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Odd Man Rush: Snow gives way to Shady in Philadelphia
By Michael Rushton, Contributing NFL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Having played his college ball at the University of Pittsburgh before getting selected in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, one would assume that LeSean McCoy has seen his fair share of snow.
McCoy, though, said he had never before played in the conditions that presented themselves at kickoff on Sunday against the Detroit Lions; steady snow and a fog that lowered visibility throughout the stadium.
"I've actually played all of my football in Pennsylvania and this is the worst game that I've ever played in weather-wise," said McCoy.
Seconds later, he added, "It's my best game too."
That's because McCoy rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards and scored two of Philadelphia's four touchdowns in the final quarter in a 34-20 victory.
In the hours leading up to Sunday's game between the playoff contenders, weather that wasn't expected to arrive until around halftime began to fall on Lincoln Financial Field. The field was a canvas of white at kickoff and two of the more high-powered offenses in all of football struggled to find their footing.
For the Eagles, who came in on a four-game winning streak, the recent talk surrounding the club was just how far inexperienced quarterback Nick Foles can take the club now that he is firmly entrenched as the starter over Michael Vick. But McCoy reminded everyone that Philadelphia has a pretty good running back already in place, one that can change the outcome of a game with a single play.
McCoy's impact on Sunday came on more than one play as both of his scoring runs were highlight-reel worthy. McCoy was able to find the traction and bursts of speed that eluded the Eagles in the first half, when they were limited to just 90 yards of offense.
Detroit wide receiver Jeremy Ross compared the field conditions to playing in heels and that was from a guy who had two return touchdowns in the game.
"It was insane," added Eagles tight end Brent Celek. "Sometimes it felt like there were eight inches of snow out there. When you would step, you wouldn't be touching the grass. The fact that (McCoy) was (having a big game), it's insane."
McCoy managed to run for 51 yards through the first two quarters, but Philly headed into the locker room down 8-0 and the way things were going that seemed like way more than a one-score deficit.
But the second half was a different story as Philadelphia racked up 388 total yards and McCoy continuously helped to keep momentum on his club's side.
His first touchdown, a 40-yard run, helped to tie the game at 14-14. On the play, McCoy danced a bit at the line before accelerating through and leaping a defender. He then broke out of another tackle attempt before finding the snow- covered end zone.
"I know LeSean is a very talented back, can do some things, but this wasn't going to be a day when we were going to get to the perimeter," said Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
That turned the heat up in chilly Philly, but the Lions quickly answered as Ross took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a score.
Back came the Eagles as McCoy broke off a 57-yard scoring run on the third play of Philadelphia's next drive. This time he went virtually untouched through the left side of the line, giving the Eagles a pair of touchdowns on two drives that lasted fewer than two minutes combined.
And just like that, Philadelphia pulled away. Foles added a one-yard rushing score on a drive that lasted just over four minutes, while third-string back Chris Polk capped what seemed like a marathon drive of four minutes and 17 seconds with a 38-yard TD run.
"We just weren't firing off the ball," said Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson of the second-half adjustments. "We really had to slow it up and let the Lions linebackers overrun their gaps. Then we just sealed off and Shady sealed them on the backside for long runs."
McCoy has made a name for himself with electric cuts and game-breaking speed, but with the weather taking horizontal running out of the game, he made his money going north-south.
Not that he didn't enjoy it.
"People don't really know. They see the moves I make, but I actually like to run between the tackles," said McCoy. "It gives me so much leverage in terms of being able to go up the middle, bring it outside or reverse it. You can see the holes and today the guys up front gave me so much room to work."
The 25-year-old broke Steve Van Buren's franchise mark of 205 yards in a single game during the 1949 season.
Of breaking the record, McCoy said, "It means a lot. I think records are meant to be broken and it's been standing for so long. (Van Buren's) the kind of guy that if you're going to break a record, why not his? He's a guy that put some much work in."
The Eagles and Lions came into the game ranked third and fourth in total yardage, respectively, and putting up over 24 points a game, but the snowy conditions threw that stats out the window.
Still, what McCoy accomplished came against a Lions run defense that ranked third in football coming and had not allowed a rushing touchdown in eight straight games. That streak was expanded to 37 consecutive quarters before McCoy's first fourth-quarter score.
In all, the Eagles rushed for a total of 299 yards against a defense that had not yielded more than 62 yards on the ground in six straight.
"Pretty much, we didn't make tackles," said Lions cornerback Chris Houston on the difference between halves. "I don't really know what was going on. They just kept running the ball. I don't know if they were doing something different. I just don't really know."
Kelly said afterwards there was no change to the offense after the half.
"We actually ran the same offense the entire game, it's just about whether we execute or don't execute," noted the coach. "It was hurry up and sit in the first quarter for us, and then we got a chance to get it going."
Another incredible feat that came out of Philadelphia's fifth straight win was the fact that the Eagles turned the ball over just one time on Foles' first interception of the season. Foles also had a fumble that he recovered for a no-harm, no-foul play.
By comparison, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford was credited with five fumbles, one lost, and the Eagles recovered both fumbles by Lions running back Joique Bell.
Bell saw the bulk of the action at running back after the weather claimed its first victim even before kickoff. Detroit running back Reggie Bush, primed to start despite being limited in practice throughout the week with a calf ailment, aggravated the injury after slipping during warmups.
The Eagles had few slip ups and as a result took a half-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys, who visit the Chicago Bears on Monday night, for first place in the NFC East.
And while Foles remains the great unknown, "Shady" McCoy showed what he is: one of the top running backs in football.
It might always be sunny in Philadelphia, but on this snowy Sunday the Eagles enjoyed things getting Shady.
12/08 20:26:16 ET