Loss spoils McCoy's record achievement
LeSean McCoy became Eagles' all-time leading rusher, but sub-par day that included a key fumble cast a pall over accomplishment.
ON A DAY when there should have been trumpets and applause for LeSean McCoy, there was only wailing and gnashing of teeth.
On the day when he passed Wilbert Montgomery to become the Eagles' all-time rushing leader, all McCoy could think about was his disappointing performance in the Eagles' 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Fifty yards on 17 carries and a killer fumble on the first play of the second half that teed up seven points for the Seahawks.
"That was a huge turnover," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said after the game. "Anytime you turn the ball over in that area [inside your own 20], especially when they turn it into points . . .
"You come out, it's a close game. You hope you can establish something on that first drive of the second half and get some momentum going on your side. That really hurt at that point."
It's no secret that McCoy and the running game stir the Eagles' offensive drink. Neither Mark Sanchez, nor Nick Foles, are the kind of quarterbacks who can carry a team on their backs. But McCoy is that kind of running back.
He ran away with the league rushing title last season, and not coincidentally, the Eagles won 10 games and made the playoffs.
After a slow start this season, he has caught fire in recent weeks, notching three 100-yard rushing performances in the previous five games, including a season-high 159 yards on 25 carries in the Eagles' big Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys.
McCoy and the Eagles were confident they would be able to run the ball on the Seahawks yesterday. But it didn't happen. He had just one run longer than 6 yards (10 yards). Ten of his 17 carries gained 3 or fewer yards. He had just three rushing first downs.
And that killer fumble that gave the Seahawks the ball on the Eagles' 19.
"Just bad ball security," a disappointed McCoy said after the game. "I hit the hole. There was a guy getting off a block, trying to hit the ball and he hit it.
"It was terrible timing. That's my fault. I should've been more aware of ball security. We're trying to come back, and to get a turnover that fast, that's real bad.
"That's on me. Today, I didn't play well at all. Probably one of my worst games to date since being here. I just have to get better."
For most of his career, McCoy hasn't been a fumbler. Just the opposite. He had just seven lost fumbles in his first five seasons. But he's had two in successive weeks - one in the Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys and again yesterday.
He always has carried the ball away from his body, but has had a knack for knowing when to tuck it in and protect it.
"It's something I have to work on," he said. "I'm not a fumbler. I've had a lot of carries and I don't turn the ball over too much. I just have to get back to it. I've got to be more conscious of it, especially in traffic, which I [normally] do well at.
"The last 2 weeks, I've been letting it go. You put that on tape, teams are going to be going after it even more. I can't talk about it. I've just got to go and do it."
The Seahawks have one of the league's top defenses. They were ranked fifth in the league against the run. But the Eagles felt they would be able to run the ball against them.
"I think we had some conducive looks for running the ball," center Jason Kelce said. "There were some missed points [of attack] by me early on. Some of the tempo plays I didn't do a good job with. And then there were just some missed blocks.
"For whatever reason, we just didn't do a good job on them. Whether it's one guy here, one guy there, a missed point here, a missed point there, I think when we go back and look at the film, we're really going to be kicking ourselves."
The Eagles had just 39 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first half.
"We didn't do a good job of giving our team the confidence to call those [run] plays," Kelce said. "When we go out there and start early with some big runs, we really get momentum and do really well. But a lot of times, when we don't start out the way we usually want to, it tends to stall us out.
"We have to do a better job in the middle of the game of making those corrections [to the run game] and fixing them. If you look at the games when we've had success on offense, especially a lot of success, the vast majority of those games, we've run the ball effectively."
And when the Eagles don't run the ball effectively, like yesterday, the rest of the offense also sputters. Sanchez completed just 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards. The Eagles managed just nine first downs and 139 yards, the lowest total since Chip Kelly arrived in Philadelphia
And McCoy spent a day that should have been one of the most gratifying of his career kicking himself.
"The record wasn't on my mind at all," said McCoy, who passed Montgomery on a 4-yard run in the third quarter shortly after the Seahawks went up, 24-14.
"I don't know. I just wasn't focused today. I wasn't there. But I wasn't thinking about the record at all really.
"Some of the small stuff that I do well [I didn't]. That last sack of Mark. That was my protection. That was my guy. A small, little DB. I just missed him."
DID YOU NOTICE?
-- The Seahawks ran two zone-read plays on their first possession, including one on Marshawn Lynch's 21-yard gain on third-and-15.
-- The Eagles used a disciplined pass rush most of the game, sacrificing sack opportunities in exchange for keeping Russell Wilson in the pocket, or at least from taking off and running.
-- Seahawks punt returner Doug Baldwin's mistake on Donnie Jones' first punt. For some reason, he let the totally catchable ball bounce, costing his team 13 yards in field position, which turned out to be significant a little later after Jon Ryan let long-snapper Clint Gresham's snap clang off his hands. It was recovered by the Eagles' Zach Ertz at the Seattle 14-yard line.
-- The outstanding block by wide receiver Riley Cooper on cornerback Byron Maxwell on Mark Sanchez's 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
-- By putting Maclin in motion on his touchdown catch and no Seattle defender going with him, Sanchez was able to determine that the Seahawks were in zone coverage, prompting the throw to Maclin. If they had been in man, he likely would have gone elsewhere with the throw.
-- On their second possession, the Eagles ran two straight plays with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in the backfield together. Sproles ran for 2 yards on the first play. Then McCoy picked up a big first down on the next play with a 2-yard run from the Seattle 5 on fourth and 1. They've been on the field together just 24 times this season.
-- Trent Cole crashed down on a zone-read fake to Marshawn Lynch early in the second quarter, which created the wide lane for Russell Wilson on his 26-yard touchdown run.
-- The clever play by Cole and linebacker Mychal Kendricks on another zone-read play later in the second quarter on a second-and-2 play. Cole intentionally crashed inside again to coax Wilson to keep it, which he did. But Kendricks looped around and tackled Wilson for a 2-yard loss.
-- The heads-up play by slot corner Brandon Boykin on a third-and-11 play late in the second quarter. He recognized that Wilson was going to go deep to Doug Baldwin, who lined up in the slot. He stayed with Baldwin, allowing Kendricks to get pressure on Wilson and force an intentional grounding.
-- Cole got away with a penalty on the Seahawks' final possession of the first half when he hit Wilson in the head with his arm.
-- Safety Malcolm Jenkins blew a golden opportunity for an interception midway through the fourth quarter when he stepped in front of a pass for tight end Tony Moeaki. But he couldn't hold on to it.
BY THE NUMBERS
-- Jeremy Maclin's 1-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was his 10th of the season, tying his career high (2010). He is the fourth Eagle in history with at least two 10-plus TD-catch seasons. Mike Quick and Pete Pihos each had three. Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald had four.
-- Connor Barwin had another sack, giving him 13 1/2 for the season. Eight of Barwin's sacks, including his one yesterday, have come on third down.
-- Linebacker Mychal Kendricks had his third forced fumble of the season. Brandon Graham leads the team in forced fumbles with four. Trent Cole and Vinny Curry also have three.
-- The Eagles' nine first downs were their fewest of the season. Prior to yesterday, their lowest first-down total was 11 in their Week 4 loss to San Francisco.
-- The Eagles have scored 71 points on their first and second possessions in the last nine games.
-- The Eagles converted their one and only red-zone opportunity into a touchdown. They are 6-for-17 in the red zone in their last four games.
-- The Eagles converted just two of 11 third-down opportunities (18.2%). That's their worst third-down percentage of the season.
-- Mark Sanchez completed just four of nine passes for 24 yards on third down. For the season, he has a 53.8 completion percentage on third down with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
-- The Seahawks converted seven of 16 third-down opportunities, including two third-and-15s and a third-and-13.
-- Maclin's 1-yard touchdown catch was his third red-zone TD catch of the season. Rookie Jordan Matthews is first in red-zone TD catches with six.
-- The Eagles ran just 45 offensive plays against the Seahawks. That's their fewest of the season. Their previous low was 56 in Week 4 against San Francisco.
-- Their 18:04 time of possession was their second lowest of the season. They had the ball for just 17:43 in the loss to the 49ers.