After a record-setting season in which set the franchise mark and led the NFL in rushing with 1,607 yards, LeSean McCoy and the prolific Eagles' ground attack struggled against a stout New Orleans Saints defense in the Wild Card playoff game.
The Saints defense has been stingy all season and dominant against the pass, but it had been vulnerable versus the run ranking 19th in the league. On Saturday night, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his charges were determined not to let McCoy beat them. Former Eagle Brodrick Bunkley played his nose tackle responsibilities to perfection and clogged the middle, while defensive ends Cam Jordan and Akiem Hicks controlled the edges. The linebackers were also disciplined in their gap assignments and sound in their tackling. McCoy's longest run of the game went for 11 yards, and he was held to just 77 yards on 21 carries, a 3.7 yards-per-carry average that was nearly 1.5 yards below his season average. The run game's ineffectiveness hurt an offense that had plenty of opportunities to score and break things open in the first half.
"Yeah, I feel like we let the team down," McCoy said. "The first half, we couldn't do anything. We didn't capitalize on any of the turnovers we got. We won the turnover battle, and we could have done more."
Overall, the offense had trouble finding rhythm and seemed out of sync. McCoy couldn't put his finger on any one issue that contributed to the unit's difficulties.
"I am not really sure," McCoy said. "It just wasn't clicking."
The Eagles ranked first in the NFL in rushing at 160.4 yards per game, but managed just half that on 22 attempts. What was even worse for McCoy was watching the Saints churn out 185 yards on the ground and end the game by running the ball all the way down while he and his offensive teammates watched helplessly from the sidelines.
"It sucks because there was nothing we could do but watch," McCoy said. "They killed us slowly. It was a terrible feeling."
A season that electrified the city and had the Eagles themselves eyeing the Super Bowl came crashing down.
"It hurts a lot," McCoy said. "We put so much into this since the offseason. We trained and worked so hard to get to this level and lose a game like this."
For now, a long offseason awaits, one in which McCoy and his teammates will have plenty of time to think about what went wrong and what can be done to make sure the 2014 season doesn't end the same way.