Terrell Owens turned in a healthy performance (9 receptions, 122 yards), as Randall Gay (right) could attest.
Terrell Owens turned in a healthy performance (9 receptions, 122 yards), as Randall Gay (right) could attest. (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis) Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis

His was gutsy effort

Owens returns, has an impact

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / February 7, 2005

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For two weeks, the speculation had centered around Terrell Owens's health. Could the Eagles wide receiver, who had been out since Dec. 19 with a high ankle sprain and fractured right fibula, play in last night's Super Bowl against the Patriots?

The medical consensus was that the receiver had suffered a season-ending injury as Owens -- with a metal plate and two screws in his ankle -- would need 10-12 weeks of recovery time.

T.O. was back, just as he predicted. And as the Eagles battled the Patriots in the quest for their first NFL championship since 1960, Owens tried his best to bring his team to victory, making nine receptions for 122 yards.

But in the end, as the Eagles made a final comeback in the final minutes, it wasn't enough as the Patriots won their third Super Bowl title in the last four years with a 24-21 victory at Alltel Stadium.

For Owens, it easily could have been an "I told you so" night.

He did everything right. He caught short passes. He caught long passes. He caught passes on the sideline. He caught passes over the middle. He served as a decoy, which allowed more freedom for the other Eagles receivers.

Eagles coach Andy Reid had been cautious about making any predictions about how much and how well Owens could play, saying Owens's availability would be a game-time decision.

"He told me last night [that he was going to start]," said Owens, who said there was no decision to make -- he was going to play.

"I thought he did a heck of a job," said Reid. "He played a few more snaps than I thought he would, and I thought he had a great effort."

"I thought T.O. played good," said Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Owens said the effort did not take a toll on his body -- at least not anything he couldn't handle. "I feel fine," said Owens. "Nobody in the world gave me a chance to start, except me."

Owens said there were other factors involved in the Patriots' victory. "We played a great team," he said. "But we had a lot of turnovers. We made too many mistakes. We just came up short."

As for his play, Owens made it sound like a day at the beach. "I wasn't fatigued at all," he said.

Someone asked Owens about his reputation for having as much mouth as talent. "In this situation, if it had been [Packers quarterback] Brett Favre, he would have been called a warrior," said Owens.

From the start, Owens made it clear that he was at game-day strength and ability.

"I played as many plays as the coach called for," said Owens. "I've been what I've been all year. I made plays."

His bravado aside, Owens had his own way of preparing to play. He brought in outside people who gave him massages, and he brought a hyperbaric chamber for treatment, reportedly even sleeping in it.

The Eagles scored first, but the Patriots broke from a 7-7 halftime tie and built a 24-14 fourth-quarter lead before the Eagles made one last comeback.

It was Owens who made plays when they had to be made. But there weren't enough of them.

Owens gave credit where credit belonged.

"I told [the Patriots] we'll be back in the hunt," said Owens. "The ultimate goal is not to be satisfied by getting to the Super Bowl. The goal is to win it. We came up short. We let it slip away."

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