with superstar Marshall Faulk as the unit's centerpiece. Receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Rick Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakim make up the league's most dangerous group of wide receivers. One of the worst defensive showings in NFL history was the cause of the Rams' undoing in 2001, so the unit was revamped with eight new starters, including all-pro cornerback Aeneas Williams. The results were immediate, as the Rams finished third in total yards allowed.

About Philadelphia: The Eagles took another step toward respectability this season, as they won their first NFC East title in 13 years. Donovan McNabb matured into one of the NFL's most dynamic players, forcing defensive coordinators to spend hours finding a way to slow him. Running back Duce Staley emerged as a receiving threat as well as a tough runner and was backed up by talented rookie Correll Buckhalter. Receiver James Thrash gave McNabb his first deep threat and although tight end Chad Lewis didn't repeat his all-pro season of 2000, he still proved to be a valuable target in the red zone. The real heart and soul of the Eagles is in their hard-hitting defense, led by tackling machines Hugh Douglas and Jeremiah Trotter. The Eagles also field one the league's best secondaries, led by all-pros Brian Dawkins and Troy Vincent.

Roy Jurgens

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