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Inside the Eagles: Brent Celek has a career day catching the ball for the Eagles

It's not going to make for a good argument if the Eagles and DeSean Jackson ever hold contract extension talks, but the wide receiver could point to Brent Celek's resurgence this season for proof of his worth.

(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

It's not going to make for a good argument if the Eagles and DeSean Jackson ever hold contract extension talks, but the wide receiver could point to Brent Celek's resurgence this season for proof of his worth.

Jackson's loss has been Celek's gain.

The tight end had a career day as the Eagles held on to dear playoff life and trounced the New York Jets, 45-19, on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Jackson not so much.

The pregame storyline on Jackson was that he needed to put on a show against the Jets' all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis with his future in Philadelphia in great doubt.

But the Eagles' goal at this point isn't to pad Jackson's stats. They have games to win and if they could exploit the middle of the field with Revis on Jackson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Jeremy Maclin, they were going to do so.

"There were a few times they even put Cromartie on the inside, but we knew there were going to be some man-to-man opportunities and we were just going to have to take advantage of them," Celek said.

So Jackson, who missed a chunk of the game with an injured elbow, and Maclin finished with a combined five catches for 85 yards. Meanwhile, Celek caught five passes for a career-high 156 yards and a beauty of a touchdown.

"Those are two pretty good corners, so we had a couple of opportunities out there," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Revis was manned up on Jackson for most of the game, but there were a number of times when he received safety help. So Jackson was, more or less, a decoy. He's had to play that role a number of times this season. It doesn't show up in the game summary.

So Eagles quarterback Michael Vick targeted him only two times. But Jackson, who has had his effort questioned by many, contributed in other ways. The best example came when he ran down Jets safety Brodney Pool after LeSean McCoy fumbled late in the second quarter.

"I don't have to show nobody nothing," Jackson said. "I come to work, I work hard, I leave it on the field. At the end of the day, regardless of injury, what you feel I'm trying to prove, I'm not doing that."

So while Jackson's numbers are down this season - along with the Eagles' big play moments - Celek has come on like gangbusters over the last nine games. In the first five games, he caught just nine passes for 73 yards. Since then Celek has 45 catches for 600 yards and three touchdowns.

All three of his scores have come in Eagles victories this season. He's looked like the Celek from 2009, the one that many pegged as a future Pro Bowler, not the 2010 version that was banged up and was asked to often stay in and block.

"He's getting opportunities," Eagles tight end Clay Harbor said.

"The thing with Brent, it seems like every time he gets a chance, he does what he's supposed to. If his numbers are down it's because he's blocking more."

Celek and Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said there were passes drawn up earlier in the season in which the tight end was the No. 1 option, but a number of times the coverages weren't for picking and Vick went elsewhere. But the Jets played into the Eagles' hands.

Celek's biggest reception came early in the third quarter with the Jets down 15 and still within striking distance. New York was playing man-to-man underneath with a single safety deep. Celek beat his man, Vick hit him in stride and it was off to the races with the tight end falling just a yard short of his second touchdown.

"It was a play that was set up earlier in the game," Celek said. "Marty called a bunch of stick [routes] and then when he did stick-nod, we gashed them."

McCoy scored from 1 yard out and the Eagles were up, 35-13. Jets coach Rex Ryan called Celek's catch a "backbreaker."

Celek delivered a few dents early on. His best grab came on his 26-yard touchdown in the first quarter when he tipped a pass to himself and ran over a defender to get into the end zone.

"I was running against Cromartie and I stuck him and when I tried to come underneath he grabbed me a little bit," Celek said. "So it was a good throw by Mike but I couldn't quite dig for it and I had to tip it to myself in order to catch it."

Celek's day was the second best for an Eagles tight end in terms of receiving yards. Pete Retzlaff set the bar with a 204-yard game in 1965.

"I've met Pete Retzlaff," Celek said. "I tell him he's a wide receiver, not a tight end. But he holds all them records and they're going to be tough to beat."

Maybe not if Jackson sticks around.