Eagles' McCoy makes statement in Redskins game

Posted: October 17, 2011

LANDOVER, Md. - Known for his fourth-quarter knockouts, LeSean McCoy showed that he can end a bout with a series of jabs.

The running back's 28 carries for 126 yards in the Eagles' 20-13 grind-it-out win over the Redskins on Sunday was further proof that McCoy has entered elite status in the NFL.

In his first two seasons as a pro, McCoy dazzled with his shifty runs and his gut-punch big-gainers that sealed victories. But his success, in some quarters, was seen as a product of the Eagles' pass-heavy offense. Run defenses were lulled to sleep by Andy Reid's air attack.

But McCoy was never really given the opportunity to show that he could shoulder the load for a full 60 minutes. Prior to this season, he never had more than 21 carries in a game. Even the last two weeks before the Redskins game, he only had a total of 20 totes.

Reid may be stubborn when it comes to his run-pass ratio, but he knows when he's got a fighter in his backfield. Many moons ago, Brian Westbrook was the underutilized featured back in Reid's ground game. But the neglect eventually subsided.

McCoy on Sunday had 17 carries alone in the first half and finished with a career-high 28 - not that that was the plan going in.

"In the game plan there really [weren't] a lot of runs," McCoy said. "We were going to run it a little bit but not as much as happened today."

But the Eagles needed tough yards from their third-year tailback, and McCoy was able to provide them. There were, of course, the 11-yard and 7-yard gains late in the fourth quarter as the Eagles drained the clock. But McCoy at least temporarily solved the goal-line problems with a 1-yard touchdown run on third down in the second quarter.

"I think Andy, he's setting the tone with his attitude," McCoy said. "We're going to play physical. We're going to go for it on fourth downs. On third down, we're going to be tough [with] running plays. No passes. No tricky stuff."

McCoy would never say it, but the trick plays inside the 5-yard line bothered him. They would bother any tailback who wants to be known as reliable. McCoy hasn't always taken the straight route, and it has hurt the Eagles. (See his fourth-down run against the New York Giants last month.)

"He's a great cutback runner," Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said.

Sure, McCoy continues to zig and zag his way out of trouble, but he can also lower his shoulders and power ahead if needed. He has eclipsed the century-mark in yards six times in a game in his career, and almost every one of those outings featured a run of more than 45 yards.

Against the Giants, he set a then-career high with 24 carries, the longest covering 21 yards. He matched that 21-yard run with another against the Redskins, but McCoy averaged only 4.5 yards a try on Sunday.

McCoy said he felt like he was snubbed last season when he finished fourth in the league in yards from scrimmage and didn't get voted into the Pro Bowl. Westbrook was often overlooked as well in that regard because hybrid tailbacks for some reason don't garner as much attention as power running backs.

But with more touches on the ground McCoy is starting to be mentioned in the same breath as the Adrian Petersons and the Chris Johnsons. He's already rushed for 569 yards and has six touchdowns on the ground. He's on pace to run for 1,517 yards, which would eclipse Wilbert Montgomery's franchise mark of 1,512 for a season.

"There's a lot more room for improvement, and I know that," McCoy said. "I'm already humble enough. I just got to stick with it, keep working, because I watch tape, and I miss plays and I know it. If I want to be the best . . . I got to make those plays."

McCoy has time, even if the life span for running backs is short. Sometimes you forget he's still only 23. But there are immature moments like when he confronted a reporter last week about disparaging words that were written in a chat more than a year ago.

On the field, you can see the maturity such as when McCoy stayed inbounds after he thought he ran for the game-clinching first down. The younger McCoy goofed a few times in late-game clock management situations.

"I felt like it was a good play on my part as far as getting the first down, staying in bounds, keeping the clock rolling," McCoy said.

The only problem was that he was ruled short of the first down. McCoy initially thought he had enough and in his youthful exuberance playfully punched Reid in the stomach.

"He got a good one," Reid said. "But I don't really care. He can do anything he wants today - handshake, poke to the chest."

The jab worked just fine on Sunday.

McCoy On the Run

   Eagles running back LeSean McCoy scored his sixth rushing touchdown and gained 126 rushing yards on a career-high 28 carries against the Redskins. Here is how McCoy has fared on the ground so far this season:

Date/Opponent         Carries   Yards Avg. Longest    TDs

 Sunday at Redskins    28      126      4.5      21         1

Oct. 9 at Bills          11       80      7.3      32         1

Oct. 2 vs. 49ers       9       18      2.0       5         0

Sept. 25 vs. Giants    24      128      5.3      21         1

Sept. 18 at Falcons    18       95      5.3      23         2

Sept. 11 at Rams       15      122      8.1      49         1

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.


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