I got home from Washington D.C. on Sunday night and flipped on my TV just in time to see Bryce Brown race 65 yards to the end zone.
It was the perfect encapsulation of Philadelphia’s 54-11 demolition of Chicago. Not only was an Eagles running back doing whatever he wanted against the Bears’ maligned defense, it was the backup. LeSean McCoy had already been relegated to the bench with 133 yards and two scores on just 18 carries.
The Eagles ran the ball for 289 yards and four touchdowns.
The performance all but assured that McCoy will take home the 2013 NFL rushing title. With one game to play, McCoy’s total of 1,476 leads second-place Jamaal Charles by 189 yards. It’s a safe bet no one will be taking his place atop the stat sheet, even if he’s bottled up by the Cowboys.
This brings us to the more pertinent point -- this Eagles offense, and the challenge of stopping it in six days’ time.
Since Nick Foles returned from his concussion on Nov. 3, the Eagles have averaged 447 yards per game over the last seven weeks. They’ve hit the all-impressive 500-yard mark twice, including Sunday night against the Bears.
You can nitpick about the competition if you want to, but those numbers are truly impressive regardless of the opponent.
Now contrast that with Oct. 20, when the Cowboys went to Lincoln Financial Field and emerged with a 17-3 win. The Cowboys are one of just three teams to hold Philadelphia below 20 points this season, and they are the only team to keep the Eagles out of the end zone.
On that windy day in Philadelphia, this Cowboys defense – which we’ve spent the last six weeks criticizing – held Chip Kelly’s offense to 278 total yards and no touchdowns.
Only one other team has held the Eagles to so few yards and so few points, and that was the Giants – although with the large caveat that Matt Barkley played the majority of the game at quarterback in place of Nick Foles and Michael Vick.
So, can the Cowboys find lightning in a bottle a second time?
I think it starts with stopping McCoy – and potentially Brown – and the Eagles’ run game. The Cowboys totally stymied McCoy into 55 rushing yards in October. Since then, they’ve allowed 92 to Reggie Bush, 140 to Adrian Peterson, 145 to Mark Ingram, 127 to Andre Brown, 102 to Matt Forte, 141 to Eddie Lacy and 88 to Alfred Morris.
In that same span, they also held Rashad Jennings to a mere 35 yards on 17 carries. So we know they have the potential to clamp down.
But in order to make a playoff run, I think they’re going to need to stop the run.