LeSean McCoy had just ripped off a nine-yard run on what proved to be his final carry of the night, and did a little Incredible Hulk flex as he sat in the snow. As he got up and exited the field, chants of “Shady!” began to break out. They got so loud that some members of the offense began waving at the crowd, asking them to quiet down so they could execute the next play. The fans knew they had just witnessed something special.
It was a performance that left his teammates in awe.
“The cutting and everything, the jumping, that’s…I just was kind of watching it and going, ‘That’s the best running back in the league right there. It’s a good thing we’ve got him on our side,’ ” said Jason Kelce. “It was impressive to say the least because if I was to try one of those, I probably would have did the splits right around the 50-yard line.”
McCoy took over down the stretch and carried the Eagles to a 34-20 win over the Lions. He set a franchise record with 217 rushing yards — 148 of which came in the fourth quarter. The previous record was set by Steve Van Buren (205 yards) back in 1949.
“He’s definitely a Hall-of-Famer, one of the best backs to play this game and obviously to play in Philadelphia,” said McCoy. “So it means a lot. Records are meant to be broken. It’s been standing for so long and if you want to break a record, why not his?”
Three snaps into the fourth quarter, McCoy broke off a 40-yard touchdown run . On the following possession, he got loose for a 57-yard score. A two-point conversion gave the Eagles their first lead of the game, and they pulled away from there thanks in part to an0ther long TD run — this one by Chris Polk. Suddenly, an offense that was stuck in neutral for almost the entire afternoon found its groove in a huge way.
There are a few different reasons for the turn of fortune. For one, the footing got a little bit better in the second half, according to the players. Evan Mathis was one of the players that put on longer cleats at halftime to help fight against the eight inches of snow on the ground. Lane Johnson actually forgot to bring his big-studded cleats to the facility, but adjusted his technique as the game went on.
“I found out you can’t fire off the ball because it gets real slippery. You have to kinda slow it up a little bit, then I’d come up second-level on the linebackers late,” said Johnson. “That allowed for linebackers to go across the formation to where the backside was really open for the run.”
Chip Kelly started dialing up more inside zone runs, and used a tight end to help keep the backside defender off the running backs. All that helped. The rest was McCoy.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect McCoy to have the biggest game of his life in conditions like this. He is known for his ability to cut on a dime. To start, stop, change direction, and start all over again. His agility was most definitely still on display Sunday, but the situation required him to be a little more of a north-south runner.
“People really don’t know, they see the moves that I make, but I actually like to run between the tackles. It gives me so much different leverage — do I go up the middle, bring it outside, reverse it — so I actually like to run between the tackles. You can see your holes,” said McCoy.
“I mean the guys up front just gave me opportunities one-on-one, blowing those guys off the ball. I think everybody is so intimidated and scared of their guys up front on Detroit, but I think the big guys on my team took a challenge and stepped up. The whole week all they talked about was running the ball and giving me different matchups, one-on-one.”
McCoy now has 1,305 yards rushing on the year. He needs only five yards to establish a new career high for rushing yards in a season, and with three games to play. Sunday was an historic afternoon in the midst of an historic campaign.
When Connor Barwin was talking about his unit’s outing, he said he didn’t want to label it as the defense’s best performance of the year, noting that these elements work in the defense’s favor. He was then reminded that McCoy was able to go off for a franchise high in rushing yards.
“Or not, I guess,” said Barwin.
“We see him do those ridiculous cuts all season long, but to do it in that kind of weather? We all fell half a dozen times and we didn’t have the ball in our hand, we didn’t have anybody running at us, and we were just falling. For him to do that, to not fumble the ball once, I mean is really incredible, and what maybe won the game.”
No maybe about it.