LANDOVER, Md. -- The Eagles ran more plays in the first half than they have players on the roster. It took LeSean McCoy one half to becomes the NFL's leading rusher. The Eagles had 322 total yards through the first half, more than four times the 75 yards put forth by the Redskins offense. The exaggerated and true superlatives for the breakneck speed of the Eagles offense on Monday night alone could fill this space, but the best way to describe the Eagles' first-half offense is to listen to the players who were along for the hyper-charged ride.
"We felt it," said Jason Kelce after the 53-play half. "I think it was like three of us, the first quarter ended and we started going in like it was halftime. We looked up and it was still the second quarter and we were like, 'What the heck is going on right now?'"
What went on was the Eagles blitzing a stunned Redskins defense. Things started quickly for the Eagles offense, as they raced down the field on the opening drive, canvassing 76 yards on 10 plays in only two minutes and 46 seconds of game action. That drive would end as Michael Vick's intended pass to McCoy was batted down by Ryan Kerrigan, questionably ruled a backwards pass and returned for a touchdown by DeAngelo Hall.
Undeterred, the offense would sprint on. The ensuing drive resulted in a 9-play, 51-yard field goal drive that spanned two minutes and 39 seconds. Following a turnover forced by the defense on the Redskins' first offensive play from scrimmage, the Eagles took advantage of what was already becoming a tired Redskins defense and scored on a 25-yard touchdown toss from Vick to DeSean Jackson on the very next play.
By the end of the first half, the Eagles scored 24 points on offense (to go with a 2-point safety) and amassed 21 first downs, 151 yards rushing and 190 yards passing on an impressive 6.1 yards per play. McCoy, the night's workhorse, deserves nearly as much credit for his predictive abilities heading into the regular season as he does for his performance on the ground in the season opener.
"We're going to be moving so fast at a high pace where you don't give the defense enough time to set their defense," McCoy said last week. "They don't get their correct calls, so sometimes you might get guys out of line, maybe some missed assignments due to guys not getting the right calls. In this offense, all you need is a crease, and with the backs we have, we can hit it and get going.
"(Defenses will get so tired) for sure, and we haven't even played that many snaps. I'm looking forward to seeing a whole game of the guys from the first half, and then seeing them in the second half."
The benefit of those tired legs showed up right away for McCoy, who scampered for a 34-yard touchdown on his first touch of the second half. On the night, the All-Pro running back carried the ball a career-high 31 times for 184 yards (one yard shy of his career high). On the night, the Eagles ran the ball 49 times – more than any time over Andy Reid's 14 seasons as Eagles head coach.
"That tempo really worked. I don't think anybody has seen it that fast," McCoy said after the game. "It's hard to really stop. You don't know where the ball's going. We're throwing it, running it, we have so many different mix-ups. There are some plays where it's a run but it could be a pass also. You just have to guess right."
While the Redskins fell on the scoreboard, many of their defensive players literally fell to the ground with cramps, whether they were real or manufactured. On opening night for Kelly's offense, the effect was obvious.
"They were tiring out," said Jason Peters. "They were falling on the ground, catching cramps, guys were running out, they were subbing guys in and out, guys had hands on their hips. They were tired. We're definitely in better shape than they are."
Despite a late rally by the Redskins after the pace of the Eagles offense slowed with its lead, the Eagles offense closed the game on the field with a few final kneel-downs. The last word here goes to the submissive, and likely fruitless, pleas of the Redskins defense.
"We were taking a knee at the end of the game," recalled Kelce, "and the Redskins were like, 'Next time we play you guys, you're going to have to slow it down a bit.'"
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