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Westbrook: O-line 'won this football game'
Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis celebrate Chris Polk's 38-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.The Eagles piled up 299 rushing yards against the Lions, as LeSean McCoy broke the franchise's single-game record record with 217. (USA Today Images)
Jason Kelce knew the Eagles had to forget about the fancy stuff.
They came in with a certain game plan, and as the snow piled up at the Linc, they had to pare down the playbook.
"We had a lot of plays in the game plan to attack their scheme and attack a lot of their explosion and stuff like that," Kelce said Sunday after the Eagles' 34-20 victory over the Lions (see story).
"The snow took away all the screens that we had in. We had some draws that we ran a little bit in the first half that still actually got some good yards, but it wasn't hitting the right way. It was just a sloppy way to get some good yards. ... I think the more offensive possessions we got, the more we were realizing that, let's just pound this out."
Pound it out against the league's third-ranked rushing defense (82.7 yards per game) that's anchored by two über-tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley?
Kelce, Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis knew they had to handle Suh and Fairley to give the Eagles a chance to win.
"If our team is going to be successful, it really came down to us three getting it done against those two," Kelce said. "Those two are pretty much the heart and soul of that defense."
If the Eagles kept running the ball, Kelce had a feeling those two would crack.
"I think those guys really excel at rushing the passer," Kelce said. "Fairley's a good run stopper for the most part, but I don't think they want to defend the run. I think they want to get sacks. That's their main deal. When we were able to get combination blocks on them, I felt like we were able to get movement.
"Those guys at times were obviously very challenging. They still [got] some pressures on Nick and got us off-kilter in some pass plays, but in the run game, that's where we excel. So I felt like we had the upper hand when we had those plays called."
In the first half, the Eagles had just 55 yards rushing. They averaged 3.1 per carry with a long of 14.
In the second half, they piled up 244 yards. They averaged 8.7 per and shredded the Lions' D-line.
"I think whenever there are conditions like that, especially in the trenches, a lot of it comes down to will," Kelce said.
The Eagles reeled off runs of 40, 57, 38 and 26 yards. Three of them were TDs -- two by LeSean McCoy (see story) and another by Chris Polk. All were in the fourth quarter.
And there was nothing fancy about them. None of this running around the outside and turning the corner stuff. No options or pitches. Just north-south. Take the handoff, find a gap in the line and run through it.
Polk refused to take credit for his TD. He ran straight up the gut through a gaping hole.
"I give that credit all to the O-linemen," he said. "I wasn't even touched. It was so wide open."
The Eagles finished with 299 yards on the ground, their fourth-highest total since 1950 and their most since they had 306 in the 2000 season opener at Dallas (aka the Pickle Juice Game).
"I think it just kind of became a shoving match up front," Herremans said. "Our backs did a really good job of setting up the blocks and just getting north.
"We figured it's too tough to cut. You're not going to be able to run outside very much, because then you have to change and try to get north. ... So I think the best medicine for that was just run downhill and maybe make a one-step cut."
Or maybe a hurdle and a couple jukes.
McCoy on his first touchdown broke though the line, leapt over one Lion and ran through another before reaching the pylon. On the 26-yarder, he shook a pair of defenders, the second flailing at nothing but air.
Shady finished with a team-record 217 yards rushing.on 29 attempts, averaging 7.5 per.
"That's the best running back in the league right there," Kelce said. "It's a good thing we've got him on our side."