Sure, there was still an entire half to play; New York even took another lead, but make no mistake that the genesis of the Eagles' 23-11 victory at Giants Stadium came with 1:33 left in the first half.
It wasn't just that McNabb drove the Eagles 68 yards in 12 plays.
It wasn't just that the drive produced a 25-yard field goal by David Akers that put the Birds up at the half, 10-8.
It was that in that 1 1/2-minute span, McNabb found the rhythm he is so fond of talking about.
Once he did, the Giants were done and the Eagles were headed for the NFC Championship Game for the fifth time in McNabb's 10-year career.
"I think it played a major role for us in knowing what we needed to do to change things around," said McNabb, who will try for his second Super Bowl trip on Sunday at the Arizona Cardinals. "I thought early on in the first part of the game we were trying to do too much with seven-step drops and not timing routes.
"We had to go back to things that we had been doing all throughout the season. I thought what was provide more confidence coming off the field and that in the second half we could throw the ball against this team."
McNabb was a different quarterback after the 2-minute drill.
Before McNabb completed 5 of 9 passes for 50 yards during that drive, he had completed 4 of 9 passes for just 18 yards.
He also had thrown an interception that had led to a New York field goal and got called for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety.
But McNabb carried the momentum from the end of the second quarter into the second half, driving the Eagles 58 yards for a field goal, 63 yards ending with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek and 46 yards for an Akers field goal.
In the final 31:33, McNabb completed 18 of 31 passes for 199 yards.
After controlling the ball for fewer than 13 minutes in the first half, McNabb and the Birds had the ball for nearly 17 minutes in the second half.
Most importantly, the Eagles outscored the Giants, 16-3, in the final 31:33.
Just as he had done a week ago against Minnesota in the wild- card round, McNabb made a number of backbreaking throws against the Giants in the second half.
It started early in the third quarter after New York had taken an 11-10 lead. The Eagles faced a third-and-20 on their own 15.
McNabb moved around to buy some time and hit Jason Avant with a 21-yard pass for a first down. That drive ended in a 35-yard field goal by Akers that put the Eagles ahead to stay.
"We did everything we could on first and second down to get them into a third-and-20 situation," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We got some
really good pressure on McNabb, but he did a good job avoiding it and made us pay. That play was a perfect example of how they were able to win today. They made plays when they needed to."
That seems to be the modus
operandi for McNabb, who has led the Eagles out of the dumps to the verge of a berth in Super Bowl XLIII.
He's played as well as any quarterback in the league since the Eagles dropped to 5-5-1 and were seemingly out of the playoffs.
McNabb is having fun again - so much, that he drew a silly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for picking up the phone on the Giants' sideline and pretending to make a call after scrambling for an 8-yard gain late in the game.
"I didn't say anything," said McNabb, who will become just the seventh quarterback to start at least five conference championship games. "I've just been having so much fun during this run. I kind of got caught up in the moment a little bit.
"I was just having fun, but it's something that I just do. I apologize to the team and the coaches for that."
And now McNabb is another step closer to the only thing missing from his resume - a Super Bowl championship.
"We get another week of work," McNabb said. "It's an exciting time for all of us. This is a fifth NFC Championship Game for me.
"If we can go to Arizona and win, and then have the opportunity for the Super Bowl in Tampa and win, this will obviously be more sweeter than the rest of them." *
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