Eagles' McCoy lands Sunday punches

Posted: October 17, 2011

LANDOVER, Md. - The punch to the stomach of Andy Reid was a bit premature.

Still, you couldn't really blame running back LeSean McCoy.

The Eagles had taken so many painful shots to the gut over the previous 4 weeks that McCoy felt a little celebratory after picking up what he thought was a first down that was going to allow the Birds to run out the clock and end their four-game losing streak.

But the officials ruled McCoy had come up inches short, and when replay couldn't confirm a different spot, the Eagles had third-and-inches at the 2-minute warning.

No worries this time, as Michael Vick gained the first down on a quarterback sneak.

And with the Redskins having no timeouts remaining, the Birds ran out the clock in a desperately needed, 20-13 victory.

"He knocked the wind out of me," Reid said of McCoy's playful punch. "But I don't really care. The way [McCoy] played today, he can do whatever he wants.

"I appreciated the effort. I thought he had that first down."

We're not going to jump too far ahead. The Eagles are 2-4 and still in a mode of desperation that they'll likely stay in for the rest of the season. But they won a game, and after the last 4 weeks that was the only requirement.

Save the season - any way.

On this occasion, it finally involved the full utilization of McCoy as a big-time feature back who again proved he is capable of carrying the load whenever the Eagles' coaches are inclined to ask that of him.

McCoy got a career-high 28 carries and churned out 126 hard yards. He scored the Eagles' second touchdown on a goal-line run, something this team has struggled with all season. With the 1-yard run, McCoy became the first Eagle to score a touchdown in six consecutive games since Ricky Watters in 1995, and the first to do it to start a season.

"The runs were cool, but the main thing is we got a win," McCoy said. "It's been a while since we've won some games.

"In the game plan there really weren't a lot of runs. We were going to run a little bit but not as much as what happened today. That was a little different, but we found a way to get the job done."

Most impressive about McCoy's day was the running he did late in the fourth quarter when the Eagles were again sweating with a lead in peril. The Eagles hadn't scored in the second half, and Washington had pulled to within a touchdown with just under 3 minutes remaining.

They'd been in a similar place in three of those four losses.

This time, however, McCoy totaled 18 yards on two carries. That forced the Redskins to burn their final two timeouts. Then, on a second-and-3 with 2:26 left, McCoy swept around the left end and headed for the first-down marker. Not only did it look like he had the first down, but he also stayed in bounds to keep the clock running.

That's when McCoy, who was tackled right at Reid's feet, jumped up and punched the coach.

"I kind of punched him when I thought I had the first down," McCoy said. "There's a lot of cushion there. I thought he was tougher than that.

"Lately we haven't been finishing games. We haven't been playing Eagles football. This shows the fight we have. I think late in a game, to ice it like that says a lot about us."

McCoy's reaction was that of a young player who knows he has potential but also knows he needs to keep improving to become a complete back.

He knows he still makes mistakes. He made some yesterday.

"To be honest, there are a lot of plays I've left on the field," said McCoy, who has 569 yards on 105 carries. "I had a walk-in touchdown today - walk-in - on a pass and I dropped the ball. I know I have good hands, but I had to focus more.

"It's little stuff. I know there is a lot of room for improvement. I watch tape and I miss plays and I know it. If I want to be the best, live up to whatever is going on, I've got to make those plays. I'm a work in progress. I'm being asked to do everything, and lately, I haven't been doing all of them. I keep working on it."

That's why McCoy was so excited about the run at the end. He thought he had done everything right.

Much like former Eagles star Brian Westbrook often did.

"He was the best back, and intelligent," McCoy said. "I'm trying to do all of the things in B-West's footsteps.

"Listen, I felt it was a good play on my part as far as getting the yards and staying in bounds to keep the clock rolling."


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smallwj@phillynews.com.

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