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Eagles must face playoffs without Owens

The parade is on hold. Those plane tickets to the Super Bowl are being double-checked to see if they're refundable.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The parade is on hold. Those plane tickets to the Super Bowl are being double-checked to see if they're refundable.

Move over Boston. Quit cryin' Chicago. Want to talk about hexes and curses? Move to Philadelphia.

Terrell Owens, the playmaking, showboating and game-breaking wide receiver for the Eagles, is out for the rest of the regular season, the playoffs and probably the Super Bowl if they get that far with a sprained ankle.

TO has been TKO'd for the year, and suddenly fans and players in Minnesota, Green Bay and Atlanta are smiling.

The Philly faithful, meanwhile, are asking for a double. Yup, this was a two cheesesteak kind of a night.

I think it's a devastating blow to the Eagles' chances,'' said fan Jamal Martin as he munched on finger foods at a downtown watering hole.I don't know if they can recover.''

Philly fans pessimistic? That's like asking if the sky is blue.

Though long-suffering Eagles fans would never be so foolish to think a trip to the Super Bowl was a lock, even though their team is clearly the best in the NFC this season, it seemed this really would be their year.

The news hit the Eagles (13-1) on Monday like a sucker punch to the gut _ Owens is likely finished and needs surgery, a crippling blow to a team that has lost three straight NFC title games.

I was looking forward to the playoffs, really trying to get this team to the Super Bowl,'' Owens said.I think without me, still, they achieve that goal.

There's no reason for the city of Philadelphia to get down because I'm not there,'' he said.Obviously, my presence will be missed, but we have the guys to get it done.''

Perhaps, but it's going to get a whole lot harder without Owens. The NFC East champion Eagles are left without their biggest offensive threat, their most animated player.

He's a great player, but can the offense go on? Absolutely,'' coach Andy Reid said Monday.We have some pretty good players on this offensive unit, so it'll still function and do very well this week.''

But without Owens, the Eagles will be left with basically the same lackluster receiving corps that has disappeared when needed in the title games. Freddie Mitchell or Greg Lewis could join Todd Pinkston as the other starting wideout. Those three have a combined 60 catches for 1,073 yards.

Pinkston has an injured knee. Reid said the Eagles will activate wide receiver Billy McMullen. Running back Brian Westbrook, who missed the playoffs last year, will also get more looks.

Owens, who has 77 catches for 1,200 yards and a team-record 14 touchdowns, also has a fracture a few inches below his knee. Head trainer Rick Burkholder said the fracture is not as serious, and will be allowed to heal on its own.

Owens will have surgery Wednesday and stands only an outside shot at being able to play in the NFL's championship game on Feb. 6.

We're talking about playing in one game that he's never played in before,'' Burkholder said.He could do it safely.''

Owens had an MRI at the Eagles' complex Monday morning, and complained of pain in his lower leg. He then saw an ankle specialist in Baltimore. Tests revealed a sprained deltoid ligament

I went down there optimistic, hoping for the best, and I got the worst of news,'' Owens said.Things happen. You've just got to move on from it.''

Owens still planned on playing in Jacksonville, Fla., site of the Super Bowl _ which the Eagles have never won.

They will probably have to put me in a straitjacket,'' he said.Other than that, I feel overwhelmingly confident that they can win the two playoff games, the championship, obviously. Depending on how my rehab process goes, if I am able to go, God willing, then I am going to give it a shot.''

Owens was hurt on the second play of the third quarter of Philadelphia's win over Dallas on Sunday when he was dragged down from behind by Roy Williams on a 20-yard reception. Owens immediately grabbed the back of his leg, which was bent backward.

With it went so many of the Super Bowl hopes because the Eagles receivers were tagged as the biggest reason for their postseason failures the last three seasons.

The Eagles finished first in the conference three straight years, but couldn't take advantage of playing at home in the last two NFC championship games, losing to Tampa Bay and Carolina. The Eagles also lost in the NFC title game in 2002, in St. Louis.

``I was bummed out when I read it today, I almost cried,'' fan Ryan Kenney said.

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