It looked as if the Eagles wouldn't recover in time to fight back. By the time the Eagles cleared their heads, it was the fourth quarter. That was when Michael Vick took them down the field multiple times. That was when they recovered an onside kick. That was when DeSean Jackson saved the season by returning a punt for a touchdown with no time left. That was when the Eagles won the game, 38-31, in stunning fashion.
That, as Mike Quick said breathlessly during one of the great Philly sports radio calls since the 2008 World Series, was when legends were made.
"I got nothing to say right now," Jackson told Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver after the game while trying to catch his breath - probably for several reasons. "We're a dominant team. Down [24-3], and come back and win? That's unbelievable."
At halftime, with the Eagles trailing by three touchdowns, the Fox feed cut to the studio show. Curt Menefee welcomed viewers and summed up everything with a short, simple line: "Not much of a battle at all," Menefee said. No one argued. No one considered the possibility that the Birds would make the score respectable, let alone win the game on one of the most dramatic and potentially important plays in the organization's history.
The Eagles are in first place in the NFC East by themselves now. They appear headed to the playoffs. The Giants are in a far less certain situation. That's the ugly truth for New York. It's bad enough that New Yorkers had to watch their team fold in such a public, abject manner. The humiliating loss had to be even more painful for them because the Birds administered the blow.
"I've never liked the Giants," Quintin Mikell said before the teams clashed. "There's so much that goes into that. The proximity. Both teams always being in the thick of the NFC East race. It's just more intense. To me, they're our biggest rivals."
Philadelphia has been conditioned to hate the Cowboys and consider them the Eagles' main enemy, but the real and sustained disdain has always been between the Birds and Giants. Philly and New York had their 152d regular-season meeting Sunday. It was the latest the two sides had played to determine first place. Well, the Birds played. The Giants ended up quitting shortly before the game was actually over.
The scrap between Philly and the New York/New Jersey area hasn't been much of a contest lately. The Phils stole Cliff Lee from the Yankees. The Flyers throttled the Rangers. The Sixers beat the Nets. Now this. If New York's agony wasn't so enjoyable to watch, you'd almost feel bad for the people there.
Before the game, coach Andy Reid talked about the rivalry between the Eagles and Giants and said, "I think it's kind of neat that both teams are in a position where the game is important this late in the season."
That's probably what New York fans are thinking - that Sunday was "neat."
Comcast SportsNet likes to have its studio analysts predict "stars of the game." Vaughn Hebron put a lot of thought into his daring selection and went with Michael Vick. He seemed pretty proud of his choice and delivered it without irony. As these things go, it was like watching someone boldly predict that Christmas will fall on the 25th this year.
Michael Barkann kept a straight face, then turned to Hebron. "I thought yours was the most imaginative and creative," Barkann deadpanned.
Pretty sure Pam Oliver was wearing Michael Jackson's jacket Sunday. . . . Still not tired of the Vick/Woodbury Nisan collaboration (http://bit.ly/eCCfZU). Has to be the funniest local commercial produced in a long while. The bit where he smiles and gives a thumbs-up to help close the deal gets me every time. . . . Good news for shopping procrastinators: The Redskins are slashing prices 50 percent. All Donovan McNabb jerseys must go. . . . A special holiday edition of Ask Gonzo will be held Monday at 2 p.m. on Philly.com. As Page 2's present to the readers, the chat will be free. Even Santa can't compete with that price.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gonzophilly.