Owens comes alive in second half

PHILADELPHIA -- Terrell Owens got what he deserved.

The "haters" among you out there, those feeling that what T.O. really deserves is a good, ol'-fashioned butt whuppin' for some of the things he has said and done during a brilliant career that is sometimes overshadowed by statements and acts of stupidity, would disagree. And the Baltimore Ravens, whom Owens spurned in the offseason, preferring to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, now have an even bigger score to settle after the stunt Owens pulled Sunday: He imitated the trademark routine of their leader, Ray Lewis.

Owens may turn a lot of people off with his elaborate end zone celebrations, but you have to give it up to the man: He's on his game. And when the long-awaited meeting between Philadelphia and Baltimore was at its most critical point, the Ravens couldn't keep T.O. out of the end zone. When they needed to stop him, they couldn't. And until someone does, Owens will keep imitating Diddy.

He won't stop.

Because he can't stop.

Right now, he can't be stopped.

Through seven games Owens has 42 receptions for 697 yards and nine touchdowns. Including Sunday's eight-catch, 101-yard effort against one of the league's best defenses, he has amassed at least 100 receiving yards in five consecutive games, a team record. His team's record, by the way, is 7-0, a first in franchise history.

It's like this: To the victor go the spoils.

"You get that when you let him score," Ravens free safety Corey Fuller said after Philly's 15-10 win, which dropped Baltimore to 4-3. "If you don't let him score, you don't get that dance. That's on us."

"That dance" came after Owens broke open a 9-3 game with an 11-yard touchdown catch from Donovan McNabb 5 minutes, 48 seconds into the fourth quarter. It was third-and-10, with the Eagles needing another field goal to, for all intents and purposes, put the game away against the offensively challenged Ravens. McNabb hit Owens on a slant.

"I put it in a position where he could catch it and I actually thought he was going down at the time," McNabb said.

Nope. A split second later, Owens instead would be reaching down for a few blades of grass, taking a sniff, and tossing them skyward, ala Ray Lewis. Owens made the catch and avoided Gary Baxter and Ed Reed on his way to his 90th career receiving touchdown, making him one of only seven players to reach that milestone. After he took it to the house, Owens brought down the house by performing Lewis' signature pregame introduction dance.

It's a little hard to describe, especially for someone who can't dance, but it involves a lot of rapid arm and leg movements with some sliding.

For those who missed it, it was pretty good.

"I saw him when he did it at the Super Bowl [in 2001]," said Owens of Lewis, explaining the inspiration for the celebration. "Every time they have intro, he's a highlight film, just like I'm a highlight film. The camera is going to follow him and I've seen it time and time again on ESPN. I was just trying to have a little fun.

"Ray is a good friend of mine. I'm going to have fun with it and I'm pretty sure he will get at me somewhere down the road."

Lewis, who laid one hit on Owens among his nine tackles, was not particularly amused.

"I didn't see it, not at all," said Lewis, who had to have escaped Lincoln Financial Field unnoticed for 10 minutes to have missed the replays on both the stadium's Jumbotrons. "If you're going to play a football game, don't be a coward and wait until you make one play and do something. Just play football.

"His celebration doesn't mean anything. What's flattering is that he has me on his mind when he's at home. If there's anything more flattering -- he made one or two plays and one missed tackle here and one missed tackled there. You have to tip your hat to that, he made a play."

Owens made several on the critical possession, which started when Hollis Thomas recovered Chester Taylor's fumble at Philly's 35-yard line. Owens, held to two catches and 19 yards in the first half, caught three for 40 on the nine-play, 65-yard drive.

"I wasn't involved in the first half, so I guess they tried to get me involved in the second half," Owens said. "We had some opportunities that we missed early. It very well could have been the opposite. I could have had a great first half, but we missed opportunities. I stayed patient. That was probably the best thing that came out of this game for me, was to stay patient. There were times I probably could have gotten frustrated, but I knew the opportunities were going to come. I just had to stay with it."

Said Eagles coach Andy Reid, "He's a great player who stepped up when we needed him."

For those, like Fuller, who believe Owens needs to chill with the hot-dogging (he did a little eagle, "wing-flapping" dance after just about all his catches), there's really only one way to make him.

"When I go out there and make plays, if I score, everyone knows I'm going to try to do something exciting," said Owens, who was initially traded to the Ravens in the offseason before the deal was rescinded. "A lot of people don't like it. I think Shannon Sharpe said it best: 'If you don't like what I do, stop me from getting in the end zone.' I pride myself. I know guys are going to try to double-team me. I know defenses are going to try to stop me. But if I'm on top of my game, it's going to be hard to do that."

In the meantime, Owens will keep doing his thing -- whatever it is for that week. He deserves to dance.

Michael Smith is a senior writer for ESPN.com.