Eagles' Jackson turns it up a notch

Posted Dec. 20, 2010 @ 11:25 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

What in the name of Joe Pisarcik were the Giants doing, punting to DeSean Jackson at the end of the game Sunday?

Say what you will about the sometimes petulant and immature Jackson, but he's the most lethal open-field threat in the NFL.

Of course, it could be Michael Vick ... or LeSean McCoy. The reason you have to keep the Eagles in the Super Bowl mix is because of this electric trio, any of whom can ignite at any moment.

You'll see replays of Jackson's 65-yard punt-return TD umpteen times this week, and for good reason. It was one of the more ridiculous endings imaginable to an absolutely insane fourth quarter.

The Giants had it all going. After Andy Reid failed to challenge Jackson's fumble after a 30-yard gain (replays seemed to show he was down by contact before fumbling), the Giants led 31-10 with 8:17 remaining. It appeared even these magicians couldn't make that deficit disappear.

But Vick and Jackson delivered at the end. It's becoming their trademark.

We have come to expect these mind-bending plays out of Vick, who has gone from despised human being to a walking reclamation project. And it's apparently rubbing off on Jackson, who hasn't committed any Vick-esque sins but certainly needed to prove to his teammates that he can be accountable.

Let's go back to the loss to the Bears in Week 12. Jackson was held silent with only two catches for 22 yards, with his biggest noise coming in the pregame when he refused to catch punts in the windy conditions and took a lackadaisical approach to his preparation.

Reid seethed. Even some of Jackson's teammates were bothered. Reid ripped into Jackson, among other Eagles players, in a postgame rant that team sources say was about as vicious as Reid gets.

There was Jackson after the game, sitting in front of his locker, face buried in his hands. Teammates came over, one by one, to console him: First Vick, then McCoy, followed by Jeremy Maclin. Jackson looked deeply upset, perhaps a flashpoint in the young receiver's career.

Since then, all he has done has been to finish off the Texans with a 33-yard catch that set up a score, collect 210 yards that included an incendiary 91-yard score on a bad foot against the Cowboys and stun the Giants with his game-ending punt return at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

We've also learned to deal with Jackson's flair for the idiotic, too, such as his TD celebration in Dallas and his parallel-to-the-endzone delayed TD vs. the Giants.

Reid might raise questions almost every week with his game-management skills — his failure to challenge the Jackson fumble could have cost the Eagles the game — but he knows how to get the most from his players and get them on track.

First Vick, now Jackson. There might be no stopping the Rehabilitation Institute of Philadelphia if these guys stay on the straight and narrow.

What exactly did the Eagles accomplish against the Giants? Twenty eight points in the final eight minutes. It's almost impossible to wrap your head around.

But that's what this Eagles team has done all season, beating teams with a dash of the unbelievable and a dose of the unforgettable. As long as Jackson can stay in line with his team's goals, they'll live with his occasional pinch of the absurd.