PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Jeff Garcia has put Terrell Owens behind him and only cares about what’s up ahead: a surprising playoff push he’s leading with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Once part of a mostly one-sided feud with T.O., Garcia squashed all questions about his former teammate faster than he put away Carolina, Washington and the New York Giants.

Maybe Garcia learned more from Donovan McNabb than how to run Philadelphia’s offense. This time, it could be Garcia’s turn to torment Owens if the Eagles can knock off Dallas on Monday.

“It’s the next big game for us,” Garcia said Thursday. “It’s a game that we are excited about playing. It’s an awesome opportunity we basically forced ourselves back into with persevering and doing the things that we needed to over the last three or four weeks.”

Garcia has played like a Pro Bowl quarterback since replacing McNabb, who went down with a season-ending knee injury last month.

He’s thrown for 1,042 yards, nine touchdowns, only one interception and is 3-1 in four starts, saving a season that seemingly was destined for another early ending.

Instead, the Eagles (8-6) can clinch a playoff berth with a victory and return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Cowboys (9-5) would win the NFC East with a victory. Philadelphia won the first meeting, 38-24 in early October in the hyped return of Owens to Philly.

“We’re talking about the Cowboys. We haven’t done anything yet,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Philly’s one-year postseason absence is nothing compared to Garcia’s personal drought. He took the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs after the 2002 season, but hasn’t made it back thanks to dreadful stops in Cleveland and Detroit. Already a season of professional rebirth for Garcia, the idea of leading the Eagles to their fifth division title in six years has added an extra jolt to the veteran.

“It’s a great position to be in, to have this opportunity to really be challenging for something special at the end of the season (after) having not experienced that in the last three years,” Garcia said.

When the Eagles made their run to the 2005 Super Bowl, it was Owens who electrified the city and franchise as the supposed final piece to the title picture. While he missed the NFC playoffs with an ankle injury, Owens made a valiant return to play in Philadelphia’s loss to New England in the Super Bowl.

The relationship fizzled once Owens started taking potshots at McNabb and griping about his contract. Of course, it wasn’t the first time Owens took aim on a QB. While Owens was Garcia’s top target on the field, Garcia was publicly jabbed by the outrageous wideout off the field.

In his autobiography and other interviews, Owens ripped Garcia’s playing ability and leadership skills. Owens has even questioned Garcia’s sexuality. Owens also later said had he played with a better QB in San Francisco he would have better career stats.

The pair went to three Pro Bowls and made two playoff appearances as one of the league’s top pass-and-catch combinations.

“I don’t have anything against the guy,” Owens said Thursday. “My focus is really trying to beat those guys. It’s not about me or Jeff, and I commend him on the job he’s doing there.”

Garcia refused to dwell on the falling out he had with Owens and the 49ers.

“San Francisco was an awesome experience for me,” Garcia said. “Never did I anticipate that I wouldn’t start and finish my career in San Francisco. It’s just unfortunate that things change. It’s the nature of the business. But everything that I experienced there really taught me so much, and it allowed me to experience such great success, not only individually, but also as a team.”

Now, it looks like he can experience that winning feeling again in Philadelphia. Clinching a postseason berth against Owens and the Cowboys can only make it better.

AP-ES-12-21-06 1917EST

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