The Denver Broncos entered Sunday's game in Philadelphia with the AFC's best rushing defense. Only once all season had they allowed more than 80 yards on the ground, and only once had a team averaged more than 3.1 yards per carry against them. Perhaps most impressive, though, was the fact that they hadn't allowed a single rushing touchdown all season long.
The Eagles saw the Denver defense as a challenge and attacked it head-on, rushing for 197 yards on 37 carries. The Eagles kept five running backs active, and all played their part in the 51-23 win. LeGarrette Blount was his typical bruising self, and Jay Ajayi made quite the debut in an Eagles uniform, but the standout star in the Eagles backfield was former undrafted free agent signee Corey Clement.
"As a running back, we take a lot of pride in putting a lot of yardage on a great defense," Clement said after the game. "The defense did a great job making sure the offense got a chance to keep running their routes. We had fun out there and put some points on the board. Now we are going into this bye week with a record of 8-1."
While Clement was quick to highlight the team's overall effort, his individual performance helped pave the way to an easy victory. Playing as part of the running back rotation, Clement made the absolute most of his chances, totaling 66 yards of offense while finding the end zone three times (twice on the ground, once through the air).
"It was three?" Clement asked with a laugh. "I was just playing football. Today was a great day on both sides of the ball. At the same time, we are going to go back and correct what we messed up today. It is the nature that we have with this football team. We always want to be perfect, but it is not always ideal. So we are going to go back and see if we can get better. This team did a great job today, but at the same time, we are going to keep going."
Clement displayed his versatile skillset on each of his scoring plays. His first touchdown was on a 15-yard screen pass in which he navigated through traffic. The second came on an option run in which he used his speed to get to the outside, and the third showed his power and he plunged his way up the middle to find his way into the end zone.
"When we ran the option down at the goal line, I was just waiting for [Broncos LB] Von Miller to crash inside and [QB] Carson [Wentz] was going to pitch it out. It is kind of a two-way go; whether Carson was going to score or I was going to score," Clement explained. "The last touchdown was called to me, so I just had to give a second effort to get into the end zone. That is just part of being a running back. You never want to be stopped once. You have to keep pushing."
The Eagles are now averaging 136.8 yards per game on the ground, third best in the NFL. The ground game certainly got a boost from last Tuesday's addition of Ajayi from Miami, who adds yet another element to an already explosive group.
According to Clement, Ajayi's presence undoubtedly provided a spark for the entire group against Denver's stout defense.
"Once Jay [Ajayi] got into the room, we noticed that he is definitely a competitor. A great contribution to a group means a lot," Clement said. "I am pretty sure everyone on the outside thought it was going to create some turmoil in our room, but at the same time, we are having fun. When Ajayi is in the game, we are rooting for him. When he is not on the field, he is rooting for us. It just shows the type of player he is and we want to carry that throughout the whole season."
Now Clement and the rest of the Eagles get to enjoy the bye week with an NFL-best record of 8-1. While they're currently in a good place, the Eagles still have a long way to go, and Clement knows hard work will be the key.
"We know where we are at. We don't want to come back under it. It is good to have this victory right now, but once we come back in a week, we have to come back with a 1-0 mentality," Clement said. "We have to come back and win the next game. It is not going to be easy especially coming off of a bye week. You can either lose on it or win on it. Guys are going to do a great job making sure we stay prepared and not lose a step."