ARLINGTON, Texas - DeSean Jackson stopped, turned, extended his arms and fell backward into Eagles-Cowboys lore forever.

Eleven months later, Jackson finally did "sting" the Cowboys' backsides.

The wiry little wide receiver is a perplexing combination, as infuriating as he is exhilarating. That Twitter boast last year was just one example. If he wore a different uniform, Philadelphia fans would despise his brashness and his petulance. But all is forgiven when No. 10 gathers in a short pass, as he did in the fourth quarter of a tie game Sunday night, and turns the corner.

There aren't many players in football who can change a game all by himself like that. Brian Westbrook used to be able to do it. Michael Vick certainly has shown that he can do it. But Jackson turning that corner was as breathtaking as anything you've seen in this improbable season.

It is worth savoring the play, at least up until the moment Jackson drew a mustache on it with his antics at the end.

The Eagles were not having a good time. Vick had taken another beating and it was beginning to show in his play. Jon Kitna, of all people, was in the process of taking the Eagles' secondary apart. This Enormo-Dome of a stadium was starting to feel cursed as far as the Eagles were concerned.

They were at their 9-yard line after yet another special-teams penalty. Jackson was split out to the left. Vick took the snap and fired a quick out. Cornerback Mike Jenkins gambled. He lost. The ball sailed just beyond the reach of his diving hand.

Jackson caught it and turned. He danced a few steps along the sideline, very nearly stepping on the white paint, then engaged that higher gear. Everyone in the stadium knew instantly that he was gone.

It was a great play by a great player. And then Jackson turned it into a bit of farce. He looked back, saw that safety Terence Newman wasn't close enough to be a threat, and did his little fall into the end zone.

It was stupid. Andy Reid made sure to let Jackson know that after he collapsed on the sideline and hit the oxygen tank.

At least Jackson carried the ball into the end zone with him this time. NBC was quick to dig out his rookie-year lowlight, dropping a ball just before he crossed the goal line in the old Texas Stadium.

Things are never dull with this guy. A couple of weeks ago, Jackson drew a lot of unwanted attention to himself. After that loss in Chicago, he made a show of being upset in the locker room and word eventually got out that Reid had chewed him out in front of the entire team.

Since being knocked out of a game with a concussion earlier this year, Jackson has been playing with a little less abandon. That's entirely understandable, but it's a tough way to get through an NFL season.

Running through all of this, of course, is the fact that Jackson is due for an enormous new contract. He'd already have one if not for the looming NFL labor problems, which make it hard for the Eagles and other teams to do that kind of business.

Just when he seems to be a lot of bother, though, Jackson does something to remind you that he's more than worth it.

He opened that blowout in Washington with a first-play touchdown strike from Vick. Sunday night, in a near replay, Vick rolled to his left and fired a pass to the streaking Jackson. That 60-yard strike set up the Eagles' first-quarter touchdown - a big one, since it established that they weren't going to be pushed around here as they were last year.

Jackson also set up the Eagles' second TD. Inexplicably uncovered, he caught a ball in the left flat and sprinted toward the far corner. He got knocked out of bounds at the 2 after a 37-yard gain.

It was a strange game for Jackson. At one point, trainers were working on him. He ran around on the sideline, trying to get loose, then returned to the medical staff.

Meanwhile, Vick was throwing to Chad Hall and Riley Cooper and getting pounded into the turf by Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. Not coincidentally, the Cowboys scored 13 points to take a 20-14 lead.

With a showdown against the Giants next Sunday, the Eagles could not afford to let this game get away from them. They just couldn't.

Thanks to Jackson, they didn't.

He caught that short pass and got to the corner and that was that. Jackson turned nothing into one of the biggest plays of the season. It was a beautiful thing, right up until the end.

Follow columnist Phil Sheridan
on Twitter: @SheridanScribe.