By FRANK WARD
“This place is in a state of shock.” — Merrill Reese after Brian Westbrook stunned the Giants with a game-winning punt return.
You may have just replayed that call today as DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards to paydirt to cap an incredible 38-31 comeback win over the New York Giants on Sunday. The win gives the Eagles control of the NFC East and keeps them in the hunt for a first-round bye.
Trailing 31-10 early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles seemed to be on life support. Then, Michael Vick put the team on his back.
Vick bulled his way past defenders an into the open field for 130 yards and a TD on the ground, and 242 yards and three TDs through the air.
The comeback started with a 65-yard TD strike to Brent Celek, who had a number of penalties before putting himself in a position to go from goat to part-hero. David Akers then nailed an onside kick that rookie Riley Cooper recovered.
Michael Vick followed with a four-yard scramble. On the next offensive series, Vick then led a quick-strike drive that ended in a game-tying Jeremy Maclin TD, his second of the day.
Then, DeSean Jackson fielded a punt with seconds remaining that he muffed, then picked up and flew to the end zone.
Of course, the comeback almost didn’t happen. DeSean Jackson had a 30-yard reception early in the fourth that put him over 1,000 yards for the season. He then was pushed to the ground and fumbled upon hitting the ground. The play was ruled a fumble, but would have been overruled if reviewed. Reid, however, didn’t throw the challenge flag. That led to a Kevin boss touchdown pass from Manning that gave the Giants a 31-10 lead, and what seemed like a win.
Prior to the Eagles exploding for 28 fourth-quarter points, the Giants controlled the game. Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham for two first quarter touchdowns, and Hakeem Nicks for a second quarter score to put the Giants up, 24-3, at the half.
The Eagles now sit at 10-4 and in first place in the NFC East. The Giants fall to 9-5 and in a battle for their playoff lives with the Packers on the schedule next week.