x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

In one of greatest plays, Jackson's run kills Giants

With his breathtaking 65-yard punt return for the winning touchdown on the final play, the Eagles scored 28 points in the final seven minutes to beat the Giants 38-31.

DeSean Jackson scores a touchdown on a brilliant punt return to beat the Giants.
DeSean Jackson scores a touchdown on a brilliant punt return to beat the Giants.

With 13 seconds left, DeSean Jackson never thought he would get a chance to win the game. Matt Dodge, the New York Giants punter, was ordered by Tom Coughlin, his coach, to punt away from Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles' elusive return man.

But the rookie kicker, flustered by a high snap, punted straight to Jackson, who fumbled, picked up the ball and took off on one of the greatest plays in NFL history - a breathtaking 65-yard punt return for the winning touchdown on the final play of the game.

The Eagles scored 28 points in the final seven minutes and 18 seconds and beat the Giants 38-31 on Sunday, a bitter loss that revived memories of another last-second loss 32 years ago.

"I was thinking to myself like 'They're not going to kick it to me,'" Jackson said. "I was thinking he was going to kick it out of bounds. But it got to me. From there, I just used my instincts and my speed to get into the end zone."

The electrifying finish left the Eagles (10-4) alone in first place in the NFC East, one game ahead of the Giants (9-5).

And it took the play of the season to make it happen.

"I've never been around anything like this in my life," Coughlin said. "It's about as empty as you get to feel in this business, right there."

The stunning turn of events brought back memories of the 1978 game between the same teams. Joe Pisarcik, the Giants quarterback, fumbled at the end of the game, allowing the Eagles' Herm Edwards to scoop up the loose ball and run in for the winning points.

This time, the showstopper was Jackson.

Coughlin tossed the papers in his hand to the ground and confronted Dodge after the play, clearly agitated.

"I'll take full responsibility for the last play," Coughlin said. "With him [Jackson] back there, you don't punt the ball to him."

But they did, and the play will go down in NFL lore as the only game-winning punt return on the final play from scrimmage.

Edwards, now an NFL analyst with ESPN, said he knows Jackson, and that the two will be "linked together". When he saw Jackson hit the crease "I said to myself 'Are you kidding me? Is this about to happen? Same two teams, same result?' Unbelievable."

The play unfolded when Zak DeOssie delivered a high snap, and Dodge was unable to do as instructed - kick the ball out of bounds. Even after Jackson fumbled the line-drive punt, the Giants were unable to tackle him.

"I was definitely looking out of bounds the whole way," Dodge said. "I got the snap and tried to get it off quick. Not a good time to hit a line drive, that's for sure.

"You can't give the most explosive returner in the game a line drive in a situation like that."

The fumble gave Jackson's blockers time to create a seam, allowing him to run up the middle. At midfield, DeOssie had a chance to make up for his bad snap, but Jason Avant, the Eagles receiver, laid him out with a textbook block.

"When [he] first kicked, and I saw the low trajectory on the kick, I was saying to myself, 'Why would he kick it to DeSean?'" Michael Vick, the Eagles quarterback, said. "It was all the way home from there."

Once DeOssie was blocked, it was over. Jackson bolted toward the end zone.

When it was over, the Giants and their fans were in shock, and the Eagles are now in position for a probable division title.

"By far, this is one of the greatest comebacks of my career, being down by such a huge deficit," said Vick, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. "We were able to come back in a short period of time. It's outstanding."

Vick threw for 242 yards and ran for a game-high 130 in the win, which gave the Eagles a sweep of the season series with New York.

They need to either win one of their final two home games [Minnesota or Dallas] or have New York lose one of their two away games [Green Bay or Washington] to capture the division.

The Giants dominated the opening half. Vick was under constant pressure, sacked twice and limited to six completions for 33 yards. He also threw his fifth interception of the season.

Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback, threw four touchdown passes, two to Mario Manningham and one to Hakeen Nicks and Kevin Boss. But it was all for nothing in the loss, which clinched a play-off spot for Atlanta (12-2).

"I like to do things for excitement," Jackson said of his outlandish celebration. "That's what the fans and all the crowd pay for. So I like to bring that out."