EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — DeSean Jackson’s near replay of his winning punt return of last season helped the undermanned Philadelphia Eagles take a 10-3 halftime lead over the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Jackson went 65 yards with a punt runback last December on the final play of the game, lifting the Eagles to a victory and, eventually, the NFC East title. This time, he caught Steve Weatherford’s kick at almost the exact same spot, cut right and sped down the sideline for 51 yards before stepping out of bounds. It was, by far, his longest punt return this season.
One play later, Vince Young hit former Giants receiver Steve Smith in the left flat and he sped into the end zone.
Rookie Alex Henery’s 33-yard field goal accounted for the only other Eagles score in a first half marked by errors by both offenses and some solid defensive pressure from Philadelphia’s front four.
New York got its points as the half ended on Lawrence Tynes’ 48-yard field goal, set up by five pass completions by Eli Manning.
The Eagles were without two key offensive weapons, quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, and it showed. Vick is out with broken ribs suffered in last week’s loss to Arizona, and Maclin has hamstring and shoulder problems, also sustained against the Cardinals.
Then Jackson injured his right knee and left for a short time in the second period. But Jackson was back on the field for Philadelphia after being suspended a week ago for missing a team meeting. He didn’t do much on any of the Giants’ three punts before briefly leaving.
Jackson also had two receptions for 39 yards before returning later in the period. He then caught a 50-yard pass from Young, only to be called for taunting, negating the big gain.
Earlier, his 32-yard reception and LeSean McCoy’s weaving 13-yard run set up Henery’s field goal.
New York started cancer survivor Mark Herzlich, a rookie, at middle linebacker for the injured Michael Boley (hamstring). Herzlich went undrafted out of Boston College, then made the team and has appeared only on special teams before Sunday night. He made his first tackle early in the second quarter.
In the lineup for the first time this season was Giants top draft pick cornerback Prince Amukamara, who intercepted a pass midway through the opening quarter. He was badly beaten by Jackson, but Young’s pass was woefully short and Amukamara gathered it in.
But Manning gave it right back, stumbling as he dropped to pass, then throwing directly to linebacker Jamar Chaney. After Chaney returned the ball 14 yards, both sides drew penalties for late hits, with defensive tackle Trevor Laws laying out Manning.
That prompted Giants coach Tom Coughlin to loudly berate the officials. Manning was fine.
Philly sacked Manning twice in the half.