LeSean McCoy had 18 carries for 69 yards at the end of the third quarter. No one could have predicted what would come next.
In the fourth quarter, McCoy had 11 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns en route to spearheading the Eagles' wild, come-from-behind 34-20 victory. He finished with 29 carries for 217 yards, breaking Steve Van Buren's team record for rushing yards in a single game.
"(Van Buren's) definitely a Hall of Famer, one of the best backs to play this game and obviously to play here in Philadelphia," McCoy said. "It means a lot. I think records are meant to be broken, and it's been standing for so long. If you're going to break a record, why not his? He's a guy that put so much work in, even has the touchdown record, so we have some history together."
Interestingly enough, Van Buren also had one of his career-best performances in a driving snowstorm when he scored the only touchdown to help the Eagles win the 1948 NFL Championship Game.
"I know now," McCoy responded when asked if he knew that fact. "But it doesn't surprise me, though. I actually watched some tape on him – he was pretty good, very dominant."
McCoy is pretty good and very dominant in his own right.
In a game where the Eagles could not get anything going on offense until the final minutes of the first half and passing was nearly impossible due to the eight inches of snow that was dumped on Lincoln Financial Field, head coach Chip Kelly leaned on his superstar running back to churn out yards and move the chains. He was then rewarded in the second half as the Lions defensive line wore down and the offensive line was able to open up huge holes. The Eagles trio of running backs – McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk – gashed the Lions defense, putting up a mind-blowing 223 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Those 223 rushing yards are an NFL record for a most in quarter since quarterly stats began to be tracked in 1991. The Lions came into the game with the NFL's second-ranked rush defense and had given up a combined *total of 243 rushing yards in their past six *games.
While the fourth quarter was a whirlwind of touchdowns and excitement, the first three quarters were a struggle. The weather conditions were seemingly perfect for smash-mouth football, but the Eagles' ground game was not effective in the first half and forced the offense to make adjustments.
"The footing was a bit of a problem," guard Evan Mathis said. "We really had to adjust the game plan based on the weather. You definitely have to adjust your technique and your blocks. It took us as least a half to do that. We came in at the half, regrouped, went back out there and just stuck with it. I think you kind of learn quickly throughout the course of the game exactly how to get your footing in that kind of weather. We just kept sticking with it."
"We took some shots deep that kind of set (the Lions defense) back a little bit," McCoy said. "And the (offensive line) gave me opportunities one-on-one, just blowing guys off the ball. I think everybody is intimidated and scared of Detroit's guys up front, but I thought the big guys on my team, they took the challenge and stepped up. The whole week they talked about running the ball, giving me different matchups one-on-one. I think, not only just myself, with the backs we do have, one-on-one opportunities, we're going to win and today that's what happened."
McCoy was in prime form in the fourth quarter, exploding through holes, hurdling and juking defenders out of their shoes and outracing them to the end zone on touchdowns runs of 40 and 57 yards, the second one giving the Eagles the lead for good.
"I'm telling you, it was insane," tight end Brent Celek said, still in awe of McCoy. "There were sometimes it felt like eight inches (of snow) on the ground at some spots. When you would step, you couldn't even touch the grass. So the fact that (McCoy) was doing that, I mean, it's crazy."
"It was tough, to be honest, it was definitely tough," said McCoy, who has seven career fourth-quarter touchdowns of 40 or more yards, an NFL record. "The normal footing and traction I get when stopping and cutting, sometimes I couldn't really plant like I usually plant on a dime but it worked out. The guys were giving my so much room, even on some of the tough yards where (the Lions) were stopping me, I was getting about 4 (yards) a pop. It's a mental thing, I feel. Obviously, it's going to be tough because it's the snow and the weather, but you don't think about that when you're running. I think if you think about it, it can set you back a little bit."
Nothing, not even conditions McCoy called the worst in which he has every played, could hold back the Eagles' precocious 25-year old running back who continues to etch his name in the team record books.