Coming into Saturday night’s wildcard matchup with the New Orleans Saints, the Philadelphia Eagles saw themselves doing one thing better than their opponent, without a doubt. All season long, the Eagles have been able to run the ball better than any other team in football.
Behind the year that LeSean McCoy had, the Eagles led the league in rushing and when it was all said and done, their running back won All-Pro first team honors. Not only that, but he took home the 2014 rushing title as well. At home, in cold weather, against a team that ranked 25th in the league in rushing and boasting a back like McCoy, you would have thought that at the end of this one, Philadelphia would have won the battle on the ground.
Not so fast, my friends. The Saints came out on a mission Saturday night and ran the ball down the throat of the Eagles’ defense. Mark Ingram led the way as he ran for 97 yards on 18 carries, averaging a healthy 5.4 yards per carry. Ingram also ran for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Undrafted rookie free agent Khiry Robinson also had eight carries sprinkled in and ran for 45 yards, thus boasting a 5.6 yard-per-carry average. Topped off by Darren Sproles’ four carries for 29 yards, the Saints ran for 185 yards as a team Saturday night.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, ran for a total of just 80 yards as a team. The fact that they only averaged 3.6 yards per carry — coming from McCoy, outside of one carry by Nick Foles — is highly uncharacteristic of the Eagles. Unfortunately, they picked the wrong night to slow the tempo.
Chip Kelly didn’t necessarily have his offense hurrying in any way on Saturday night, thus never truly looking like their normal offense we’ve gotten used to seeing this past season. The Saints didn’t push it much either. They just pounded the ball and pounded it consistently.
New Orleans won on a last second field goal and by the score of 26-24, but their run game — not Drew Brees — was the sole reason they took home a victory. Imagine that.