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Division and rushing titles for Eagles' McCoy

LeSean McCoy clinches the NFL rushing title with a virtuoso performance in an NFC East-clinching win at Dallas.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

ARLINGTON, Texas - O.J. Simpson won four NFL rushing titles in the 1970s with a Bills team that went 23-32-1 in those four seasons.

Barry Sanders won four rushing crowns with the Lions in the '90s, but made it to the playoffs just twice in those 4 years and the Lions never won more than nine games.

In 2007, Brian Westbrook's finest season - 1,333 rushing yards, 2,104 yards from scrimmage - went to waste in a disappointing, 8-8, playoff-less season.

Ditto 2 years ago when LeSean McCoy rushed for 1,309 yards and led the league in rushing touchdowns and the Eagles again finished on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

Not this year, though. McCoy won his first rushing title last night, but more importantly, his team is going to the playoffs.

Held to 55 yards on 18 carries by the Cowboys in a 17-3 loss in Week 7, McCoy notched his third 100-yard rushing performance in the last four games (27 carries, 131 yards) and seventh of the season in the Eagles', NFC East-clinching, 24-22 win.

McCoy won the rushing title going away, finishing with a franchise-record 1,607 yards, easily beating the Bears' Matt Forte, who finished with 1,339. It's the first time an Eagle has won the rushing title since Steve Van Buren in 1949.

McCoy also finished as the league's leader in yards from scrimmage. He caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles in the first quarter that gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead.

The Eagles own the league's top-rated ground game. Went into last night's game averaging 161.9 rushing yards per game. Had rushed for 280-plus yards in two of their previous three games - 289 against the Bears last week, 299 in the snow against the Lions 3 weeks ago.

But the Cowboys effectively shut McCoy & Co. down in Week 7, holding the Eagles to 84 rushing yards on 23 carries. It was just one of three times the Eagles have been held under 120 rushing yards this season.

"From the [first] Giants game on, one of the biggest things teams have tried to do against us, they've tried to play man coverage, put another safety down [in the box] and then walk the linebackers up [to the line], which takes us off our double-teams,'' center Jason Kelce said.

"That was the biggest hindrance. When you have to single-block guys, you can't get as much movement. The Giants did that. The Cowboys did that too for the most part [in the first meeting].''

Since Week 10, McCoy has rushed for fewer than 75 yards just once. That was 3 weeks ago when he had a season-low eight carries for 38 yards in a 48-30 loss to the Vikings.

He rushed for 155 yards (on 25 carries) against the playoff-bound Packers. Put up a franchise-record 217 against the Lions and 133 against the Bears.

"We have a lot better answers to man coverage now,'' Kelce said. "First of all, we've been forced to adapt and get used to man coverage in a way that teams are playing us defensively. So just by continually getting those reps, we've gotten better. And the coaches have continued to develop more and more plays against man coverage, more things to attack teams that want to do that to us.''

The Cowboys' front seven gave the Eagles' offensive line problems last night, particularly in pass protection. They stoned the Eagles late in the third quarter when they tried a quarterback sneak with Foles from the Dallas 1 on fourth down.

But McCoy got the yards when he needed them. Rushed for 51 yards on 10 first-half carries, including a 20-yard run on the first touchdown drive.

But he really proved his worth to the Eagles in the fourth quarter after the Cowboys made it a one-point game, 17-16.

McCoy gained 24 yards on six carries on an 11-play, 60-yard touchdown drive that put the Eagles up by 24-16. He picked up first downs on two third-and-1s.

His final run on the drive, a 4-yarder on a third-and-1 at the Dallas 10, set up Bryce Brown's 6-yard touchdown run.

On Twitter: @Pdomo