© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003
PHILADELPHIA -- By remaining calm and keeping his team focused after injuries to quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer could have ruined the season, Andy Reid steered the Eagles to a 12-4 record and the NFC East title.
On Saturday, Reid was recognized as Associated Press Coach of the Year. Reid received 35 votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters to finish well ahead of Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher.
"I'm a bit of a realist on this," Reid said recently. "Without good players and good coaches, you can't sit in this chair and be successful. I'm very fortunate to have that and then the support of the organization. It's not one guy, that's for sure."
But Reid undoubtedly has been key to the Eagles' rebirth.
After going 5-11 in his first season, the Eagles are 34-14 in the regular season since.
"A lot of coaches want to evaluate talent, they want to know which guys are going to be fighting for them," Eagles running back Duce Staley said. "He really wanted to know about the guys, the leadership. I'm sure that's paying off now."
ANNIVERSARY PARTY: Saturday marked the 16th anniversary of one of the most significant moments in Dan Reeves' coaching career. Known as The Drive, quarterback John Elway and the Reeves-led Broncos drove 98 yards in 15 plays and scored to force overtime in the 1987 AFC Championship game against the Browns. Denver won in overtime on a field goal by Rich Karlis but lost to the Redskins 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII at Jack Murphy Stadium.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Had Warrick Dunn not signed with the Falcons as a free agent before this season, he might have landed in Philadelphia as Duce Staley's replacement. Entering Saturday's divisional playoff game Dunn had 927 rushing yards and seven touchdowns; Staley had 1,029 with five touchdowns. Staley also had 541 receiving yards, Dunn 377.
HITTING THE RHODES: Denver defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, Coach of the Year in 1995 for the Eagles, resigned after consecutive disappointing seasons. The Broncos hired Rhodes in 2001 in an effort to improve a defense that had been one of the worst in the league. It improved from 24th in the league to eighth last season and sixth this season.
ODDS AND ENDS: Falcons safety Keion Carpenter suffered a jammed neck on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage. He was injured colliding headfirst with Staley near the goal line. ... Falcons cornerback Juran Bolden started in place of Ray Buchanan but injured his right knee in the second quarter. ... Temperature at kickoff was 29 degrees. The wind-chill factor was 20 degrees.
-- KEVIN KELLY, Times wires