Paul Domowitch: Between the tackles: Eagles have found the real McCoy

LeSean McCoy celebrates after scoring first-quarter touchdown against Texans.
LeSean McCoy celebrates after scoring first-quarter touchdown against Texans.
Posted: December 03, 2010

He was the other running back in this football game. The one who wasn't leading the league in rushing. The one who wasn't leading the league in yards from scrimmage. The one who didn't come out of practice-squad nowhere.

He is LeSean McCoy. He isn't Arian Foster. And if the Houston Texans called the Eagles today and asked them if they'd have any interest in a straight-up trade after the season, coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Long would need about a half-second to consider it and tell them thanks but no thanks.

The Eagles' second-year running back outplayed Foster last night in the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Texans, just like he outplayed the Titans' Chris Johnson and the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs and the Falcons' Michael Turner and the 49ers' Frank Gore and just about every other running back the Eagles have faced this season.

Michael Vick is getting the national magazine covers and DeSean Jackson is getting all of the questions about his quest for a new contract. But the Eagles are 8-4 this morning every bit as much because of McCoy as Vick and Jackson.

For only the second time this season, McCoy recorded multiple touchdowns - one running and one receiving - in the much-needed win. He got an offense that has been pounding its head against the wall in the red zone off to a good start with scores on its first two possessions that gave the Eagles an early 14-3 lead and the confidence that they could move the ball on Houston. It was just the third time this season the Eagles have scored touchdowns on both of their first two possessions.

McCoy finished with 130 rushing and receiving yards on 20 touches. He rushed for 44 yards on 12 carries and had eight receptions for the second week in a row for 86 yards. He leads all NFL running backs in receptions with 67. He's on pace to finish with 89.

McCoy has been everything Reid had hoped he'd be when the Eagles selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. He's a perfect fit for Reid's offense the same way his predecessor, Brian Westbrook, was.

He's a guy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can move all over the formation. He's a guy who can run, who can catch, who can block. Just ask Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher about that last one. McCoy stoned him on a blitz last week in the Bears' 31-26 win.

Much of McCoy's receiving success this season has come on screens, and he hit another big one early, going 16 yards on the Eagles' third play from scrimmage. He capped off the game-opening, 11-play, 88-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown catch from Vick.

After a strange Wildcat play to Chad Hall barely got a yard and left the Eagles with a third-and-goal at the 1, Vick rolled to his left and hit a wide-open McCoy with a short toss for a score.

McCoy kick-started the next possession with a nifty 12-yard run, added a 13-yarder in the red zone, then took it in from 4 yards out to give the Eagles a 14-3 lead.

The Eagles, who had converted just two of 10 red-zone opportunities in the last two games, cashed in on four of six last night.

"This was a game we needed,'' McCoy said. "Coming off a tough loss, we needed it. Now we've got a chance to rest up and get ready for our final four games, and hopefully, the playoffs.''

Despite McCoy's first-half heroics, it looked for a while like it wouldn't be enough. The Texans, who came into the game as the best second-half team in the league, put together two time-consuming, third-quarter scoring drives that ate up almost 13 minutes. When Foster bulldozed through a fatigued defense for a 3-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Texans a 24-20 lead, there weren't a lot of people at the Linc who liked the Eagles' chances.

But thanks to McCoy, Vick and Jackson, they came right back and took the lead for good with a six-play, 60-yard drive. McCoy had a 5-yard run to open the drive, then later picked up 9 yards on a dump-off from Vick that gave the Eagles the ball at the 2. Vick took it in from there to put the Eagles up, 27-24.

The Eagles would score once more on their next possession, and again, McCoy was a key, taking another screen from Vick and running and cutting through the Houston defense for a 40-yard gain to the 29-yard line. Vick eventually would use a play-action fake to McCoy to open things up for a 5-yard touchdown toss to fullback Owen Schmitt, putting the game on ice.

"LeSean ran the ball hard and had some nice runs for us,'' Reid said.

Did you notice

-- Max Jean-Gilles replaced Nick Cole at right guard early in the game.

-- Early on, the Eagles made sure to line up running back LeSean McCoy or a tight end on Texans left end Mario Williams' side much of the time.

-- The Eagles wasted little time getting the ball in DeSean Jackson's hands. On their first offensive play, they lined up in a two-wide receiver, one-running back, two-tight end set to give Michael Vick time, and he hit a wide-open Jackson down the middle of the field for a 30-yard gain.

-- Houston strong safety Bernard Pollard's well-out-of-bounds tackle on Jerome Harrison on a second-quarter run. You may recall that Pollard was the guy who took out Tom Brady's knees a couple of years ago.

-- Clock-management alert: The Eagles used their first two first-half timeouts with 12:16 and 10:26 left in the second quarter.

-- Dimitri Patterson and Nate Allen both bit on a double move by Houston's Andre Johnson on his 42-yard catch in the second quarter.

-- Eagles left end Brandon Graham broke containment and allowed Matt Schaub to get outside and extend the play on his 8-yard, second-quarter touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones.

-- Eagles used a ton of two-tight end sets against the Texans. Once, they even lined up backup tight end Clay Harbor as the fullback in an "I" set with Chad Hall.

-- Vick came close to getting a second-quarter sideline pass to DeSean Jackson picked off and returned for a touchdown by cornerback Glover Quin. Fortunately for the Eagles quarterback, his pass sailed over Quin's head.

-- Texans defensive end Antonio Smith beat tight end Brent Celek and hammered Vick in the side with a helmet shot late in the second quarter.

-- Celek dropped a pass at the goal line on a third-and-goal late in the first half, forcing the Eagles to settle for David Akers' second field goal.

By the numbers

-- The Eagles scored a touchdown on their first possession for the sixth time in 12 games, driving 88 yards on 11 plays. Their first possession numbers this season: 54 plays, 497 yards, 9.2 yards per play, 17 first downs, six touchdowns.

-- The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first two possessions for just the third time this season. Their season numbers on their first two possessions: 24 possessions, 130 plays, 970 yards, 7.5 yards per play, 42 first downs, 11 touchdowns, four field goals.

-- Before last night, the Eagles were 50-2 under Reid in games in which they scored 30-plus points, including 3-0 this season.

-- Last night's game was David Akers' 184th with the Eagles, the most in franchise history. He passed Brian Dawkins on the all-time list.

-- Akers recorded his 19th touchback of the season in the first half. Last year, he had 11.

-- The Eagles have held just four of their first 11 opponents to 17 points or less. Since 2000, the fewest times they've held teams under 18 points was six in '05.

-- After giving up two more touchdown passes, the Eagles have allowed 24 in 12 games. The franchise record for most touchdown passes allowed in a season is 29 (1967 and 1987).

-- The Eagles added to their league-leading interception total with another pick. They have 20 in 12 games.

-- The Eagles are 51-2 under Andy Reid in games in which they score 30 or more points, including 4-0 this season.

-- The Eagles are 4-1 since the bye week. Since 2006, they are 32-15-1 after the bye. Before the bye during that period, they are 14-14.

-- The Eagles are 3-0 in Thursday night games under Reid.

-- The Eagles used two-tight end sets on 13 of 39 offensive plays in the first half.

-- Michael Vick notched his sixth rushing touchdown of the season. His career-high for a season is eight in 2002.

-- Vick had a 103.3 passer rating. It was the fifth time this season he's had a 100-plus rating.

-- The Eagles have 36 touchdown drives in the first 12 games. Last year at this point, they had 31. Nineteen of those 36 TD drives have been seven plays or more. Through 12 games last season, they had just 10 TD drives of seven or more plays.

Domo's rankings

Last Week's Rankings in Parentheses)

1. Ravens, 8-3 (2)

2. Jets, 9-2 (3)

3. Patriots, 9-2 (4)

4. Saints, 8-3 (5)

5. Packers, 7-4 (1)

6. Steelers , 8-3 (8)

7. Falcons, 9-2 (10)

8. Bears, 8-3 (11)

9. *Eagles, 7-4 (6)

10. Giants, 7-4 (9)

11. Chargers, 6-5 (14)

12. Chiefs, 7-4 (13)

13. Colts, 7-5 (7)

14. Bucs, 7-4 (12)

15. Dolphins, 6-5 (17)

16. Rams, 5-6 (23)

17. *Texans, 5-6 (21)

18. Jaguars, 6-5 (19)

19. Browns, 4-7 (22)

20. Redskins, 5-6 (15)

21. 49ers, 4-7 (24)

22. Raiders, 5-6 (16)

23. Titans, 5-6 (18)

24. Cowboys, 3-8 (20)

25. Vikings, 3-8 (27)

26. Bills, 2-9 (29)

27. Seahawks, 5-6 (25)

28. Broncos, 3-8 (26)

29. Bengals, 2-9 (28)

30. Lions, 2-9 (30)

31. Cardinals, 3-8 (31)

32. Panthers, 1-10 (32)

*Yesterday's Game Not Included.

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