CHICAGO --With running back Brian Westbrook out for at least the next few games, the onus has been placed upon rookie LeSean McCoy to carry the load both literally and figuratively.
With the Eagles starting a drive from their own 19-yard-line, trailing by three points in the fourth quarter of their Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears, McCoy burst through the right side of the line and sprang for a 17-yard run. But at the end of the run, he was stripped of the football by Bears' defender Charles Tillman.
The Bears would recover the fumble and begin a drive deep in Eagles territory.
"As I was putting (the ball) away, (Tillman) punched it out, which I've never experienced," said McCoy, who had two hands on the ball. "I just have to keep working at it."
So the rookie running back went back to the sidelines and all he could think about was getting another chance.
"I still had that mindset that if I get my chance, I want to do this, I want to do that," he said.
So when fellow rookie Antonio Dixon blocked Robbie Gould's 48-yard field goal attempt and gave the Eagles' offense a reprieve, McCoy was ready to get back to business.
"I felt like a million pounds were lifted off my shoulders," McCoy said. "My wish came true and I got another chance to redeem myself."
And redemption was the theme of the ensuing drive that took the Eagles 62 yards on 11 plays and gave them their first win in a game decided by seven points or less since 2007. It was capped off by the game-deciding 10-yard touchdown run by McCoy.
"It felt good to bounce back like that," he said. "You could kind of forget about it once you score and make a big play. That was the biggest thing, trying to erase (the fumble) out of my mind."
In fact, McCoy wasn't the only Eagle to redeem himself after a fumble Sunday night. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson lost a fumble in the second quarter, but later hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass. Jackson had a feeling McCoy would join him.
"I honestly told (McCoy), 'I fumbled and I made a touchdown,'" Jackson said. "I told (McCoy) in the huddle, 'You fumbled, I guarantee you're going to score a touchdown.' And he scored it."
On the night, McCoy ran for a career-high 99 yards on 20 carries. And along with Dixon's critical blocked punt, 64 yards receiving from Jeremy Maclin and key contributions on defense from Macho Harris, the rookie class shined. McCoy gives all the credit for that to the team's veterans.
"It says a lot about our leadership," McCoy said. "The senior leaders on this team kind of helping us younger guys out. We get a bad turnover like that, a fumble, and the older guys just kind of boost us and build us back up.
"Before we started the (game-winning) drive, we kind of huddled up and said a few words. (Quarterback Donovan McNabb) spoke to us and said, 'Let's go. We've been in this position before, let's do it.' And I think everybody just kind of got together and drove down, inch by inch and play by play."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:38 a.m., November 23