|LeSean McCoy carries six times for 2 yards in the first half, and 17 for 121 in the second half. (US Presswire)|
PHILADELPHIA -- By now, you probably know what I think of running backs in the NFL, which is they are merely a side act to the main show: the pass-happy, spread-them-out offenses that dominate the league.
He is one back who I actually think needs the ball more. Yes, needs the ball more -- any way he can get it.
I offer you Exhibit A: Eagles 19, New York Giants 17.
The Eagles beat the Giants on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field in a thrilling NFC East game, one that wasn't settled until Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes' 54-yard field goal attempt fell short with 15 seconds left in the game, setting off a wild celebration on the field and in the stands.
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That meant the Eagles, who drove 75 yards in 12 plays to set up an Alex Henery field goal to take the lead with 1:52 left, found themselves atop the NFC East standings at 3-1.
It also meant the heat was off Eagles quarterback Mike Vick, some of it put there by his own coach last week when he left open the door to a possible quarterback change.
Vick played well against the Giants, throwing for 241 yards and running for 49, but I think a lot of his success came because of McCoy, who sometimes is the forgotten man in Philadelphia. McCoy ran for a season-high 123 yards on 23 carries, caught three passes for 17 yards and made enough jump cuts in the hole to make Gale Sayers proud.
On the Eagles' game-winning drive, McCoy had five runs for 32 yards, including a 15-yarder on the second play.
"We just ran the ball well," McCoy said.
McCoy is one of those backs who is perfect for what the Eagles like to do. He is fast, shifty, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and yet there are times when he seems like the forgotten man.
Late Sunday night, I stepped up to his locker and told him that I think he is sometimes the forgotten man.
"You mean by the other team?" he asked.
"No, your own," I said.
"I don't think so," McCoy said.
"I do," I said.
See, where most backs and most running offenses tend to bog down, McCoy seems to be the juice that gets the Eagles going. For all of Vick's wonderful athletic ability -- and that was certainly on display against the Giants -- it was McCoy's running that kept the Giants honest up front.
Amazingly, he had six carries for 2 yards in the first half. There is no way a player that talented should carry it only six times.
Eagles coach Andy Reid takes a lot of heat for not running it enough -- some of it warranted -- but the counter is the short passing game is the Eagles' running game. Whether it's a handoff, a pitch, a screen, a circle route, a sit-down route in zone or whatever other way McCoy can get the ball, he needs his touches.
Running back doesn't mean just line up and hand it off behind five linemen and two tight ends and a fullback. This guy is too valuable to not feature more.
This was a pressure week for the Eagles offense. They came in as a turnover machine, with Vick personally responsible for nine of them, including six interceptions.
That led to the talk -- strong talk -- that Vick needed to sit down and rookie Nick Foles needed to play. Reid didn't shut the door on that talk when asked about a possible change last week, even though he could have slammed it shut.
Vick might have quieted the talk for a while with his play against the Giants. OK, for a week. He looked liked the old Vick. He was accurate, and he wasn't eyeballing the rush, which he seemed to do in the first three games. He also wasn't running just to run it. His runs seemed perfectly timed against the Giants.
That drive to Alex Henery's 26-yard field goal was Vick's third fourth-quarter, game-winning drive this season, giving him 13 in his career.
"You can't listen to what everybody says and what is being said about you," Vick said. "What's most important is what happens internally within the organization and what we know. We just try and stay positive. If I listen to all you guys, I'd be a wreck. Deep down with that, you know I've been through a lot and it's kind of easy to persevere in the game that you love."
I asked receiver DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant if Vick's game made all the talk of his possibly being benched somewhat laughable. I expected defiant answers, but didn't really get them. Jackson talked about ball security and what Vick can do when he does take care of it. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Said Avant: "I don't get into that. He's our quarterback. The thing that you see a lot of times is not Mike. He's going to get the brunt of it. When you look at the tape, we know the truth. Whether it's the receivers, the running backs, the quarterback or line. It's not all Mike."
Nor should it be. In a quarterback league, where running backs are being devalued quicker than a sports car that is driven from the lot, McCoy needs more games like he had Sunday.
As he left the locker room, McCoy did so with a game ball under his arm. I thought to myself how if the Eagles were smart, they would see more of that out on the field.