The ball hung up in the air for what seemed like an eternity.
But Marcus Mailei, the rookie fullback, was waiting patiently for his only touch of the night - a three-yard touchdown reception from Donovan McNabb. McNabb lofted the ball over an oncoming defender to Mailei, who turned around, dove, and stretched the ball toward the pylon to beat two would-be tacklers and notch his first NFL touchdown.
"Oh, it felt great," Mailei said after the game. "It was surreal. I can't believe I caught my first TD pass from McNabb. I used to watch the guy when I was in junior high."
Mailei remembers every nanosecond of the play.
"(McNabb) lobbed it up and so I thought I had space," Mailei said. "I though, this might be a back-pedal in. I caught the ball, took two backpedals, then I was like, 'No, this is too slow.'
"So I turned around, saw the pylon, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see people coming pretty fast. So I just said, 'touch the pylon,' and I did ... It was just like how you see it on TV."
Mailei's exuberance is refreshing, and he knows that his touchdown meant a lot more because the team was able to scrap out a win.
"If you score a touchdown and you don't win the game, you almost feel like it doesn't exist," he said. "But when you win, it almost doubles. So I'm glad to be a big part of that win."
Mailei received his most extensive playing time of the preseason, and he seems to be locked up in a battle with Kyle Eckel for the role of backup fullback to Leonard Weaver.
"I feel like I'm doing good," Mailei said. "Kyle's a great guy. He's the best guy I've competed against ever. I mean, we both still joke around, and you know, I wish the best for him. I want to compare the best with the best; I wish the best for both of us."
It's been an interesting transition to professional football for Mailei, who was a two-time All-Big Sky selection at Weber State. Mailei signed with the Eagles as a rookie free agent following the 2009 draft, and has displayed good hands and a high football IQ throughout his time with the team.
"There's been so many ups and downs," Mailei said of his rookie experience so far. "It's bizarre. From going to being the man at Weber to coming and holding bags over here to finally getting some playing time tonight. It's been a wild trip for me."
But Mailei answered the question of whether or not he belongs at this level against the Jaguars with his spinning, stretching, score.
"That was like an NFL touchdown," he says with a smile.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:31 p.m., August 28