PHILADELPHIA—— Still a long shot to make the playoffs, the Eagles at least gave themselves the best kind of momentum heading into their Christmas Eve showdown with the Dallas Cowboys next Saturday.
They demolished the New York Jets 45-19 for only their second home victory of the season to keep alive the possibility of not only making the postseason but winning the NFC East and starting with a home game.
New York Giants losing a 23-10 decision to Washington just before kickoff, the Eagles (6-8) remained in contention and responded by playing their most complete game of the season.
Not even their customary generous amount of giveaways (four) slowed them down in this romp, which was highlighted by Harrisburg native, running back LeSean McCoy running for three touchdowns on his way to 102 rushing yards and Michael Vick completing 15 of 22 passes for 174 yards a touchdown and one harmless interception on the final play of the first half.
With two games to spare, the Bishop McDevitt grad, McCoy now owns the franchise records for rushing TDs (17) and total TDs (20).
Tight end Brent Celek, who quietly has emerged as the team's leading receiver this season, added five receptions for 156 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown and a 73-yard reception to set up McCoy's second score.
More impressive was the Eagles' defense, which put together its second straight dominating performance after spending the first three-quarters of the season desperately attempting to shed a largely negative image.
The Eagles battered Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (15-for-26, 150 yards, two TDs, two interceptions, four sacks) to the point where they forced him out of the game briefly in the second half and produced four takeaways leading to 21 points.
Linebacker Casey Matthews, out of circulation for most of the season after losing his starting job less than a month in, made his presence felt on the Eagles' first defensive series, first snuffing LaDanian Tomlinson for a 4-yard loss on a screen pass, then putting the finishing touch on a combined strip with Kurt Coleman of Santonio Holmes on the next play.
Defensive end Juqua Parker picked it up and rumbled 47 yards for a touchdown with a slew of escorts, led by Coleman, along the way.
The defense set up the next touchdown as well, immediately after an Eagles turnover on a punt had set the Jets up at the Eagles' 14-yard line.
Two plays later, Asante Samuel intercepted a Sanchez pass and returned it 19 yards to the Eagles' 23.
From there, Vick needed just seven plays to get them into the end zone again for a 14-0 lead, with the payoff being especially spectacular. Vick stood in against a heavy rush, sensing he was about to get crushed by Calvin Pace upon his release, and delivered a 26-yard scoring strike to tight end Brent Celek.
Celek bobbled it before reeling it in for his third TD reception of the season.
Things would get much worse for the Jets before they would get better.
In the second quarter, Vick completed a 16-yard pass to DeSean Jackson for a first down on third-and-7, setting up an 11-yard scramble around left end for a touchdown on the next play. Incredibly, it was Vick's first rushing touchdown of the season.
Not until after the Eagles made it 28-0 on a 9-yard touchdown run by McCoy were the Jets able to get on the scoreboard. That happened when Nick Folk kicked a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter.