PHILADELPHIA -- LeSean McCoy had the glittering gold championship belt because he won the NFL rushing title.
McCoy wore the belt over his shoulder on national television, though, because the Philadelphia Eagles won a football game.
No NFC East title, McCoy said, no gaudy display of pride in his league-best 1,607 rushing yards.
“It was something fun,” McCoy said in the locker room after the Eagles’ white-knuckle, 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. “It was on the sideline. Confident about the win, so definitely had it ready.”
McCoy has had excellent individual seasons before. The Eagles went to the playoffs in his 1,000-yard season but were dispatched in the first round by the Green Bay Packers. In 2011, McCoy rushed for 1,309 yards for a team that went 8-8 and missed the postseason.
He was down to 840 yards for the 4-12 team that marked the end of Andy Reid’s tenure. McCoy could only wonder what 2013 would bring after the Eagles hired this hotshot college coach, Chip Kelly, to replace Reid.
“Coming from college, I didn’t know what to expect,” McCoy said. “Being around coach Reid for so long, he’s been a guy that was established as a winning coach. I didn’t know what to expect from coach Kelly. After I talked to him, I was very optimistic about it. He was just amazing, how he wanted to run the ball and his thought process for getting the ball in his playmakers’ hands.”
The results speak eloquently for themselves: McCoy led the NFL in rushing yards (1,607) and total yards from scrimmage (2,146) – both franchise records. He broke the Eagles’ single-game rushing record with 217 yards against Detroit in the snow. He had seven games with over 100 rushing yards. McCoy was selected for his second Pro Bowl.
Oh, and the Eagles went 10-6 and won their division.
“With the stats and the record, none of that stuff means anything if we don’t win (Sunday night),” McCoy said. “That was the most important thing. I think it’s big for the city, for this franchise, this team. It’s been a while and it’s actually amazing -- coach Kelly’s first year, making the playoffs.”
McCoy played a huge role in the win over the Cowboys. The Eagles offense stopped working in the third quarter, allowing Dallas to seize momentum and threaten to take the lead. After a big defensive stop on a fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 40-yard line, Kelly turned to McCoy.
McCoy ran the ball seven times on the 11-play, 5-minute, 37-second drive. Bryce Brown carried it twice, including the 6-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a 24-16 lead with 6:09 left.
“They know we’re running and they’ve got to stop it,” McCoy said. “Coach Kelly said, we’re running the ball, and we did. Bryce came in and scored. I got a little winded at the end.”
It took a couple more big defensive plays, but the Eagles hung on for the win. The NFL’s leading rusher could wear his championship belt, knowing there was more football to play.
“We should be in the playoffs,” McCoy said. “We should be the division champs. We just have to go out there and get it done Saturday.”