- Associated Press - Sunday, December 19, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. | With 13 seconds left, DeSean Jackson never thought he’d get a chance to win the game. Matt Dodge was ordered by Giants coach Tom Coughlin to punt away from the Eagles’ elusive return man.

The rookie punted all right, straight to Jackson, who fumbled the ball before taking off on one of the greatest plays in NFL history — a breathtaking 65-yard punt return for the winning touchdown on the final play of the game.

The Eagles scored 28 points in the final 7:18 and beat the New York Giants 38-31 on Sunday, a bitter loss that revived memories of “The Miracle at the Meadowlands” in 1978.

Call this one “The Miracle at the New Meadowlands.”

“I was thinking to myself like ‘they’re not going to kick it to me,’” Jackson said. “I was thinking he was going to kick it out of bounds. But it got to me. From there, I just used my instincts and my speed to get into the end zone.”

The electrifying finish left the Eagles (10-4) alone in first place in the NFC East, one game ahead of the deflated Giants (9-5).

And it took the play of the season to make it happen.

“I’ve never been around anything like this in my life,” Coughlin said. “It’s about as empty as you get to feel in this business, right there.”

The stunning turn of events brought back thoughts of Joe Pisarcik’s fumble in ‘78. The Giants quarterback botched a handoff at the end of the game, allowing the Eagles’ Herm Edwards to scoop up the loose ball and run in for the winning points.

This time, the showstopper was Jackson.

“Somebody told me that coach Coughlin ran on the field and tried to get his kicker because he was just so pissed that his kicker punted the ball to me,” said Jackson, who was limited in practice this week with a foot injury. “That just shows how mad he was at that punter.”

Coughlin tossed the papers in his hand to the ground and confronted Dodge after the play, clearly agitated.

“I’ll take full responsibility for the last play,” Coughlin said. “With him back there, you don’t punt the ball to him.”

They did, and the play will go down in NFL lore as the only game-winning punt return on the final play from scrimmage.

Edwards, now an NFL analyst with ESPN, said he knows Jackson, and that the two will be “linked together.” When he saw Jackson hit the crease “I said to myself ‘are you kidding me? Is this about to happen? Same two teams, same result, same site?’ And what many people won’t remember is that it was the same corner of the end zone from the Miracle. Different stadium, but it was that same corner that I finished in. Unbelievable.”

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