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McNabb and Owens form prolific duo

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens have become one of the NFL's most prolific pass-catch combinations in a short time together.

They have connected for a league-best 13 touchdowns this season, helping the Philadelphia Eagles to a 9-1 start and putting Owens in position to challenge Jerry Rice's single-season record of 22 TD receptions.

A four-time Pro Bowl wideout in eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Owens credits his success this year to playing with McNabb, a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

My Thanksgiving came in March when I got to be with Donovan,'' said Owens, who is on pace to score 21 TDs.We've both gotten better because of each other's talents. We know that, and we go out to practice every day and we work on things.''

Before McNabb and Owens meshed on the field, they clicked away from it. Though they have different personalities, the two are close friends. McNabb is a prankster among teammates, but he's politically correct and conservative in interviews. Owens tends to be more serious in the locker room, but is outspoken and flamboyant on camera.

``He's a looser guy who just enjoys being around teammates and enjoys having a good time,'' McNabb said.

Owens has been a magnet for controversy throughout his career. He argued with coaches, criticized teammates and threw sideline tantrums in San Francisco. He became infamous for his TD celebrations, including posing on the Cowboys' star and pulling a pen out to autograph a football.

Already this season, Owens has made headlines for his feud with Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis, for taking part in a steamy into segment with actress Nicollette Sheridan on ``Monday Night Football,'' and, of course, for his numerous TD celebrations.

Still Owens' presence hasn't upset the Eagles' chemistry. He has been lauded by his teammates and coaches for his professionalism, attitude and work ethic.

Players enjoy having him in that locker room, and he's doing a heck of a job on the football field as a player,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid said.The guy was a great player before he came here, and he's a great player now. He's a good person, and he's fit in well.''

During Philadelphia's 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh this month, TV cameras caught Owens giving a frustrated McNabb an earful on the sideline. Both players insisted the wide receiver merely was trying to encourage the disheartened quarterback in the animated, one-sided conversation.

So after McNabb and Owens connected for a 59-yard catch-and-run TD in the first quarter of the Eagles' next game against the Cowboys, they mocked the incident by playfully arguing on the sideline.

Owens is just one TD away from setting a single-season team record, and he's two away from winning a bet with Reid that would require the coach to sport black, spandex tights. With the 49ers, Owens wore only the tights in practice. But when Owens landed in Philadelphia, Reid made him cover the tights with shorts. So they made this wager: If Owens scores 15 TDs, he'll be allowed to shed the shorts, while Reid must don the tights.

``There's no way he can get out of this,'' Owens said.

While Owens (57 catches, 908 yards) is posting big numbers in his first year with the Eagles, McNabb is having his best season. Heading into Sunday's game at the NFC East rival New York Giants, he's thrown for 2,648 yards, 22 TDs and just five interceptions, and he's also run for two scores. McNabb's completion percentage of 63.8 and quarterback rating of 105.6 are far higher than his career averages.

Before Owens came to Philadelphia, McNabb never had a playmaking receiver. He had to envy some other quarterbacks.

Peyton Manning has Marvin Harrison. Daunte Culpepper has Randy Moss. Joe Montana and Steve Young had Jerry Rice. Dan Marino had Mark Clayton. Jim Kelly had Andre Reed.

The big thing about T.O. is that he works extremely hard to be the best at what he does,'' McNabb said.You see him at practice and he's out competing hard and getting in a good workout. It just so happens when he gets in the end zone, he'll exert a little more energy then usual with his dances. But we have no problem with his dances _ although some of them he needs to work on.''

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