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After all the hype, an anticlimactic return for T.O.

PHILADELPHIA -- All the relentless boos, vicious scorn and hard objects that the Philadelphia diehards pledged to hurl at Terrell Owens were a virtual no-show.

Then again, so was T.O.

For all the bluster on both sides, it was another stellar Donovan McNabb outing in Philadelphia's 38-24 win over the Cowboys on Sunday that really riled the Philly faithful.

It also turned their attentions away from No. 81.

"Honestly, I felt at home," Owens said.

Losing to his former team was bad enough for Owens. Watching McNabb, whom he famously feuded with last season, throw two touchdown passes was enough to make Owens want to take a long escape into his hyperbaric chamber.

Owens finished with very un-T.O. like numbers: three catches, 45 yards.

No impact. No chance to stomp on the Eagles logo at midfield. He was the first one running down the visitor's tunnel once the game ended.

Oddly enough, Owens was even cheered by Eagles fans one more time, only it had nothing to do with touchdowns and outlandish celebrations. All he did was drop a routine pass.

When he failed to grab a light pass from Drew Bledsoe late in the third quarter, the docile Eagles crowd erupted -- like they used to when he held onto them in a green and white uniform. Owens jogged to the sideline where he was consoled by some Dallas teammates and took a seat on the bench.

Owens' first catch didn't come until the third quarter on Dallas' 41st offensive play. He turned a short pass into a 9-yard gain, looked toward the Eagles' sideline and spun the ball on the ground in their direction while gesturing on his way back to the huddle.

"Honestly, I felt at home."
-- Terrell Owens

Thousands of fans were still at the concession stands and some subdued boos lasted less than 10 seconds.

"Actually, I thought it was going to be worse," Owens said. "I really did."

Judging by the way fans were talking before the game -- and the week leading up to it -- who wouldn't?

"I have a feeling it's going to be as rough as it's ever been," said tailgating fan Terry Bieler. "After all, it's Philly."

When the Eagles offense -- specifically McNabb -- was introduced to raucous cheers before the game, Owens tossed the ball around near midfield and showed no emotion.

The Eagles lost a fumble on the second play and the crowd erupted in boos when the Cowboys had the ball. Nothing new there. Owens was used mostly as a decoy, and the fans started only a brief derogatory chant on the second series that quickly died out.

The first pass Bledsoe threw for him was a deep ball down the visitor's sideline that was intercepted by Brian Dawkins late in the first quarter. When Bledsoe's underthrown pass late in the fourth was picked off by Lito Sheppard, Owens slapped his helmet and stewed and paced on the sideline.

It would have been easier to find fit fans grilling veggie burgers and drinking non-alcoholic beer than an Owens supporter in the packed parking lots. Finally, one brave fan was spotted wearing a clean Eagles' Owens jersey. No tape. No scribbled profanity.

Did he feel any worry about wearing that in this ferocious lot?

"It's getting burned!" the fan said, pulling it up to reveal a Brian Westbrook jersey underneath.

Some fans did light fire to their Owens jerseys. Another hot item? Shirts that read both "Got Pills?" and "T.O. O.D. O.D. O.D. O.D."

The "O.D.!" chants were both a reference to his accidental overdose, and a play off the "T.O!" chant he used to hear -- when the Philly fanatics were still on his side -- after every clutch play, all sung to the tune of the popular soccer song, "Ole! Ole! Ole!"

But only briefly did fans sing "O.D." once the win was secured. No one tossed any objects on the field and the rowdy crowd was well behaved.

Of course, Philly fans are relentless in their jeering, once throwing batteries in anger at St. Louis outfielder J.D. Drew because he didn't sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997. In the most infamous case, Santa Claus was booed and pelted with snowballs during a game between the Eagles and Minnesota in 1968.

A beautiful, sunny 70 degree kickoff took away one Philly fan weapon: There was no chance of Owens being pelted by snowballs.