On the morning of September 29th, 2002, just over 13 years ago, gas prices were less than $1.50, Nelly’s “Dilemma” topped the charts, Sweet Home Alabama had just been released, the Anaheim Angels, who would go on to win the World Series, were finishing up an 18-9 month, and Brian Dawkins, in his seventh season in the NFL, was about to make history.
One fumble recovery, one interception, one touchdown, one sack. The LA Times referred to this historic event as football’s equivalent of hitting for the cycle but as the only player to have done it at the time, the only player to have done it to this date, it seems more appropriate to, for future reference, christen the accomplishment as “Dawkinsing.”
1st Quarter – The Fumble
It all began toward the end of the first quarter, as the Eagles were down 7-3, and Houston’s rookie QB David Carr was ready to run. Needing six yards for the first down, Carr found an opening and gained the yards needed. Instead of sliding to deaden the play however, Carr kept going, accruing nine yards on the ground before Darwin Walker stripped him. Ever the alert player, Dawkins, who was closely trailing the play, recovered the loose ball. He only managed to take the ball back four yards, but it was enough to put Philly in position for their first touchdown and first lead of the game, courtesy of a one-yard rush from Duce Staley.
2nd Quarter – The Interception
In the second quarter just two Houston drives later, courtesy of the iconic Jim Johnson blitz, the defense again got pressure on the quarterback. This time however, instead of Carr running, he made an ill-advised throw, one that landed in the hands of Dawkins. B-Dawk ran the ball back for 27 yards, setting up the Eagles with a short field that ultimately resulted in a 41-yard David Akers field goal.
3rd Quarter – The Touchdown
The Eagles had the ball to open the third quarter and up 20-7, decided to get a little creative. The drive lasted just seven plays and looked to be culminating on the PHI 43 with a punt. Wrong. The Eagles, who had pulled off a successful fake field goal the week prior, flipped the script. Instead of punting, playing the role of QB was veteran running back Brian Mitchell and the role of wide receiver, none other than Dawkins. It was his first NFL target, a simple shovel pass, designed for no other purpose than to get the Eagles the first down. But the thing about trick plays is they catch the opponent off guard and such was the case with the Texans. By the time Dawkins had the ball, streaking down the field, Houston was too late. Dawkins had dodged all of his would-be tacklers and stood in the end zone, having victimized the Texans with a 57-yard score.
His first and last reception was his first and last receiving touchdown. Only fitting it would come in a week where Dawkins was involved in every facet of the game.
4th Quarter – The Sack
Dawkins had just 26 sacks in his illustrious NFL career, one of which came against the Texans. The game already out of reach, 35-17 in favor of the Eagles, Philly’s defense sacked Carr four times on the team’s final five plays, including a nine-yard loss at the hand of Dawkins on the third to last play of the game.
Just like his 57-yard touchdown, to date, Dawkins is the first and last player to record a fumble recovery, sack, interception and touchdown in the same game. Even J.J. Watt, ironically enough of the very same Texans, who has done just about everything a defensive player can, hasn’t put together that kind of statement game such as Dawkins did. And it’s quite possible he never will. LA Times called it hitting for the cycle, the rarest feat in baseball, but this is even more than that. What Dawkins did would be like if a hattrick, triple double and hitting for the cycle had a baby. It’s that impressive and it’s very possible September 29th, 2002, is the only time it’s ever accomplished.