ARLINGTON, Texas — TY Hilton’s introduction to the Dallas Cowboys could not have been any better because it came at perhaps the darkest moment of their game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.
Facing third-and-30 after Dak Prescott was sacked on consecutive plays and trailing the Eagles 34-27 with 8:02 to play, Hilton made a 52-yard reception, racing by cornerback Darius Slay.
“Third-and-30,” Prescott said with a smile. “Find TY”
Four plays after Hilton’s catch, CeeDee Lamb had his second touchdown reception of the game, a 7-yarder that tied the score with 5:49 to play. The Cowboys (11-4) would score two more field goals for a 40-34 win against Philadelphia (13-2), keeping their faint NFC East title hopes alive with two games remaining and perhaps giving them a jolt of confidence should the rivals meet again in the playoffs.
“It’s awesome, and it sparked 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 snap of the ball. When the Cowboys ran that play in practice, Prescott went to him multiple times. When Slay had his eyes on the quarterback and not on him, Hilton, who joined the Cowboys only on Dec. 12, felt even better.
“The ball just took off, and I was like, ‘Well, here we go,’ and that’s what I do, man. I just make plays,” Hilton said. “That’s what I’m here for — continue to make plays, continue to guide those guys and help them as much as I can. And when I get out there, just show that I’m still here.”
Leading into the game, Hilton, 33, said he could still run. His 2021 season with the Indianapolis Colts was done in by injury, but after watching his kids play football through the summer and fall, he said his body felt refreshed.
Afterwards, Hilton wondered on Twitter if the catch was his “welcome to Dallas moment.”
Hummmm. I wonder was that my welcome to Dallas moment 🤔🤔
— TY Hilton (@TYHilton13) December 25, 2022
“That’s a guy that’s made a lot of big-time catches in his career,” Prescott said. “Had a long career and has been very, very successful. Fourth down [earlier in the game], I went to him, and he drew the holding call. Right here, third-and-30, yeah, he got even with him as I was releasing it, and I knew to put some air under it. I knew he’d go make a play and it would be either that or an incompletion. 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 for a 55-yard touchdown on third-and-31, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Over the past 10 seasons, Hilton is tied with Tyreek Hill and AJ Green for the second-most receptions of at least 50 yards with 17. DeSean Jackson has the most with 30.
Saturday’s contest was Hilton’s first in 2022. He was inactive last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Most of the receiver focus for the Cowboys over the past few months centered on the possible addition of free agent Odell Beckham Jr. He 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 contribute once the playoffs started.
Hilton slipped in almost undercover with a workout that was so good, the Cowboys stopped him midway through, knowing he still had juice.
“This is a people business,” Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said. “Obviously, TY is extremely talented, extremely proven. He’s played at a Pro Bowl level multiple years, so obviously, these types of situations are unique, (A) for him to be available, and then the opportunity to get a deal going. You couldn’t find anything but extremely high praise for him as far as the phone calls that were made. He’s been everything plus.”