LeSean McCoy ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and broke the Eagles single-game franchise records for rushing yards in a game with 217 in the Eagles' 34-20 win over the Lions. (USA Today Images)
LeSean McCoy said he’s never played in anything remotely like this. Not at Archbishop McDevitt in Harrisburg, not at Pitt, not with the Eagles.
“Played all my games in Pennsylvania,” he said. “But this was the worst game I’ve played in weather-wise.”
Then he paused. And smiled a huge smile.
“And my best game, too.”
McCoy rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards on 29 carries Sunday, helping the Eagles come back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Lions, 34-20, Sunday at the Linc (see Instant Replay).
Eight inches of snow had fallen by the time the game ended and the field was a white blanket with treacherous footing (see story).
Didn’t stop McCoy.
“It was tough,” he said. “It was definitely tough. Normal footing and traction that we get from stopping and cutting, I couldn’t really plant like I usually plant. But the [offensive linemen] were giving me so much room.
“And it’s a mental thing. Obviously it’s going to be tough because it’s the snow and the weather, but you don’t think about it while you’re running. Only if you think about it, it sets you back a little bit.”
McCoy changed his cleats after warming up, going with a longer cleat to improve his traction, and he changed his running style as well, shelving his usual jitterbugging, cutback approach to become more of a straight-ahead runner as the game went on.
It paid off in a big way.
“People really don’t know,” McCoy said. “They just see the moves that I make, but I actually like to run between the tackles. It gives me so much different leverage. Do I want to go up the middle? Bring it outside? Reverse it? So I actually like to run in between the tackles. You see your holes.”
McCoy was 3 for 6 rushing in the first quarter, 13 for 54 in the first half and 18 for 72 through three quarters.
Then he went insane.
McCoy ran 40 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the fourth quarter, he went 57 yards for another TD on his third carry of the fourth quarter and he added a 26-yarder late.
McCoy had 137 rushing yards in the fourth quarter alone -- 129 of them in the first three minutes (see 10 observations).
The previous franchise record for rushing yards in a game was 205, set by Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949 against the Steelers at Shibe Park.
“He’s a Hall of Famer and definitely one of the best backs to play this game and obviously to play here in Philadelphia,” McCoy said.
“So it means a lot. I think records are made to be broken, and it’s been standing for so long. And he’s a guy, if you want to break a record, why not his?”
McCoy isn’t just the first back to go over 200 yards against the Lions this year.
He’s the first to go over 100.
“It was almost like, he was running out there, every step he took was on dry ground,” Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said. "It was unbelievable how he was able to shake guys, make guys miss in the open field.
“I’m sure those cleats are icy. And despite those conditions, he made those guys look like amateurs out there. He's a tremendous player. He’s a guy that's been doing it on a consistent basis for a long time, man. He’s one of the better running backs in the league, and for him to have that success out there the way he did in a snow game is ridiculous, man. It’s ridiculous. I’m in awe.”
McCoy entered the week as the NFL record holder with five career touchdown runs of 40 yards or more in the fourth quarter, and he added two more.
He now has seven. Nobody else has more than four.
He also joined Hall of Famer Marion Motley (1946), LeShon Johnson (1996) and Corey Dillon (2000) as only the fourth player in NFL history with two TDs of 40 yards or more in the same fourth quarter.
McCoy increased his season total to 1,305 rushing yards, just 207 off Wilbert Montgomery’s franchise record, set in 1979.
“I think what Shady was doing was being a little more patient at first and allowing the holes to develop and then hitting them fast,” guard Evan Mathis said.
“Once he gets to the second level, he was just being himself. He can make people miss and he has incredible vision.”
Keep in mind, McCoy piled up his 217 yards against the NFL’s No. 1 rush defense. The Lions had held six straight opponents to fewer than 60 rushing yards.
McCoy ran for more yards Sunday than the Lions had allowed in their last five games combined (186).
His 217 yards are third-most ever against the Lions, behind only O.J. Simpson of the Bills (273 in 1976) and Michael Turner of the Falcons (220 in 2008).
McCoy said once Nick Foles started hitting some passes in the second half, it really opened up the line of scrimmage for the running game.
“We took some shots deep that kind of set them back a little bit,” McCoy said. “The guys up front just gave me opportunities 1-on-1, just blowing guys off the ball.
“Everybody’s so intimidated and scared of their guys up front on Detroit. I felt the big guys on my team just took a challenge and stepped up. The whole week, all they talked about was running the ball and giving me different matchups 1-on-1.
“And not just myself, but all the backs we have, I think 1-on-1 matchups, we’re going to win.”