ARLINGTON, Texas - DeSean Jackson spent the last week playfully debating Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy over who is the fastest Eagle. That question remains unresolved, but Jackson at least showed he is faster than anyone on the Cowboys' defense.
All the evidence needed came on Jackson's scintillating 91-yard fourth quarter touchdown Sunday night, punctuated by a stylish - but penalized - celebration that put his team ahead and swung a game that was in danger of slipping away from the Eagles.
The touchdown was the longest score of a career marked by big plays, and contributed to a 216-yard night. Jackson, held in check here last season, returned with a vengeance. He had 210 receiving yards and 6 yards rushing, the third-most total yards in Eagles history. On a night when the Eagles once had to throw to guard Todd Herremans to get into the end zone, they needed every step of Jackson's speed in a 30-27 victory.
The rest of the offense was slow to get involved. Michael Vick was hammered and had his first multiple-turnover game in nearly four years. Jackson led the Eagles' offensive attack, opening the game with a 60-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage and setting up the Eagles' second touchdown with a 37-yard catch and sprint.
With the defense providing its typical up-and-down performance - producing a key turnover but allowing 27 points - it was another ugly night in Texas for Andy Reid's crew. But in the end it was ugly the 9-4 Eagles could live with, at least for now.
Returning to the place where the Cowboys had destroyed Philadelphia's 2009 season, the Eagles won a slugfest.
The Eagles had been hit hard and kept in check for most of the game Sunday in their third visit to Cowboys Stadium, right until Jackson turned a short pass into a score.
Dimitri Patterson picked off Jon Kitna on the Cowboys' next play from scrimmage and the Eagles got the points that gave them an important division win and at least a share of first place in the NFC East heading into a critical showdown Sunday with the New York Giants.
Late in the third quarter, it looked as if there might be another Eagles disappointment in Dallas. The evident flaws that contributed to a Cowboys rally - an inconsistent defense, leaky pass protection - are causes for concern.
The Cowboys were the fourth consecutive team to test Vick's tolerance for abuse. DeMarcus Ware blasted him from behind. Anthony Spencer smacked him to the ground on a play near the sideline that Andy Reid thought should have drawn a penalty. With the Eagles driving for a potential go-ahead score in the third, cornerback Orlando Scandrick blitzed in untouched and hammered Vick, forcing a field goal that pulled the Eagles to within three, 20-17, but prevented a try for a go-ahead touchdown. Vick was sacked twice, but he was hit many more times.
But the Eagles found a way to win a tough game.
On the game-swinging fourth-quarter score, cornerback Mike Jenkins foolishly went for the ball, leaving Jackson to make one cut around a final defender and simply outrun everyone else. He needed oxygen after the run, but had enough energy to draw an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty with a swaggering pose and elegant splash into the Cowboys' deep blue end zone.
Until the fourth quarter, the two defenses controlled much of the play. Both teams got after the opposing quarterback.
Vick was pressured on an interception late in the second quarter that the Cowboys converted into a field goal, allowing them to pull within 14-10 at the half. Two Eagles offensive plays later, on their first drive of the third quarter, Vick threw another interception, although this one bounced off Jeremy Maclin's hands.
Dallas went into the end zone three plays later, taking a 20-14 lead.
It was Vick's first-multiple turnover game of the year, and his first two-interception day since Dec. 12, 2006, when, as a Falcon, he lost to Carolina. Vick had no turnovers through the first nine weeks of the season, but has five in the last four games. He has been intercepted in each of the last three games and lost a fumble against the Giants four weeks ago.
The Eagles lost their defensive signal-caller, middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, to a dislocated right elbow early in the second quarter. With veteran backup Omar Gaither inactive, Bradley was replaced by rookie Jamar Chaney, who had played almost entirely on special teams.
Running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles' most consistent threat, was slow for much of the game but pounded out key late first downs, finishing with a career-high 149 yards rushing.
The Eagles looked potent at the start, using the game's opening moments to show their intent to make this visit much different from their last two trips to Texas. On the first play from scrimmage, Vick rolled out on a bootleg and hit a streaking Jackson for 60 yards. The play sparked a touchdown drive that was also marked by a rugged up-the-gut fourth-down conversion that helped the Eagles to a 7-0 lead.
But Dallas came right back, tying the game on their first drive. Their possession was kept alive by a Dimitri Patterson face-mask call that gave the Cowboys a first down after a third-down incompletion.