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Murray silent after another quiet day

The great Week of the Disgruntled Running Backs came to an end on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, and, as far as we know, the proceedings didn't do anything to smooth things over in that department.

Eagles running back DeMarco Murray.
Eagles running back DeMarco Murray.Read more(David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The great Week of the Disgruntled Running Backs came to an end on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, and, as far as we know, the proceedings didn't do anything to smooth things over in that department.

DeMarco Murray, who is dissatisfied with his cog-in-the-wheel role for the Eagles, didn't start the game for the second straight week and got fewer touches than a guy who had missed the previous three games with a concussion. His thoughts on that? Hard to say. His stuff was cleared out when the locker room door opened.

Across the hallway, LeSean McCoy, the scorned former Eagles back, was as generous with his words as he is with his gratuities. He also didn't have much to say, following a fairly quiet day on the field for him and a 23-20 win for the Eagles.

It wasn't a pretty football game, which is what you get when a 5-7 team plays a 6-6 team, but it was useful enough for the Eagles, who remain in control of their destiny in the NFC East. If they win their remaining three games, they win the division. That isn't a lofty prize, but it's the only one they have to play for.

More than anything, the win showed the Eagles are pretty good at compartmentalizing everything that has been going on around them; whether it is the reports of Murray lobbying the owner about his playing time, or the ones about the head coach skipping off to Zone Read State University, or the potential distraction brought by McCoy and his "All About Me" tour.

The Eagles put it all aside and had an efficient if unspectacular afternoon, while Buffalo gave away the game with penalties. Unlike earlier in the season, the Eagles didn't beat themselves and the Bills didn't beat them, either.

"If we don't kill ourselves, we've got a good offense," center Jason Kelce said. "Everybody did a good job of ignoring the outside stuff and hunkering down together. I think it's been unifying. Any time there's things being said in the media, you can go two ways. You can come together and rely on each other to get through it, or you can let it separate you and you fall apart. I feel we're coming together."

If it still feels that way after playing Arizona next Sunday, maybe they've really got something going. As for Murray, however, if the team keeps winning, he needs to find a way to pretend to be happy. Leaving the locker room without comment after a win is the sort of thing that teammates notice.

Murray got 11 carries against Buffalo and gained 34 yards, both of which are modest by anyone's standards, but certainly for the defending NFL yardage champion. He has gained 603 yards this season, which puts him only 1,003 behind his total after 13 team games last season.

Chip Kelly went with a three-headed running back rotation (and also got Kenjon Barner on the field, although he didn't get a carry), with Ryan Mathews getting the ball 13 times and Darren Sproles seven times. The three running backs each caught two passes as well.

That might be a fair division of labor, but it isn't what Murray expected, and it certainly cements a change in team strategy that became apparent against New England. Murray isn't the lead back any more. He's not even the starter, and Kelly didn't toss him any bones just to calm the narrative of the last week. When you or someone in your camp leaks a story about cozying up to owner Jeffrey Lurie on the plane home from New England, that's not going to cut much ice with the coach.

After Murray's disastrous start this season in which he gained 47 yards on his first 30 carries, the Eagles became intent on force-feeding him the ball, buying into the hope that Murray might be a "volume" runner who needs a lot of carries to get going. For a stretch of five games, Murray averaged 20 carries, but the corresponding production was only about 80 yards per game from all those runs.

In the blowout losses to Tampa Bay and Detroit, there weren't many attempts to go around, obviously, but he had just eight attempts against the Patriots, and the writing was not only on the wall but on the stat sheet.

"We've got competitive guys here. All the skill guys want the ball every snap," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "In this game, everyone in the backfield contributed. Our ability to put a healthy back in the game that we trust is huge."

Murray put his head down for some tough yardage on some plays. He converted three third-and-short runs for first downs. His longest run of the day on his 11 carries was 7 yards. It wasn't much, but at least it came with a win, and that's more than the other disgruntled running back could say Sunday.

This wasn't a day for saying much, apparently. It was a day for staying afloat and letting the current carry the Eagles a week closer to something that might be meaningful. Murray is along for the ride. Until now, that's all he has been, floating down the lazy river without making a splash. That could change, but it's getting late, and the coach has apparently stopped waiting.