The Eagles’ streak of holding running backs to fewer than 100 yards has come to an end.
During the team’s 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Nick Chubb surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark and shattered a 363-day streak for the Eagles. Chubb, one of the best running backs in the NFL, ran for 114 yards on 20 attempts during a rainy, windy afternoon in Cleveland that led to both teams favoring their running games early.
The last time the Birds struggled this much against a running back was against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12 last season, when Rashaad Penny ran for 129 yards.
The majority of Chubb’s damage came on one play, when he broke free for 54 yards into the red zone, setting up a Browns’ scoring drive that left the Eagles trailing by nine points midway through the fourth quarter. The Eagles held Chubb and his backfield mate Kareem Hunt in check for most of the game, but Chubb still managed to dominate at times in the later stages.
“They just made a play,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “When I think about the big one that Chubb had, we missed a tackle, he made a heck of a play. We knew both of those backs were really good and I felt like we were coming, but we were missing some tackles and [we] were getting leaky, just a little bit. We know we can’t do that.”
As the streak of holding running backs under 100 yards would suggest, the Eagles’ defense has typically been stingy against the run, particularly against conventional running-back rushes. This season, teams have had more success with quarterback and wide receiver runs than they’ve had with their running backs, but Chubb proved too dynamic during a handful of pivotal moments.
On the 54-yarder, he shed a handful of tackles, including a vicious stiff arm, which sent Joe Ostman to the ground. The Browns’ running back outran Rodney McLeod to the outside edge and later broke free from Avonte Maddox’s grips.
“I look at that long run that Chubb had,” McLeod said. “I missed that tackle, I pride myself on being a good tackler.”
Chubb’s big run wasn’t the only time the Browns broke off chunk plays on the Eagles defense. The Eagles gave up several big passing gains to a Cleveland offense that isn’t known for passing prowess.
Avonte Maddox was caught out of position on the Browns’ second offensive series and gave up a 43-yard gain to Rashard Higgins. A coverage breakdown by Jalen Mills later in the game led to a 42-yard catch by KhaDarel Hodge, which led to a Browns field goal. Mayfield finished the game with 12 completions on 22 passes for 204 yards.
McLeod said the Eagles’ secondary was caught out of position at times because there was so much attention being placed on stopping the run.
“I think when you have an effective run game, even though I don’t think it was as effective today, you still have to respect it,” McLeod said. “Those running backs are very talented and so I think that’s all that was. Us putting an emphasis on the run game, being overly aggressive, and them taking advantage of that and they were able to get a couple big plays.”