Didinger: 'You gotta stay with LeSean McCoy'
LeSean McCoy is the first Eagle to win the rushing title since Steve Van Buren in 1949. (USA Today Images)
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When LeSean McCoy had his huge 2011 season, leading the NFL with 20 touchdowns, rushing for over 1,300 yards and earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro status as a 23-year-old, he never did get to enjoy it.
Not after the Eagles opened the season 4-8, finished an out-of-the-money 8-8, never competed for a playoff berth and missed the postseason for only the third time under head coach Andy Reid.
That’s all changed.
This year, McCoy had an even bigger year, and this time it meant the world to him.
Because this year, all the yards, stats, records and honors didn’t go to waste.
McCoy locked up the NFL rushing title and broke the franchise single-season rushing and yards-from-scrimmage records Sunday night in the Eagles’ 24-22 win over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
The win propelled the Eagles back into the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
“It means a lot,” McCoy said. “With the stats and the record, none of that stuff means anything if we don’t win [Sunday]. That was the most important thing.
“None of this stuff matters if you don’t win and get to the playoffs, because I’ve been there, having a good year and then you go home, and it’s no fun. At all.
“I’m not ready to go home. Our season’s starting again, and we want to finish it off the right way.”
McCoy ran 23 times for 131 yards -- 80 yards after halftime -- to finish the season with 1,607 rushing yards, 95 more than the previous franchise record of 1,512 by Wilbert Montgomery in 1979.
His 2,146 yards from scrimmage (rushing plus receiving) broke the franchise record of 2,104 set in 2007 by Brian Westbrook.
Finally, McCoy’s 1,607 yards wound up 268 yards more than Matt Forte, making McCoy the first Eagle to lead the NFL in rushing since Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949.
McCoy became the 13th player in NFL history with 1,600 rushing yards and 50 receptions in a season.
“I feel like he is one of the best backs in the NFL,” DeSean Jackson said. “He has already had a phenomenal year. Me and him, we feel like we are a big tandem. Guys want to take us away in the pass game, he is going to make things happen in the run game.”
The 131-yard game was McCoy’s franchise-record sixth this year with 130 or more yards. Only 13 players in NFL history have had more in a season.
“The big guys up front played very well,” McCoy said. “I didn’t really play as well as I thought I could. I think as an offense we didn’t, but we got the job done.
“Every game’s not going to be perfect, not going to be pretty, not going to be a 50-point game. But we dug deep. Each week, Coach Kelly’s always telling us, 'Hey, there’s going to be a time when your heart’s going to be checked. Late in the game, you’ve got to make a play,’ and that’s what we did today. Today was exactly an example of a team win.”
Now that the final numbers are all tallied up, it’s pretty clear McCoy was so much better than any other running back this year.
In addition to easily leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage and rushing yards, his 5.2 per-carry average is the highest in 48 years by an Eagles back averaging 10 carries per game and best in the league by a back with at least 200 attempts.
He was also fifth in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns, and he led the NFL in carries and in touches.
The conversation about who’s the best back in the NFL has been a short one for a few years now.
But McCoy is certainly making a case for himself.
“I think overall, AP’s probably the best back because he’s been doing it for so long,” McCoy said. “Just being so consistent in numbers and in stats.
“But I think I’m the most complete, overall back for running the ball, catching and blocking. I think so.”