The NFC East is up for grabs and the Philadelphia Eagles are back in the mix.
LeSean McCoy ran for three touchdowns to set two team records, and the Eagles routed the New York Jets 45-19 Sunday to stay in the playoff chase.
The Eagles (6-8) have won two straight for just the second time this season and somehow still have a chance to repeat as NFC East champions despite underachieving most of the year. But they have to catch Dallas (8-6) and the New York Giants (7-7).
The loss snapped New York’s three-game winning streak, dropping the Jets (8-6) into a tie with Cincinnati for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. The Jets hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Bengals with a better record against common opponents.
Michael Vick threw for 274 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a score in his second game back after missing three with broken ribs.
McCoy ran for 102 yards and surpassed Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren with his 19th touchdown of the season and 16th rushing TD in the third quarter. Juqua Parker returned a fumble for a score, and Brent Celek had a career-best 156 yards receiving.
The Eagles scored 21 points off three turnovers en route to building a 28-0 lead, and didn’t let up after the Jets got within 28-13 at halftime.
When the Eagles last played at the Linc, fans booed them off the field and yelled “Fire Andy!” at coach Andy Reid following a lopsided loss to New England on Nov. 27.
It was far more festive this time around. Reid didn’t hear any boos, even with Rex Ryan — son of beloved former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan — standing on the other sideline.
The Washington Redskins kept Philadelphia’s division hopes alive with a 23-10 win at the Giants earlier in the day. Then the Eagles did their part by beating the Jets for the ninth time in nine tries.
Now it comes down to this: The Eagles can only get in the playoffs by winning the division. They must win at Dallas and home against Washington, and get some help. The Giants have to lose to the Jets and finish with a win at home over the Cowboys.
None of that would’ve mattered if the Eagles didn’t beat the Jets for just their second home win this season and second in their last 10 home games, including a playoff loss to Green Bay last January.
Mark Sanchez, who was outstanding during the Jets’ winning streak, completed 15 of 26 for 150 yards and two TDs. He was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.
Philadelphia went ahead 7-0 when Parker picked up Santonio Holmes’ fumble and returned it 47 yards for his second score this season. Holmes caught a pass for a 7-yard gain before the ball was stripped by Kurt Coleman.
The Jets got a break when a punt that returner DeSean Jackson let bounce went backward and hit off teammate Curtis Marsh. Ellis Lankster recovered it at the Eagles 14. But Asante Samuel then intercepted Sanchez’s pass at the 4 and returned it to the 23.
Vick connected with Celek for a 26-yard TD pass to put Philadelphia up 14-0. Celek made an outstanding catch on a ball thrown ahead of him. He reached out to tip it with his right hand, corralled it inside the 5 and tumbled into the end zone.
The Eagles extended that lead to 21-0 on Vick’s 11-yard TD run early in the second quarter. A roughing-the-passer penalty on Marcus Dixon — the second time the Jets were flagged for hitting Vick late — contributed to 15 of Philadelphia’s 57 yards on that drive.
Vick scrambled down the left side and dived headfirst, stretching his hand just over the pylon for his first rushing score of the season. He had 10 last year, including one in the playoffs.
Sanchez fumbled when he was hit by Mike Patterson after running on a busted play on New York’s next possession. Joselio Hanson recovered at the Jets 21, and McCoy ran in from the 9 to make it 28-0.
But the Jets wouldn’t go down easy.
Nick Folk kicked a 39-yard field goal. Dion Lewis fumbled the kickoff, and the Jets started at Philadelphia’s 24 after Lankster made his second recovery. Sanchez fired a 25-yard TD pass to Holmes to cut it to 28-10.
Another turnover gave the Jets the ball back. McCoy fumbled at the end of a 12-yard run, and Brodney Pool raced 33 yards with it to the Eagles 27. It was McCoy’s first lost fumble in 490 touches, dating to last season.
Philadelphia’s defense stiffened and the Jets settled for Folk’s 28-yard field goal to get within 28-13.
McCoy’s 1-yard TD run in the third quarter broke Van Buren’s team records. Van Buren had 18 total TDs and 15 rushing TDs in 1945.
McCoy padded his total with a 33-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that made it 45-13.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.