- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — As Jeremiah Trotter and Ike Reese drove to Lincoln Financial Field together Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles’ veteran linebackers talked seriously about the task ahead in that afternoon’s divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings.

“We were talking about where we are in our careers and the opportunity we have,” Reese said. “I told him how happy I was that he was back on this team in postseason and that I needed him to go out and set the tempo. He did that. He was making big hit after big hit.”

Trotter, who led the Eagles with seven tackles in the 27-14 victory over the Vikings, made a particularly big one on Randy Moss that prompted the receiver to come up shoving.

“I was just trying to frustrate him a little bit,” Trotter said with a smile.

Trotter and Reese, rookies together on the 3-13 Eagles of 1998, dealt the Vikings plenty of frustration in the third quarter, ending consecutive series with interceptions of quarterback Daunte Culpepper inside the Philadelphia 35-yard line. Those pickoffs just about squelched any thoughts of a Minnesota comeback.

“Jeremiah was playing like crazy,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “He did a heck of a job. Ike kind of gives you that very stable personality. Everything’s cool, but yet he’s playing hard and making plays. The guys play off both of those guys.”

Reese has started just five games in his career, but he’s one of the Eagles’ leaders. After Sunday’s victory, he addressed the team about making sure it doesn’t let a fourth shot at the Super Bowl slip away this week against Atlanta.

“‘Sacrifice for a week. Sacrifice for the good of the team, whatever it is. Do extra,’” Reese said. “This ball club is playing at a high level. If we play our game, there’s no way we can be beat.”

Although Trotter and Reese will end the season together in the Pro Bowl, it hasn’t been a seamless ride to Hawaii for either.

Trotter, a starter in his second year and a Pro Bowl pick the next season, left for Washington in 2002 after a dispute with Reid over money. He didn’t live up to expectations with the Redskins and was cut last spring, then humbled himself by agreeing to return to Philadelphia as a backup and special teams player.

Reese has filled those roles throughout his seven seasons, watching a series of players man the starting outside linebacker spots. His first Pro Bowl selection is a reward for his perseverance.

“The mind-set is when you get out there, take advantage of it and make something happen,” Reese said. “Jeremiah ate his humble pie when he came in, but I’m happy that he got the starting job because I might not have made it to the Pro Bowl if he had stayed on special teams [and taken that spot].”

Trotter certainly appreciates being back at this point.

“For myself, this is more special because of everything I had to go through to get back here,” Trotter said. “I just thank God for being back here and being in the position to go to the Super Bowl.”

Trotter became a starter at midseason and has been pivotal. The Eagles’ defense cut its rushing yards allowed from 130.6 yards to 83.5 in the six games after Trotter became a starter (before Reid rested most of the regulars in the final two contests). The Vikings ran for 97 yards a day after the Falcons’ NFL-best ground game trampled St. Louis for 327 yards in a 47-17 rout.

“They have three outstanding backs when you include [quarterback Michael] Vick,” Trotter said. “I probably have to have my greatest game ever. I’ll have to make a lot more plays than I did last week because they run the ball. We don’t have to do anything different. If we keep things going, we’ll be fine.”

Of course, Trotter thought his old team was going to be just fine the past two NFC title games against visiting Tampa Bay and Carolina, but Philadelphia lost both badly.

“I was definitely shocked,” Trotter said. “I believe I could have made a difference. Without a doubt they were the better team both of those years, but it wasn’t their time. This is our year.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide