Eagles Wake-Up Call: DeMarco’s Dominant Return
Losing in the first half to his former team, DeMarco Murray walked the sideline during Week 2 livid. In those first two quarters at Lincoln Financial Field against the Cowboys, Murray carried the ball seven times for -10 rushing yards.
“He was very, very passionate the first time we played them,” Jason Kelce said, “and it was frustrating for him out there — you could see it on his face — with how the game was going.”
Flash forward seven weeks and Murray combined for 161 rushing and receiving yards, plus a touchdown on the ground. Philadelphia topped Dallas, 33-27, in overtime as Murray had his best statistical game as an Eagle.
After the win, Murray said it was just another matchup to him, but his teammates told a different story.
“He had a lot of animosity from that last game,” Lane Johnson said. “This was great for him.”
Ryan Mathews chipped in 67 rushing yards of his own, as the Eagles amassed 172 yards on the ground. According to Reuben Frank, this is the first time the Eagles have rushed for at least 150 yards in four straight games since 1992.
Kelce partially attributed the Eagles’ improved rushing attack to Matt Tobin remaining at right guard and their growing chemistry. Previously, Tobin had shifted to left tackle to replace Jason Peters, but Johnson switched sides instead against Dallas.
“We knew that this was a game where the communication was huge,” Kelce said. “That was the biggest thing that killed us the first game — we didn’t handle the [defensive line’s] movement well. Really the movement affected the interior more than the outside players. [Our communication] was really good tonight.”
Johnson, who said he’s a better run blocker at left tackle and a better pass blocker at right tackle, appeared to be beaten just once in pass protection. He committed a few penalties, although Kelce attributed Johnson’s false starts to Greg Hardy’s success in jumping the snap count and Johnson trying to counteract that.
After the game, Johnson expressed optimism in transitioning to left tackle when he has more repetitions at the position, but added that he wasn’t very comfortable against the Cowboys.
“I don’t know if I ever felt comfortable,” Johnson said. “There were a couple of times [Hardy] beat [me] off the ball. That’s one thing I’m not as good at on the left as I am on the right is getting off on the snap count. That’s something I’ll build on in the future.
“It was weird. It was a short week’s notice. But that’s what you have to do. I’ll be more comfortable about it in the future. It’s just going to take time.”
According to Johnson, the Eagles added a wrinkle to their inside zone that the Cowboys haven’t seen in a while. They also ran more outside zone, and improved their second-level blocking while attacking the Dallas linebackers.
The Eagles converted two crucial fourth down attempts by running the ball as well, one of which resulted in a second quarter touchdown, and the other in overtime the play before Sam Bradford’s game-winning touchdown pass.
Several Eagles attributed their dominant rushing attack at least in part to their tempo, as a few players said the offense went faster than they have at any other point this season.
“Once we got rolling, then we started hitting them with some tempo,” Kelce said. “And once we hit them with tempo, you could see that they were getting tired. It really felt like those old drives where once we get a big play, we just kept pushing it on them.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I’ve always had confidence in [Bradford].” Chip Kelly liked what he saw from his quarterback last night.
Tim brings us his comprehensive instant observations from the Birds’ win in Big D.
“He improved as the game went on.” Four downs from Dallas, including Sam Bradford‘s sturdy second half.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank relays his ten observations from the Eagles’ victory, including DeMarco Murray‘s huge night.
1. Have to start with DeMarco Murray, who finally showed us all why the Eagles believed so much in him and invested so much in him. What a commanding performance by Murray in his first game back at AT&T Stadium against his former team.
Murray ran for 83 yards and had six catches for 78 yards against the same team that he held him to two rushing yards against in Week 2. Absolutely dominating stuff from Murray on the national stage against his former team after a dud of a game in the first matchup. Doesn’t get any better than that.
The final play of Sunday night was exactly what Sam Bradford was expected to deliver, writes Zach Berman.
The Eagles acquired Sam Bradford for signature moments like the final play of the Eagles’ 33-27 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, when the luster of his offseason arrival returned with a 41-yard pass to Jordan Matthews for a game-winning touchdown.
Those interceptions and incompletions from the first seven games could be forgiven for one week. Matthews’ drops are now last month’s news. If there’s any way to revitalize hope in Philadelphia, it’s by beating the Cowboys in overtime.
Chip Kelly will address the media at 1 p.m.