Jackson scored on 72-yard punt return
and a 60-yard pass from Donovan McNabb, sparking the Eagles to their
most points this season in a 45-38 shootout victory Sunday night over
the New York Giants.
The second-year wide receiver missed
last week with a concussion, but was in sensational form in boosting
Philadelphia (9-4) into the NFC East lead.
"That sounds good right now, but we have to take care of business," McNabb said.
Jackson has eight touchdowns of 50-plus yards this year, tying the NFL mark.
"I said I was going to come back strong," Jackson said. "I told the team I was going to come back strong."
New York (7-6) also had its share of
big plays, including TD passes of 68 and 61 yards by Eli Manning in a
game marked by shoddy tackling on both sides. But the Eagles, whose
previous high in 2009 was 40 points in a Nov. 1 rout of New York,
prevailed despite being outgained 512-374.
With Dallas (8-5) losing to San
Diego, Philly is looking back at the rest of the division. Just as
Jackson did to the Giants when he caught a long pass and boogied
backward into the end zone late in the third period for a 37-31 lead.
A 91-yard drive capped by Leonard
Weaver's 1-yard run — yes, the Eagles can score short ones, too —
clinched Philly's fourth straight victory over New York, including a
divisional round playoff game in January.
The Giants made it tight when Kevin
Boss caught a 4-yard TD pass with 1:31 to go. But they couldn't stage a
final comeback and Eagles coach Andy Reid won his first game after
receiving a contract extension through 2013.
The Giants were primed to take the
lead midway in the third quarter when McNabb's pass was intercepted by
Jonathan Goff. From the Philadelphia 29, Manning scrambled left for a
first down, slid headfirst and lost the ball, recovered by Sean Jones.
New York challenged that Brodrick Buntley caused Manning to stumble
when he tugged his jersey before the quarterback took two more strides
before going down, but the call was confirmed by video review.
They did go in front 31-30, though,
when Domenik Hixon, who returned a punt 79 yards in last week's win
over Dallas, broke two tackles for a 61-yard catch-and-run score.
McNabb and Jackson simply shrugged and, one play later, combined for
the 60-yard TD.
Jackson tied the long-TD mark set by Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch in 1951 and Devin Hester (2007).
Michael Vick got into the act, too,
hitting Jackson down the middle for 32 yards to set up McNabb's 8-yard
TD pass to Brent Celek that opened the scoring.
Four plays later, it was 14-0 as
Trent Cole stripped the ball from behind Brandon Jacobs and it bounced
fortuitously to Sheldon Brown, who scooted 60 yards without a Giant in
While Philly was striking quickly,
the Giants' first scoring drive covered 77 yards, 15 plays and more
than seven minutes. It netted Lawrence Tynes' 26-yard field goal.
Then, safety Quintin Mikell almost
single-handedly gave New York a touchdown. Twice he was called for
illegal contact on Hakeem Nicks, including one ball the rookie dropped
while open behind everyone. Then, he and Asante Samuel missed tackles
on a short pass that Nicks turned into a 68-yard score, sprinting the
final 57 yards after the defensive backs couldn't wrap up Nicks.
Vick made a key 5-yard run on third
down on Philadelphia's next scoring drive, and he should have had a TD
pass. But Reggie Brown dropped the ball in the end zone, and David
Akers kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead.
Then came Jackson's scintillating dash on the punt run-back, setting a franchise record with his third such return for a TD.
But the teams were only getting
started scoring. Ahmad Bradshaw's 3-yard run lifted the Giants within
24-17, then New York was victimized by Jackson again. He got free for a
44-yard reception on third-and-20. Celek's 23-yard reception — New York
struggles covering tight ends, too — set up Vick's 1-yard sweep into
the end zone for a 30-17 halftime edge.
Jacobs' 1-yard run got the Giants closer, and Hixon's romp gave them the short-lived lead.