The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots qualified for the next round of the play-offs when they disposed of the two New York teams, the Giants and the Jets, on Sunday. They join Saturday's winners, Seattle and Indianapolis, as the race for a place in Super Bowl XLI has been reduced to eight.
The Eagles edged past the Giants 23-20, when David Akers converted a 38-yard field goal as time expired. Defeat for the New Yorkers meant the end for their talented running back, Tiki Barber, who announced his retirement after 10 years of sustained excellence.
"My legacy will be of someone who played through the ups and downs, good times and bad," said Barber. The end may also have arrived for the Giants' coach, Tom Coughlin, who saw his side collapse in the second half of the season. His dismissal is widely expected. "I'll have something to say about that later in the week," was the ominous comment from the team's co-owner, John Mara. There was no joy for the city's other team, the Jets, who were thrashed 37-16 by the Patriots. Their first-year head coach, Eric Mangini, had spent the past six seasons with New England, as part of the coach Bill Belichick's staff. Belichick produced a perfect gameplan which enabled the Patriots to stroll to victory.
New England visit San Diego next weekend, while the Eagles travel to New Orleans. In the other second-round play-off contests, the Chicago Bears entertain the Seattle Seahawks, while the Indianapolis Colts visit the Baltimore Ravens.