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Sunday, December 19, 2010
Eagles take flight late, shock Giants


DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return for a touchdown on the final play of the game completed an epic comeback for the Philadelphia Eagles, as the team overcame a 21-point deficit over the final 8:17 of the fourth quarter. While Jackson’s play alone would have been a poignant moment on which to end a game, the ramifications reach far beyond just this one game.

It was the Eagles' sixth straight win against the New York Giants, including the playoffs, and it was possible thanks to the former scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter. Not only was it the most points in the fourth quarter in franchise history, the Eagles also became the first team to score 28 points in the final eight minutes to win a game since 1960, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. In addition, Elias can confirm that it’s only the ninth time in NFL history a team has trailed by 21 or more points in the fourth quarter and come back to win.

In addition, Jackson’s decisive punt return to end it was the longest game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation since 1960. The last time there was a punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter that was a go-ahead score and was the final scoring play of the game was on October 16, 2006, when Devin Hester had an 83-yard return for a 24-23 win for the Chicago Bears over the Arizona Cardinals. The last time the Eagles had a punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter that was a go-ahead score was on October 19, 2003, when Brian Westbrook broke off an 84-yard return that erased a 10-7 deficit en route to a 14-10 win at the Giants.

Speaking of Giants collapses, they lost despite leading 24-3 at halftime, the third time in the last 70 years that the Giants lose a game after leading by 21 or more points at half. Eli Manning tied a career high with 4 Pass TD, his fifth career 4-Pass TD game, certainly helping to open the floodgates for the Eagles.

However, as with most of the Eagles wins this season, the comeback was less about Jackson or the Giants and more about potential MVP candidate Michael Vick. The Giants defense used five or more defensive backs on 54 of the 59 snaps the Eagles had on Sunday, and for three quarters Vick under control. However, in the fourth quarter Vick dominated the Giants defense, improving on both his 99.5 passer rating (2nd in NFL) and his 483 rushing yards (1st among QB) entering the game against five or more defensive backs.

While the comeback was historic and the game thoroughly entertaining, what does it all mean? With the win, the Eagles can clinch the NFC East with a win in either of their last two games. It also made the road significantly more difficult for the Giants, who now need to win out and have the Eagles lose out to win the division, largely because the Eagles own the head-to-head in the event the two finish tied. Needless to say, the comeback had significant relevance to both this season and the annals of the game.

In other NFL news today...

• In his first start since 2008, Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman recorded his first game of four touchdowns since Sept. 17, 2006.

• Kansas City Chiefs running back Thomas Jones became the 25th player to record 10,000 rushing yards in a career in the Chiefs' win over the St. Louis Rams.

• Ray Rice's 233 yards from scrimmage marked the third-most scrimmage yards in a game in Baltimore Ravens franchise history.

• And, for the first time since Week 8 of the 2007 season, the Detroit Lions won a game on the road, snapping their NFL-record 26-game road losing streak with a 23-20 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.