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Paul Domowitch: Between the tackles: Weaver gets into the act

One number tells you all you need to know about the role of the fullback in the Eagles' running game under Andy Reid.

One number tells you all you need to know about the role of the fullback in the Eagles' running game under Andy Reid.

The number is 59, which is the total number of rushing attempts by Eagles fullbacks in Reid's first 10 seasons as the team's head coach.

"I knew what I was walking into when I signed [as a free agent in March]," said Leonard Weaver. "I expected to come in and run-block for the most part. Maybe catch the ball a little bit. Maybe run a little bit. But mostly run-block."

That's pretty much what Weaver did in the Eagles' first six games. Caught the ball a little bit (seven catches). Ran the ball a little bit (just four rushing attempts). But mostly served as a lead-blocker for running backs Brian Westbrook and rookie LeSean McCoy.

But with Westbrook unable to play against the Giants because of the lingering effects from the knocked-cold concussion he suffered in last week's win over the Redskins, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg decided to use Weaver a little differently.

With rookie running back LeSean McCoy still trying to master the art of pass-protection and blitz pickup, Reid and Mornhinweg replaced the kid with Weaver in a lot of their three-wide-receiver, one-back sets. Even more significantly, though, they let their 6-foot, 250-pound fullback share the ball-carrying load with McCoy against the Giants.

Weaver rushed for a career-high 75 yards on eight carries in the Eagles' 40-17 win. Kick-started the victory with a 41-yard touchdown run just a minute-and-a-half into the game.

"We really weren't sure about Brian this week,'' Reid said. "As the week went on, one day he was feeling pretty good, but then he'd wake up and he wasn't feeling good. So we got Weaver ready just in case. We thought we could mix it up a little bit [with Weaver and McCoy] if Brian wasn't able to go."

They mixed it up very well. McCoy had his best game since his 20-carry, 84-yard Week 3 rushing effort against Kansas City, gashing the Giants for 82 yards on 11 carries. Sixty-six of those 82 yards came on an early fourth-quarter touchdown run that capped off the Eagles' biggest offensive assault of the season.

"I was proud of both Leonard and LeSean and not [just] for their running, but for their blocking," Mornhinweg said. "They did a heck of a job, both of them.

"Leonard has skill running with the football. We probably should've used him a little bit more before this."

Weaver's eight rushing attempts were just five fewer than the most carries in a season by a fullback in the Reid era (13 by Cecil Martin in 2000).

"It was a shock at first," said Weaver, who had 63 rushing attempts the last two seasons with Seattle. "But it felt good to know that Andy Reid and Marty trust me enough to give it to me.

"I got an opportunity to show what I can do. But I don't know that things are going to change dramatically. If they want me to carry [the ball], I'll carry it. If they want me to block, I'll block. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do."

McCoy had struggled, since the Kansas City game. He had averaged just 2.56 yards per carry in the last three games. But a bigger concern for Reid and Mornhinweg was how he would hold up as a blocker against the Giants' vicious pass-rush.

Which is why they decided to use Weaver a lot in many of their one-back sets. Five of Weaver's runs came in three-wide receiver, one-back, one-tight end formations. The other three, including his 41-yard touchdown run and a 17-yard run in the third quarter, came in two-wide receiver, one-back, two-tight end sets.

"[The touchdown run] was designed to go to the right and we switched it to the left,'' Weaver said. "[Left guard Todd] Herremans and [center Jamaal] Jackson opened a big hole and I got a great block downfield from [wide receiver Jeremy] Maclin. It was just off to the races."

The Eagles finished with 180 rushing yards, which was their highest total since racking up 185 in their Week 1 win over Carolina.

"When you lose a guy as dynamic as Brian, you have to share the wealth, and that put a lot of pressure on McCoy as a rookie to fill his shoes," said quarterback Donovan McNabb. "That's just not fair to him and just not fair to the offense."

With Westbrook expected back for next week's game against the Cowboys, Weaver likely will return to his primary job as a lead-blocker.

"Maybe we'll give it to him a couple more times," Reid said.

Weaver said he didn't go into the game expecting to carry the ball as much as he did.

"I didn't really practice many runs last week,'' he said. "I did my normal role, which was fullback and special teams. It was kind of a little surprise [to carry the ball eight times]. But we came in and got the job done."

Thumbs down

To DeSean Jackson, for running out of bounds on his 30-yard punt return at the end of the first half. I'm not trying to pick on a guy who has quickly established himself as one of the game's most lethal offensive weapons. But with no time left on the clock, you don't run out of bounds. I'm not big on the live-to-fight-another-day philosophy.

Did you notice?

-- The holding penalty Brent Celek got away with on Leonard Weaver's 41-yard, first-quarter touchdown run. Celek pinned Giants defensive end Justin Tuck's left arm, preventing him from wrapping up Weaver.

-- Quintin Mikell had two potential interceptions go in and out of his hands on the Giants' second possession.

-- Donovan McNabb threw just six incompletions (in 23 attempts), and four of those were tipped or batted down by defenders. McNabb has had several passes batted at the line of scrimmage this year. Some have been his fault, but many have been the fault of his line, which doesn't do a very good job of forcing pass-rushers to get their arms down.

-- The excellent punt coverage by Joselio Hanson and Quintin Demps on Sav Rocca's booming, 57-yard punt in the second quarter. They got down the field fast and held the Giants' Domenik Hixon to a 2-yard return that pinned the Giants on their own 11-yard line.

-- The Eagles continue to have problems against opposing tight ends. Kevin Boss had two big catches on the Giants' second-quarter touchdown drive. He beat safety Sean Jones on a 22-yard catch-and-run on a third-and-6 at the Giant 15. Boss later beat Mikell and linebacker Moise Fokou, who was subbing for injured Chris Gocong, for an 18-yard TD grab. Boss finished with a team-high 70 receiving yards on just three catches.

-- Antonio Dixon, who saw quite a bit of action as part of the Eagles' defensive tackle rotation, registered his first NFL sack. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott likes to line up Dixon over the opposing center.

-- The impressive second-effort play by Brent Celek on a fourth-quarter catch on a third-and-12 play. He caught the ball about 5 yards off the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle by Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas and picked up the first down. Celek finished with four catches for 61 yards and a TD, his third of the season.

By the numbers

-- Of the Eagles' 20 touchdown drives this season, just three have been longer than six plays. They had five TD drives yesterday. The longest one was four plays. Two were three plays, one was two plays and another was one play.

-- The Eagles have won three in a row against the Giants. It's their longest win streak against them since 2003-04, when they beat them four straight times.

-- Donovan McNabb has thrown just two interceptions in his last 10 regular-season games (304 attempts). He has thrown just one pick in 133 attempts this season.

-- Since 2005, the Eagles are just 11-15 against NFC East teams.

-- With two more interceptions, the Eagles already have picked off 14 passes this season. That's just one fewer than they had all of last season. The most interceptions in a season by the defense during the Andy Reid era: 28 in 1999.

-- For the fourth time in seven games, the Eagles scored on their first possession.

-- The Eagles have scored 70 points off of 21 takeaways this season.

-- In their last five games, the Eagles have run the ball 54 times and passed it 85 times in the first half, and run it 59 times and passed it 70 in the second half.

-- The Eagles, who had converted just one of 22 third-down opportunities of 10 yards or more in their first six games, converted three of four against the Giants. They were 2-for-2 on third downs of 2 yards or less. For the season, they are 12-for-15 on third downs of 2 yards or less.

-- DeSean Jackson already has six 40-plus yard receptions this season, including four for touchdowns.

-- Yesterday's 23-point win was the Eagles' largest victory margin over the Giants in the Andy Reid era. It surpassed their 21-point win (27-6) on Nov. 21, 2004.

-- This is the first time the Eagles have won their first two division games of the season since 2004, when they went 6-0 in the NFC East and made it to the Super Bowl.

-- For the first time this season, Trent Cole didn't have at least a share of a quarterback sack. He did have two hurries, though.

-- Ahmad Bradshaw's 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the first rushing TD allowed by the Eagles in the last five games.

-- The Giants were just the second team to rush for more than 120 yards against the Eagles this season. They finished with 141 on 32 carries. The Saints rushed for 133 yards against them in Week 2.

-- McNabb's third-quarter fumble was the offense's first turnover since the fourth quarter of the Chiefs game in Week 3. They went 46 possessions without a giveaway. The Eagles have just eight turnovers this season, none in the first half of games.

-- LeSean McCoy's 66-yard touchdown run was the longest scoring run by an Eagles rookie since Herman Hunter's 74-yard TD run on Nov. 24, 1985.

-- McCoy and Leonard Weaver, who had a 41-yard touchdown run, became the first Eagles players in history to have 40-plus-yard rushing TDs in the same game.

Making our grades

Paul Domowitch's report card on the Eagles-Giants game.


No Brian Westbrook? No problem. LeSean McCoy had a 66-yard touchdown run and Leonard Weaver had a 41-yard score as the Eagles recorded their highest rushing total (180) since Week 1.

Grade: A


Donovan McNabb came out of his two-game funk in a big way, throwing three touchdown passes, just six incompletions in 23 attempts and averaging 10.4 yards per attempt. DeSean Jackson notched his fourth 50-plus yard TD catch of the season.

Grade: A-plus


The Eagles' front seven did an excellent job of neutralizing the Giants' ground game, holding Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to 3.5 yards per carry through the first three quarters.

Grade: A-minus


The Eagles' opportunistic defense intercepted Eli Manning twice in the first half and the offense turned both into TDs. Manning completed just 20 of 39 passes and was held to 5.7 yards per attempt.

Grade: A-minus


Eagles' return game was very productive. KR Ellis Hobbs averaged 29.3 yards per return and PR DeSean Jackson had a 30-yard return. P Sav Rocca and the coverage units did an excellent job of shutting down Domenik Hixon.

Grade: A


The Eagles' offensive line wasn't perfect, but it outplayed the Giants' vaunted front four, allowing just two sacks. For the sixth time in seven games, the defense held its opponent to 17 points or less and ran its season takeaway total to 21 with three more.

Grade: A