Tossing away the ball, just before a touchdown DeSean Jackson thought he had six points. Instead, the rookie made a huge blunder.

Posted: September 16, 2008

IRVING, Texas — Just how fast is DeSean Jackson?

Apparently, so fast the football can't keep up with him.

A play Jackson made last night against the Dallas Cowboys will no doubt be shown over and again on highlights, but the Eagles rookie receiver may want to cover his eyes.

Midway through the second quarter in the final Monday night game at Texas Stadium, Jackson split Cowboy defenders Adam "Pacman" Jones and Roy Williams and hauled in a long pass from Donovan McNabb. He then nonchalantly flipped the football behind him, as if to say, "No big deal." It was a 61-yard touchdown and the points went up on the board.

But there was a problem. The Cowboys thought Jackson had lost possession of the ball before he crossed the goal line. They were correct. A video review of the play determined that Jackson had yet to cross the goal line, and his little celebratory move was ruled a fumble.

Jackson was fortunate. The ball was ruled dead on the field of play, so the Eagles were given the football on the 1-yard line, first-and-goal.

So Jackson stood on the sideline, the exhilaration he got from his play quickly dissipating. What if the Eagles had lost a fumble rather than score? He would have had to answer to Andy Reid. So it's safe to assume that no one in the stadium wanted the Eagles to punch it in more than Jackson.

He can thank Brian Westbrook for saving him. On first down, Westbrook leaped over the Dallas defensive front for a 1-yard TD, giving the Birds a 27-21 lead.

There have been similar gaffes. In 1971, Steelers receiver Dave Smith held the ball up just as he was about to cross the goal line. He spiked it and it rolled through the end zone. It was a touchback and Pittsburgh lost possession to Kansas City.

And who can forget the Cowboys' Leon Lett in the Super Bowl in 1993? The big lineman recovered a fumble and was rumbling toward the end zone when he held out the ball. Buffalo wide receiver Don Beebe slapped it out of Lett's hand before Lett crossed the goal line, and Buffalo recovered.

At least Jackson flipped the ball behind him, and was spared the kind of embarrassment that would have stuck with him for a while.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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