Paul Domowitch: Eagles' McCoy rejoins century club

Eagles' LeSean McCoy celebrates after running for a first down late in the fourth quarter.
Eagles' LeSean McCoy celebrates after running for a first down late in the fourth quarter.
Posted: November 22, 2010

The Eagles entered last night's game against the Giants ranked third in the NFL in rushing. But their top running back, LeSean McCoy, hadn't really had a lot to do with that lately.

While quarterback Michael Vick was playing his catch-me-if-you-can game with opposing defenses and even newcomer Jerome Harrison was racking up his first 100-yard rushing performance as an Eagle last week against the Redskins, McCoy has been earning his keep lately more as a pass-catcher and blocker in the Eagles' max-protect schemes than as a ball-carrier.

In the Eagles' last four games, he had rushed for just 250 yards on 64 carries for a not-particularly-impressive 3.9 yards per carry. He had just one run of 10-plus yards in his previous 75 rushing attempts.

If you took out his 62-yard run against the Colts, he had just 156 yards in his previous 58 carries and one rushing touchdown in his last seven games.

For much of last night, his futility as a rusher continued. He headed into the final 5 minutes of the Eagles' 27-17 win over the Giants with just 13 yards on eight carries.

Then, on a critical fourth-and-1 at midfield with 4 1/2 minutes left in the game and the Eagles trailing, 17-16, that all changed.

McCoy took a pitch from Vick, got a great kickout block from left tackle Jason Peters and bolted 50 yards for the touchdown that gave the Eagles sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

McCoy would add a 40-yard run on the Eagles' next possession and finish with 111 yards on 14 carries. It was his first 100-yard rushing performance since Week 2 when he rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries in a 35-32 win over the Lions.

The touchdown was McCoy's first since a 29-yard score in a Week 5 win over San Francisco and only his second score his three-TD performance against the Lions.

Last night, he also added five catches for 29 yards and already has 51 catches.

His game-winning score came very close to not happening. The Giants almost got to Vick before he was able to execute the pitch to McCoy, and Giants right end Osi Umenyiora missed by a whisker of getting a hand on the pitch.

But it got to McCoy, who got to the outside, took advantage of a great block by Peters on Giants safety Deon Grant. McCoy used his speed after that, breaking away from the rest of the Giants defenders that were chasing him.

"We practiced that play this week," McCoy said. "It worked to perfection. The line did a great job of selling it inside, Jason gave me a great block and I took off."

To that point, the Eagles really hadn't had much success running the ball on the Giants. Just 51 yards on 17 carries, to be exact. And Vick had 34 of those 51 yards. McCoy, as was already mentioned, had managed only 13 yards on eight carries.

"You just have to stay with it and keep pounding away," McCoy said. "Eventually, you're going to bust one. That's what happened tonight. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. A great defense like that, we knew it was going to be a late-game type of thing. We just stayed patient and knew it was going to come."

Thanks to McCoy's 50- and 40-yard runs, the Eagles finished with 146 yards on 26 carries.

"We battled, man," McCoy said. "We played four quarters of football."

Eagles coach Andy Reid said he never really considered punting the ball away on fourth-and-1, even though he still had two timeouts to play with and his defense had done a very good job of holding the Giants in check.

Both he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg felt confident that the play would work.

"They had been zero-blitzing," Reid said. "We had that toss in. I thought we could hit if they came with a zero blitz."

They did. They almost blew it up, but the athletic Vick managed to get the pitch to McCoy.

"McCoy hit that son of a gun like no other," Reid said.

Did you notice?

Did you notice?

-- Ellis Hobbs, active for the first time in three games, opened the game as the Eagles' kickoff returner, but left with a neck injury after taking a hit from the Giants' Dave Tollefson on the opening kickoff of the second half. Eldra Buckley handled kickoff returns the rest of the game.

-- Tight end Clay Harbor was activated for the second straight game, in place of Garrett Mills.

-- The Giants used their "elephant" package, featuring six offensive linemen, quite a bit last night.

-- The Giants ran the ball on four of their first six offensive plays on their first two possessions. They gained 2 yards on those four running plays.

-- The nice block by DeSean Jackson on cornerback Corey Webster on Michael Vick's 4-yard first-quarter touchdown run.

-- The Eagles used a three-wide receiver, two-tight-end set on their second possession where they lined up tight end Clay Harbor in the backfield as a blocker. He gave Vick enough time to hit Jeremy Maclin for a 10-yard completion.

-- Michael Vick overthrew a wide-open Clay Harbor on the Eagles' first touchdown drive.

-- The nice tackle by defensive back Colt Anderson on Giants kickoff return man Will Blackmon on the kickoff right after Vick's touchdown run.

-- The hold that Giants offensive lineman Will Beatty got away with on Trent Cole late in the first quarter. It gave Eli Manning enough time to hit Hakeem Nicks with a 15-yard completion. On the very next play, Shawn Andrews was called for a hold against Antonio Dixon. Andrews pretty much tackled Dixon.

-- Trent Cole plowed through three different blockers, including Andrews, to make a tackle on Brandon Jacobs late in the first quarter.

-- Jason Avant, perhaps the Eagles' most sure-handed receiver, dropped an easy pass in the end zone late in the second quarter after the Eagles got the ball on the Giants' 13-yard line following Asante Samuel's sixth interception of the season.

-- Asante Samuel's big hit on Derek Hagan late in the second quarter. Hagan was Eli Manning's hot read on a blitz and Samuel leveled him as soon as he caught the pass. But he was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play.

-- The costly clipping penalty on Todd Herremans late in the second quarter when the Eagles had a first down on the Giants' 15. They had to settle for a David Akers field-goal try, but that was blocked when Terrell Thomas beat King Dunlap off the edge.

By the numbers

-- LeSen McCoy has just one rushing touchdown in the last five games.

-- The Eagles failed to score a touchdown on their first possession for just the second time in the last six games.

-- The Eagles have outscored opponents in the first quarter this season, 86-28.

-- Asante Samuel's second-quarter interception ran the Eagles defense's streak of consecutive games with at least one interception to 13, dating to last season.

-- Prior to last night, tight end Brent Celek had been targeted 48 times this season and had just 23 receptions. Through 10 games last season, he was targeted 71 times and had 50 catches.

-- DeSean Jackson has seven receptions of 40-plus yards in the first nine games. Jeremy Maclin has four.

-- David Akers had gone 57 field-goal attempts without having one blocked before the Giants' Terrell Thomas blocked his 42-yard attempt late in the second quarter.

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