On night of offense, Eagles’ defense stands tall
12/30/2013 12:26 AM
12/30/2013 9:46 AM
It was a record-breaking kind of night for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
As a team, they set a franchise record for most net yards in a season after its 24-22 win over Dallas.
Running back LeSean McCoy etched his name in the record books, finishing the regular season with 1,607 rushing yards to lock up the NFL rushing title while breaking the Eagles’ franchise mark for most rushing yards in a single season, set by Wilbert Montgomery in 1979.
The only record that truly mattered to McCoy and the Eagles, though was the Eagles’ final season record of 10-6, which gave them the NFC East division title for the first time since 2010.
The Eagles advance to face the New Orleans Saints (11-5) in the NFC wild-card playoff game in Philadelphia at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.
“It is a great feeling. I was just telling some guys it has been some years since we have been in the playoffs. We had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of people counting us out. We are just excited about the opportunity to keep playing. Everyone before the game was like we aren’t ready to go home yet. That was the statement we made. The (Dallas) Cowboys played a great game to the end and we are just fortunate to get out of here with a win,” wide receiver DeSean Jackson said.
Despite all of the offensive fireworks, the Eagles’ defense was the difference maker, forcing three Dallas turnovers and holding DeMarco Murray to just 51 rushing yards on 17 attempts.
The Eagles’ secondary repeatedly gave Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton the cushion he sought, allowing the backup quarterback to throw for 358 yards and two touchdowns. But the defense made plays when it was necessary, intercepting Orton twice and forcing a fumble Murray fumble.
McCoy’s record-setting run came late in the second quarter on a brilliant 16-yard run, faking a defender to his right before making one of his signature cuts back upfield and being dragged down by J.J. Wilcox at the Dallas 45.
McCoy finished with 131 rushing yards on the night.
“It is great. I mean obviously LeSean is pretty fired up about it. I would be too. But at the end of the day, it is just another stat, just another thing for fans and media to harp on. The biggest thing is that we are 10-6, winners of the NFC East and now we get a shot at the Super Bowl,” center Jason Kelce said.
It was quite the Cinderella season, as well, for second-year quarterback Nick Foles, who spent the early part of the season as Michael Vick’s backup.
Foles completed 17 of 26 passes for 263 yards and two scores, finishing the season with the NFL’s top passer rating of 118, besting the Broncos’ Peyton Manning and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
Despite repeated late threats by the Cowboys’ offense, the Eagles never trailed, scoring on their first possession on a 47-yard field goal by Alex Henery.
Taking a 17-10 lead into the half, the Eagles never could pull away, giving up a touchdown and two field goals to Dallas in the final two quarters.
On the final drive, up 24-22 with 1:43 remaining in the clock, the Eagles’ defense rose to the occasion one last time, as cornerback Brandon Boykin intercepted an Orton pass intended for Miles Austin, sealing the win.
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