ARLINGTON, Texas — TY Hilton’s introduction to the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t have been better as it came on Saturday at what may be the darkest moment of their game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Facing third and 30th after Dak Prescott was sacked in back-to-back games and the Eagles trailed 34-27 with 8:02 left, Hilton made a 52-yard reception and sped from cornerback Darius Slay.
“Third-and-30,” Prescott said with a smile. “Find TY”
Four games after Hilton’s catch, CeeDee Lamb had his second touchdown reception of the game, a 7-yarder that tied the score at 5:49 to play. The Cowboys (11-4) would score two more field goals for a 40-34 win over Philadelphia (13-2), keeping their faint NFC East title hopes alive with two games left and perhaps giving them a confidence boost , should the rivals meet again in the playoffs.
“It’s great and it appealed to us,” Hilton said. “If I’m able to do that, the sky’s the limit for us.”
Hilton said he had a feeling before the ball banged. When the Cowboys performed this piece in practice, Prescott went to see him several times. When Slay had his eye on the quarterback and not him, Hilton, who only joined the Cowboys on December 12, felt even better.
“The ball just took off and I was like, ‘Well, here we go,’ and that’s what I’m doing, man. I only do games,” Hilton said. “That’s what I’m here for – to keep making plays, to keep guiding these guys and to help them in any way I can. And when I get out of there, just show that I’m still here.”
At the start of the game, Hilton, 33, said he could still walk. His 2021 season with the Indianapolis Colts was ended by injury, but after watching his kids play football throughout the summer and fall, he said his body feels refreshed.
Afterwards, Hilton took to Twitter to wonder if the catch was his “welcome to Dallas” moment.
hmmmm I wonder if that was my welcoming moment to Dallas 🤔🤔
— TY Hilton (@TYHilton13) December 25, 2022
“This is a guy who’s made a lot of big catches in his career,” Prescott said. “Had a long career and been very, very successful [earlier in the game], I went to him and he pulled the hold call. Right here, third and 30, yeah he made it up with him when I released it and I knew I had to let some leeway underneath. I knew he was going to make a game and it would be either that or an incompleteness. He obviously went and made a catch.”
The third-and-30 conversion was the longest on third-down in the NFL since Week 2 of the 2020 season, when San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon ran to third-and-31 for a 55-yard touchdown, so ESPN Statistics & Information Research.
Over the past 10 seasons, Hilton has had the second most receptions of at least 50 yards at 17, tied with Tyreek Hill and AJ Green. DeSean Jackson has the most at 30.
Saturday’s contest was Hilton’s first of 2022. He was inactive last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Cowboys’ main focus in recent months has been on the possible addition of free agent Odell Beckham Jr. He has visited the team and met with the medical staff, coaches and players. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones often expressed optimism that Beckham would join the Cowboys and make a contribution once the playoffs began.
Hilton sneaked in almost covertly with a workout so good the Cowboys stopped him halfway because they knew he still had juice.
“It’s a people business,” said Dallas coach Mike McCarthy. “Obviously TY is extremely talented and extremely tested. He’s played at the Pro Bowl level for several years, so obviously these types of situations are unique, (A) being available for him and then an opportunity to get a deal going. In the phone calls that were made, one could only find extremely high praise for him. He was everything plus.”