DENVER – Using its full arsenal of talented running backs, the Eagles attacked the Denver defense on Sunday with a pound-and-ground running attack against the NFL's best running D.
While Chip Kelly didn't slow down the tempo of his offense in an effort to play keep-away from Peyton Manning and Denver's offense, Kelly relied on the running game to make a difference against Denver, which had permitted an average of 44 rushing yards per game through three weeks.
Not only did the Eagles come out running the football, they made a point to attack the edges of the Denver defense, rather than the area between the tackles where Denver had allowed just 1.7 yards per carry entering the game.
The results were impressive. The Eagles ran for 101 yards in the first half, and all three backs got into the mix. LeSean McCoy was not pleased with his performance that included 73 rushing yards on 16 carries and a catch for 21 yards, Bryce Brown added in both the running game 19 yards and in the receiving game 41 yards and Chris Polk scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, his first offensive snap in an NFL game. Polk finished with 3 carries and 31 yards and a pair of receptions for 19 yards.
In all, the Eagles ran for 166 yards. However, 20 points didn't come close to beating Denver.
"I played poorly today. That was probably my worst performance since I've been on board," said McCoy, who admitted that he lost his breath for a spell in the first half. "I have to get better and I will, for sure."
The strategy was effective for much of the first half, and it helped keep the Eagles close against the explosive Denver offense. McCoy ran tough between the tackles, and Brown set up Polk's touchdown run with a 35-yard catch and run on a screen pass.
Polk was glad to get some playing time, but he was not happy with the game's outcome.
"We just have to get back to basics and pay attention to the details," he said. "It's a great feeling (to play), but I'm all about the team. I'm not really into individual things. I just want to win.We wanted to get the 'W' today, so it doesn't feel like I scored.
"Ultimately, though, the Eagles had to do more than run the football to keep pace with Denver, something that become more challenging in the second half as Denver's offense stretched the lead and the Eagles' defense was unable to get off the field.