Jordan Howard pulled a throwback Brian Dawkins sweater over his head, turned to face the cameras, and broke from the “just another game” script he’d stuck to earlier this week.
The Eagles running back was going up against the Chicago Bears, the team he spent his first three seasons with before Chicago traded him for a late-round draft pick.
Going into the game, Howard downplayed the meaning of playing his former team, saying it was just like any other week. But, after the Eagles’ 22-14 win over the Bears, Howard conceded there were some noticeable differences.
“I did a little bit more talking than I usually do,” Howard said. “Just a little back and forth with the guys, but everything else was normal. It was definitely a little strange, because I didn’t really go up against them that much in practice, they never really tackled me, so it was strange.”
Howard represented himself well against his former team on Sunday, rushing for 82 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. Howard gained more yards on the ground than the Bears’ entire rushing attack, which managed just 62 yards, mostly from running back David Montgomery and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Howard’s 13-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a 19-0 lead in the third quarter. He ran through a gaping hole created by the Eagles offensive line, which dominated the Bears’ defensive front.
“I saw a big hole, I just tried to hit it as fast as I could,” Howard said. " ... The line has been doing a great job all season, but they’ve just been taking it to another level."
Clearly well-studied on his 2000s Eagles history, Howard said he almost made a mistake akin to DeSean Jackson’s goal-line fumble in 2008.
“I almost pulled a D-Jack,” Howard said. “I almost tossed the ball too early. I’m glad I crossed the line before I threw it back, but it was great.”
Howard said there wasn’t any motivation to prove the Bears’ front office wrong.
“I don’t need any validation from anybody,” Howard said. “Whatever they do, I don’t worry about that. I’m here now, so there’s nothing for me to worry about."
He may not have been looking to show the Eagles that they got a bargain, but that’s exactly what he did. He followed up a 96-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills with Sunday’s showing against the Bears.
The Eagles have begun leaning on him more recently, and he’s rewarded them with his productive, forward-falling running style. Howard is averaging 4.4 yard per attempt, and came into Sunday getting 2.6 yards after contact per attempt.
By comparison, Montgomery — a first-round pick in last year’s draft — is averaging 3.6 yards per attempt and the Bears offense has struggled.
Howard missed part of the Eagles’ final drive, and said he got banged up late, but wouldn’t say what was ailing him. He’ll have some time off, though, as the Eagles go into their bye week.
“I feel like we’re in a great spot, coming off two wins,” Howard said. “We get to rest up, get some guys healthy. We can get on a roll.”