ARLINGTON, Texas - The Cowboys beat the Eagles three straight times last season. In each of those games, the Eagles' most dangerous offensive player was nowhere to be found.
In those three ugly losses, including a 34-14 trouncing in the first round of the playoffs, the Cowboys held Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a total of seven catches for 79 yards.
He had just 14 receiving yards in that playoff loss, which followed his memorable "sting they ass" tweet the week before the game.
But the 5-9 wide receiver got redemption last night, and he got it in a big way.
Jackson caught just four passes in the Eagles' 30-27 win over the Cowboys. But he used them to amass a career-high 210 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The touchdown came on a 91-yard, fourth-quarter catch-and-run that broke a 20-20 tie and sent the Eagles on their way to their ninth win in 13 games.
"I'm happy for the kid," said quarterback Michael Vick. "He challenged me the whole game. He demanded the football."
Jackson turned a simple 10-yard sideline hitch route into a game-turning score when he eluded cornerback Mike Jenkins and took it all the way to the end zone.
"That long one he scored on was just him making a play," coach Andy Reid said. "It was a hitch route. They were in man coverage. Michael hit him right on time and he caught it and took it upfield."
Jackson finished the big play with some theatrics. After outrunning the last defender, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, Jackson stopped just short of the goal line, turned around and extended his arm and the ball across the line, then took a
Nestea plunge. He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I liked the 91 [-yard play], but I could've done without [the taunting]," Reid said. "That's a little bit of the Hollywood in him."
Scandrick very nearly caught Jackson from behind on the play, which was a little surprising considering that the Pro Bowl wideout is considerably faster than Scandrick. But Jackson said he hurt his right foot on a third-quarter punt return.
"I didn't think I was going to make it [to the end zone]," he said.
Yardagewise, it was the third-best receiving day in Eagles history, surpassed only by Tommy McDonald's 237 receiving yards on Dec. 10, 1961, and Kevin Curtis' 221 yards, against the Detroit Lions, on Sept. 23, 2007.
It was Jackson's fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season and the 11th of his career. He became just the third receiver in history to register 200-plus receiving yards with four or fewer catches.
The Eagles needed every one of those 210 yards. No other Eagles receiver had more than three catches last night, and no other receiver had more than 18 receiving yards.
"We needed a play at that time and he came up big," wide receiver Jason Avant said of Jackson's 91-yard scoring play. "It was huge. Not just for him, but for the whole team."
Jackson insisted his lack of production in the three losses to the Cowboys last year wasn't really something he thought much about going into this game.
"It was a blessing and an honor to get the bad taste out of our mouths [from last year]," he said. "I'm very confident in my play and what I'm able to do. I don't get caught up in numbers."
He was a little less humble later on when he tweeted fans.
"Big time players step up in big time moments," he tweeted. "And I wasn't even 100%. Ima . . . warrior."
Jackson wasted little time making his mark on the game, catching a 60-yard pass from Vick on the Eagles' first offensive play. It gave the Eagles a first down at the Dallas 13-yard line. Five plays later, Vick scored on a 1-yard run to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
It was the seventh time in 13 games that the Eagles have scored a touchdown on their first possession.
Jackson had a 37-yard catch-and-run down to the 2-yard line in the second quarter that set up the Eagles' second touchdown.
Then, the 91-yard stake in the Cowboys' heart in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 20.
"When he first caught it, I knew he was going to do something with it," said Vick, who took an all-night licking from the Cowboys, but still completed 61.5 percent of his passes and averaged 10.4 yards per attempt, thanks mainly to Jackson and his 52.5 yards-per-catch average.
"I put it in a perfect place for him."
On the game-opening 60-yard play to Jackson, Vick said: "It was something we planned for. We got the [man] coverage we wanted and he ran a great route. It doesn't happen a lot. When it does, you've got to take advantage of it. It set the tone for the game."
To Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for not using more max-protection to keep Mike Vick safe and give him time to throw. They went with more four-wide-receiver sets than they have all season, and too often were blocking DeMarcus Ware with fullback Owen Schmitt and one of the tight ends. They went with a four-wide-receiver, one-back set on a third-and-4 at the Dallas 15 in the third quarter. The Cowboys came with a corner blitz on the play and Orlando Scandrick decked Vick for a 6-yard loss and force the Eagles to settle for a field goal.
-- Even though Riley Cooper was active after missing the last game with a knee injury, Chad Hall also was activated. It was the first time since Hank Baskett was released in September that the Eagles have dressed five wide receivers, though Hall also can be classified as a running back. In which case, it was the first time all season they've dressed five running backs (including fullback Owen Schmitt).
-- The reason for the Eagles dressing five wideouts became clear on their first possession when they went with a four-wide receiver set on two of their first four plays. They later also used a four-wide receiver, one-back set with Hall as the lone back near the goal line.
-- Tight end Brent Celek lined up in the backfield on Mike Vick's 1-yard touchdown run, led him through the hole and took out linebacker Bradie James.
-- The Cowboys wasted little time seeing if the Eagles had gotten any better at dealing with screens. On their third play, they threw a screen to the left side to running back Felix Jones. It gained just 3 yards. They ran another screen on their third possession that gained just 4 yards.
-- Jason Witten's 1-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was the eighth TD reception to a tight end that the Eagles have allowed this season.
-- On a third-and-8 on their second possession, the Eagles used a two-tight-end set with both Celek and Clay Harbor lined up on the left side to block DeMarcus Ware. Ware beat them both and forced Vick to abandon ship. He gained just 1 yard and the Eagles had to punt.
-- How badly fullback Schmitt got manhandled by Ware when he tried to block the linebacker on the Eagles' third possession. Ware got a blindside shot at Vick, one of the many vicious hits Vick took.
-- The missed tackle by rookie Trevard Lindley on wide receiver Kevin Ogletree that gave the Cowboys a first down on a third-and-9 late in the first half. Jon Kitna ended up completing another pass to Ogletree on the drive that got the Cowboys close enough for a 50-yard field goal.
-- The Eagles are 52-2 under Andy Reid when they've scored 30 points or more, including 5-0 this season.
-- The Eagles have played five prime-time games this season and have won them all. They've won 10 of their last 12 prime-time games. Before that, they had lost 14 of 16.
-- The Eagles are 73-17 under Reid when they score first.
-- The Eagles have scored 97 points in the first quarter in their nine wins and just six points in the first quarter of their four losses.
-- The Eagles again scored on their first possession yesterday. They've now scored on their first possession in seven of their 13 games this season. Their first-possession numbers through 13 games: 71 plays, 575 yards, 8.1 yards per play, 21 first downs, seven touchdowns.
-- The Eagles have 12 touchdowns and four field goals on their first and second possessions this season. That's 16 scoring drives in 26 possessions. The numbers from those 26 possessions: 139 plays, 1,051 yards, 7.6 yards per play and 47 first downs.
-- Mike Vick notched his seventh rushing touchdown of the season in the first quarter. He's one shy of his career high of eight in 2002 in his second year with the Falcons.
-- Vick threw two interceptions against the Cowboys. It was his first multiple-interception game since Dec. 24, 2006, when he threw two in a loss to Carolina when he was with the Falcons.
-- Vick finished with a 90.2 passer rating. He's had a 90-plus passer rating in nine of the 10 games he's played in this season.
-- The Eagles have held just four of their 13 opponents to 17 points or less this season. The fewest 17-points-or-less games by the defense in a season in the Andy Reid era: five in '99 and six in '05.
-- In the last nine games, the Eagles have held opponents to 4.2 yards per carry in the first quarter (56-235). In their first four games, they allowed 6.1 yards per carry (33-201).
-- The Eagles' defense has given up 20 touchdowns in 24 goal-to-go situations this season.