BRENT CELEK was hoping Andy Reid would challenge the ruling that Celek was down on the New York Jets' 1-yard line after a galloping 73-yard catch-and-run across the middle, which Celek cut to the right sideline.
It wasn't that Celek especially coveted his second touchdown of the day.
"I was tired. It felt like I had water in my lungs," said Celek, the Eagles' tight end, who ran away from Jets safety Eric Smith. (Yes, the Jets really miss injured Jim Leonhard). "It was a great throw by Mike [Vick]. The perfect coverage - it was man-to-man underneath, they had a single safety deep . . . I was hoping he would challenge it so I could catch my breath before that next play."
As it turned out, LeSean McCoy broke Steve Van Buren's records for rushing touchdowns and overall touchdowns in a season two plays later. Celek had to content himself with five catches for 156 yards, the biggest yardage day for an Eagles tight end since Pete Retzlaff racked up 204 yards vs. the Redskins on Nov. 14, 1965.
Celek knows Retzlaff, who said last year during the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1960 NFL Championship that he sees a lot of himself in Celek - the way he runs patterns, anticipates what defenders will do.
Celek joked yesterday that he likes to tell Retzlaff he was really a wide receiver, that all those records No. 44 set shouldn't be the standard for tight ends. (And in fact, Retzlaff was a wideout early in his career.)
"He holds all those records and they're going to be tough to beat. I'm going to give it a try," Celek said.
Celek looked like a wideout when he tipped a 26-yard TD pass to himself in the first quarter, beating corner Antonio Cromartie - but he looked like a tight end as he bulled through tacklers into the end zone.
"I grew up [in Cincinnati] and I always watched [Pittsburgh's] Jerome Bettis play," Celek said. "I always tried to emulate the things he did. He never let one guy tackle him. I tried to put that in my game. I think it fires guys up. When you're getting those extra yards, fighting for it, not letting one guy bring you down, it gets the team going, gets the crowd going. That's what I want to do. I want to energize this team."
Celek caught 76 passes for 971 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009, but through much of the Michael Vick era, he seemed to be an afterthought in the passing game. Celek said in training camp this summer he had bulked up to 260-plus pounds, to be a more effective blocker.
Five games into the 2011 season, Celek had just nine catches, four of them in the Atlanta game. But he has snagged at least three balls in every game since and has 45 in those nine games - five catches a game.
The Eagles' two biggest point totals this season are yesterday's 45 against Rex Ryan's Jets and Oct. 30's 34, against Rob Ryan's Cowboys. Rex said he was shocked after yesterday's game.
"I never thought they would score six out of seven possessions on us at one point," Ryan said. "That's ridiculous. They're decent, they're a good offense and all that, but we made them look - I mean, I don't know what to say."