Philadelphia Eagles complete miracle comeback at Meadowlands to beat New York Giants, 38-31
Sunday, December 19, 2010; 9:02 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Philadelphia Eagles all but wrapped up the NFC East title here Sunday with a finish that was practically as inexplicable as it was memorable. They scored four touchdowns in the game's final 71/2 minutes, the last of them on a punt return by DeSean Jackson as time expired, to overcome a 21-point deficit and beat the New York Giants, 38-31, at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"Honestly," Jackson said when the crazy day finally was done, "I really didn't think it was going to be possible."
It wasn't always elegant, and it was filled with as many blunders as dynamic plays. But this was a game as dramatic as they come, with Eagles quarterback Michael Vick adding to his ever-more-remarkable career revival and the Giants wondering not only how they squandered a 31-10 lead but also why rookie punter Matt Dodge gave Jackson a chance to win the game instead of kicking the ball out of bounds.
"I've never been around anything like this in my life," Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's about as empty as you get to feel in this business right there."
The Eagles won their third straight game and improved to 10-4, moving them a game ahead of the Giants (9-5) atop the division. They also hold the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of beating the Giants twice this season. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East crown by winning either of their final two games. They play the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys, both at home.
"I believe in myself," said Vick, who passed for three touchdowns and ran for another. "I believe in my teammates. I believe in the guys around me. . . . We were able to make plays when we needed to."
The biggest play of all came when the Giants, after quarterback Eli Manning was sacked on a third-down play, were forced to punt with 14 seconds left in regulation and the game seemingly headed to overtime. Jackson, bothered by a sprained foot, had been asked by Eagles Coach Andy Reid before the game if he could return punts in certain crucial situations, and had told Reid that he could do so.
"I was just sitting back there thinking to myself, 'They're really not going to kick it to me,' " Jackson said. "I thought they were going to kick it out of bounds."
But Dodge, after fielding a high snap, sent a low punt to Jackson in the middle of the field.
"When he kicked it and I saw the low trajectory of the kick, I said, 'Why would you kick it to DeSean?' " Vick said.
Jackson dropped the ball initially but picked it up, then backpedaled before accelerating forward through the Giants' initial wave of would-be tacklers. He eluded Dodge and sprinted down the right sideline, getting a crunching block by fellow wide receiver Jason Avant before running parallel to the goal line - in part to savor the moment and in part to make certain all the time had run off the clock, Jackson said - before going into the end zone for the 65-yard touchdown.