PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles are defying football cliches by thinking two games at a time rather than one.
"I think no one really says it but everyone knows. We've been here before," offensive tackle Tra Thomas said as the Eagles, who have lost the last two NFC Championship games, prepared to play Green Bay today in a divisional playoff game.
"It's not a big celebration for us to make it to the playoffs and be division champions, so we're just going to keep pushing and we have a major goal in mind," Thomas added. "I don't think anyone is going to settle until we reach it."
The goal, of course, is the Super Bowl, two games away. In the past two seasons, the Eagles got by their first playoff game but lost the second -- two years ago at St. Louis, then last season at home to Tampa Bay.
Philadelphia started 0-2 and was 2-3 as Donovan McNabb, bothered by a thumb injury, got off to a horrible start. Then the Eagles ran off nine straight wins and gained a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 12-4 record.
The Packers were 4-5 after losing, 17-14, at home to the Eagles Nov. 10, a Monday night contest in which the winning score came on a 6-yard TD pass from McNabb to Todd Pinkston with 27 seconds left. Then they won six of seven, including their last four, but still needed a last-minute miracle touchdown by Arizona to knock Minnesota out of the playoffs and put them in. They beat Seattle in overtime last week on an interception return by former Eagle Al Harris.
One theory is that the Packers (11-6) have something more than luck and skill working for them because of the death of Brett Favre's father, Irvin, three weeks ago. Are they a "team of destiny" because of it, or simply a team that started playing its best at the most important time?
Try the latter.
Favre, playing with a splint on his thumb, fumbled three times in the rain during the first Eagles game and Ahman Green fumbled twice. Neither has dropped the ball since -- Green in 219 touches as he finished with 1,883 yards rushing, second in the league to Baltimore's Jamal Lewis.
The Eagles' advantage would seem to be home field. Teams with first-round byes are 43-9 in the second round since 1990, the first season there were six playoff teams from each conference. But three of Philly's four losses this season came at its new home, Lincoln Financial Field, which doesn't seem to terrify visitors the way crumbling Veterans Stadium did.
Nor will the prospect of cold weather at the 4:45 p.m. kickoff scare Green Bay, the ultimate cold-weather team.
"I like playing in places like that," said center Mike Flanagan of the Packers, who are 6-3 at home and 5-3 on the road this season. "If you can take the fans out of the game, it's a little bit of satisfaction, but ultimately it's played between the hashes."