Tough to swallow

Tough to swallow

It turned out Patriots safety Rodney Harrison had something to prove after Philadelphia receiver Freddie Mitchell disparaged New England's no-name secondary. And for the third time in four years the Patriots are Super Bowl Champions.

By winning their third Super Bowl in four years, the Patriots joined the Dallas Cowboys as the only teams ever to do so. The Cowboys won Super Bowls XXVII, XVIII and XXX (1992-93 and '95 seasons). The Patriots became the seventh franchise to win three Super Bowls.

The Patriots extended their playoff streak to nine in a row, tying the Green Bay Packers (1961-67) for the most in NFL history. Their last postseason loss came on Jan. 3, 1999 when the Jaguars beat them 25-10 in the 1998 wild-card game at Alltel Stadium.

Prior to the game Mitchell said he only knew the Patriots' secondary by their jersey numbers and that he had "something" for New England's defensive backs.  Mitchell was silenced as he finished with one catch for 11 yards, while Harrison collected seven tackles and a sack to go with his two picks.

Harrison ended the game and the Eagles' comeback hopes with a pick on Philadelphia's 28-yard line with nine seconds left.

The game was  characterized by miscues from the Eagle offense and quarterback Donovan McNabb from the onset.    Immediately after having an interception by cornerback Asante Samuel called back because of a penalty, McNabb lofted a  ball toward the end zone that Harrison intercepted in front of intended running back Brian Westbrook.

McNabb seemed confused by New England's ''Cali Defense''  which featured a switch to a more traditional four-man defensive line, and his critical mistakes mostly came in the first half when the Eagles were in excellent position to get several early scores and put the game away.

Even the heroic efforts from Terrell Owens was not enough. 

Owens had been sidelined for the team's final four contests after sustaining a broken fibula and a severely sprained right ankle in a December 19 win against Dallas. Surgery was then performed a few days later and questions about his availability for a  trip to the Super Bowl  lingered. Yet playing with a metal plate and two screws in his right ankle, Owen finished the game with nine receptions for 122 yards.

And after finally making it to the big show the feeling of being so close to victory left Reid eager to take another shot at a championship.    "The positive you get out of it is that the guys got a taste of it and I'm sure they will want to come back," Reid said. "It's a great experience. It's a great football game."

"I told my guys they really battled," Reid said after the game. "We could have done a better job putting our guys in better position to make plays offensively. But I was proud of the effort my guys gave."

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