Staff and wire reports
A pair of notable NFL rookies had their first career touchdowns on Sunday, helping propel their teams to 4-1 records.
One was 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. The other? Clovis native Hank Baskett.
On the same afternoon the No. 2 draft pick of the New Orleans Saints returned a punt 65 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in a 24-21 win over Tampa Bay, Baskett — an undrafted rookie who came to the Eagles in a trade — hauled in three passes for 112 yards, including an 87-yard sideline bomb, to help lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 38-24 victory over the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys.
The play came with the Eagles trailing 21-17 and facing first and 10 at their 13 after a Cowboys punt.
Dallas cornerback Anthony Henry came after quarterback Donovan McNabb on a weakside blitz, leaving Baskett one-on-one against rookie safety Patrick Watkins. Watkins bit on a run fake, leaving Baskett enough separation to haul in the long throw from McNabb.
“Donovan called it perfectly,” Baskett said in a story titled “Baskett Breaks Out on Big Stage” on the Eagles’ team Web site. “We were standing in the huddle and he said, ‘Be ready for the corner blitz,’ and we saw the corner go right away and the safety bit on the move and Donovan got me the ball. It’s really amazing what that man can do.”
Baskett broke a tackle attempt by Watkins and 30 yards later, he was celebrating a lead the Eagles would never relinquish.
The play was described by ESPN anchor Chris Berman later that night as a “Baskett catch,” and a Game Changer feature on ESPN’s Web site said Baskett’s touchdown changed the Eagles’ win probability from 38 percent to 63 percent.
The game held extra meaning for many in Philadelphia with the return of controversial receiver Terrell Owens. While Owens struggled (three catches for 45 yards), it was the unheralded Eagle receiver corps that made the headlines.
“Everybody around hyped up T.O. being here more than we did,” Baskett told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We treated it like another game, (but) we know it’s a division rival and all that. We stepped up, ‘cause we knew it was going to come down to us.”
McNabb completed passes to seven Eagles en route to 354 yards and two touchdowns — the other a 40-yard lob to Reggie Brown.
After making the final roster for the Eagles, Baskett said the team may not have a huge weapon at the receiver slot, but everybody was capable of making plays.
The numbers are proving his case, as McNabb is on pace for 5,000 passing yards and all five games have featured a different receiver leading the team in yards.
Baskett has seven catches for 172 yards on the season. Baskett and the Eagles visit Bush and the Saints on Sunday.
Attempts to reach Baskett for further comment were unsuccessful.