Entering Sunday's game with New Orleans, the Eagles were averaging just 70 yards per game on the ground, far from what was expected of the team's talented group of runners. There have been flashes here and there during the first four weeks of what the running game could be, but Sunday marked the first time that they were able to put it all together.
And boy was it fun to watch.
The Eagles consistently fed the running backs during Sunday's 39-17 win over New Orleans, racking up a whopping 186 yards on the ground. Each of the three running backs averaged at least 4.2 yards per carry and DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews each scored a touchdown as the 2015 version of the three-headed monster finally poked out all three of its heads.
"When we run the ball better and we're balanced, we have a better opportunity to stay on the field," head coach Chip Kelly explained after the game. "We ran the ball better and we converted on third down so we could stay on the field."
That balanced attack allowed the Eagles to play more offensive snaps (79-69), but win the time of possession battle as well. Philadelphia played at a controlled tempo for most of the game, spreading the ball among all three running backs.
"I was able to get into a little rhythm," Murray said. "Ryan came in and did a good job, Sproles came in and did a good job as well and the offensive line played great today.
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"We were successful on third downs, so I think that was good for us to continue to keep the drives moving forward, but it was awesome. Obviously the play-calling and getting different guys the ball in different formations and whatnot, I think that was good on Chip's part."
While Murray served as the Eagles' workhorse with 20 carries for 83 yards, Mathews had another strong performance, piling up 73 yards on just eight carries.
"I think mixing it up like that is good," Mathews said. "Everyone feeding off of each other, that's why I signed up. There are a lot of guys here who can make big plays, and you saw that today. We can only get better. It doesn't stop here. We can only get better.
"We feed off of each other – every single person from the receivers to running backs, tight ends, quarterbacks to the offensive line. We all feed off of each other when we start making plays. I think it really sets the tempo … I think it's just whoever is in there in that moment. DeMarco made some big plays, Sproles made some big plays, I was making plays. Everyone on the offense was doing their part. We were all just feeding off of each other and doing work."
While the running backs will get most of the headlines for the big-time rushing numbers on Sunday, the Eagles' offensive line also stepped up and gave its best performance of the season to get the running game going. The hard work up front did not go unnoticed.
"(The Saints have) a great defense," Murray said. "I think our offensive line played great today, so we have to give credit to those guys and Coach (Jeff) Stoutland."
"They always play great," said Mathews. "They did all the hard work down there in the trenches. They battled every down, so they deserve all the credit today."
Sunday's win was a big step in the right direction for an Eagles ground attack that is seeking to prove that the first four weeks of the season won't define what his team can accomplish. Now, the task at hand is to learn from what went well and what didn't, and look to build upon the win on Monday night against the New York Giants.
"Obviously it was a big win and we needed it, but we need to just reflect on it, watch the film and just learn from the things we didn't do so well," said Murray. "It was a great win, a great team win."