When the snow finally released its blinding grip on Lincoln Financial Field late Sunday, LeSean McCoy suddenly looked better than he ever has before. On the treacherous field, he never seemed more elusive, more explosive or more deserving of his stature as one of the best running backs in Eagles history.
The record book will forever show McCoy ran for 217 yards in a blizzard Sunday, burying Steve Van Buren’s single-game benchmark of 205 yards established 64 years ago. But no one will need to consult a record book to remember the 34-20 win over Detroit. The fans will never forget what happened in that fourth quarter. No one associated with that game will ever forget it.
Not only did McCoy commandeer a victory the Eagles desperately needed in their improbable fight for the NFC East title, but he also defied every law of football logic in the process. McCoy gained 145 yards in the final 15 minutes against one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL. He ran past star linemen Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley like they were two big, fat snowmen.
By virtue of his record day, McCoy is back in the lead among NFL runners, with 1,305 yards. He is also the only rusher averaging over 100 yards per game — not to mention his unimaginable average of 217 yards in the snow. In short, the man can run, regardless of the footing or the team or the importance of the game.
None of this should be a shock to Eagles fans. McCoy was effective as a rookie here in 2009, and has been an elite runner ever since. His biggest problem has been the team surrounding him. Gaining 3,454 yards on mediocre clubs over the past three seasons was impressive, but there was something lacking — maybe charisma, maybe just a little luck.
From this point forward, though, he will have no such problem. McCoy was not just good in that fourth-quarter comeback on Sunday, he was as powerful as Van Buren, as elusive as Wilbert Montgomery and as quick as Brian Westbrook. He was every elite Eagles runner in history, only better.
Head coach Chip Kelly never hypes his own players, but the coach could barely contain himself yesterday when evaluating McCoy’s performance. No one on the Eagles — even Kelly himself, who comes from New Hampshire – had ever been in a game with snow coming down that hard, and accumulating that fast, but he said the great ones find a way to overcome the elements. McCoy found a way on Sunday.
“This was the worst game I’ve played in, weather-wise,” McCoy said. “And the best.”
Decades from now, fans will still be talking about the day when a blizzard left six inches of snow on Lincoln Financial Field in a matter of minutes back in 2013. They will savor the memory of that great comeback, those many dramatic twists, that thrilling finish.
But what they will remember most is the astonishing performance of McCoy, who dashed through the snow and finally found his true place in Philadelphia sports history.
Halladay calls it a career
Roy Halladay, a baseball player who never gave up, finally walked away from the game he loves Monday, a victim of time. No one savored the art of throwing a ball more than the former Phillies pitcher, and no one was more committed to doing it well. Unfortunately, his arm died before his desire did.
When he opened the winter meetings in Orlando, Fla. with the sad announcement, the only fans surprised by the decision were those who bailed early on the Phillies last season. As brilliant as he was from 2001 to 2011, he was dreadful after shoulder surgery stole the astonishing movement on his pitches.
It was my privilege to be at spring training four years ago, when he joined the Phillies after an exemplary career in Toronto. The crew from my WIP radio show arrived at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., around 5 a.m. that first morning. Only one player was already there, working out — Halladay.
During his time with the Phils, the proud pitcher taught his teammates the value of commitment to excellence. Kyle Kendrick, among others, adopted Halladay’s workout regimen and reaped the benefits, though no player could keep up with him. Out of a sheer desire to excel, Halladay pushed his body to the brink of exhaustion right to the very end.
Halladay will always be remembered in Philadelphia for his perfect game and his playoff no-hitter, but not for the one achievement he wanted most — a world championship. Still, he owes no apologies for an extraordinary career.
Let the record show that Halladay ended his career the only way he knew how — with dignity and class. We all should feel honored he played for our team.
Debating Nick Foles vs. Michael Carter-Williams
Holiday shoppers looking for the ideal sports jersey this month have a delicious dilemma. Should they put their money on emerging star quarterback Nick Foles of the Eagles or in Sixers rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams? No. 9 in green, or No. 1 in red? Which is the better investment?
The similarities between the two biggest future sports stars in Philadelphia are uncanny. They are both talented, smart players with unlimited potential, and they are also both — dare we say it? — boring. At a very young age, they are already leading their respective sports in clichés.
Foles has the big advantage of playing football, which will always be king in Philadelphia. If he develops into a franchise quarterback, his jersey will remain in style for a decade or more. Barring injuries, quarterbacks have longevity. In addition, Foles has a quarterback rating right now ahead of the top jerseys in the NFL: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Meanwhile, Carter-Williams plays a sport that better showcases individual talents. No jersey in the past generation was more popular on our streets than Allen Iverson’s No. 3 a decade ago. Carter-Williams has a chance to be the next Iverson, minus the baggage. He is well on his way to becoming the next big thing in the NBA, both here and across the nation.
So who wins the race for best new jersey? The same athlete who would win an actual foot race: Carter-Williams. The Sixers were smart to give him No. 1.
Idle thoughts …
»Is it possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. is playing a little rope-a-dope with the fans this offseason before a big move? Marlon Byrd? Brad Lincoln? Wil Nieves? Who’s buying tickets to see these nobodies? Expect a major trade or signing soon. With Amaro, it’s inevitable, isn’t it?
»The NFL is actually planning a couple of 9:30 a.m. Sunday games next year to be broadcast live from London. If the TV ratings are good, the league may offer a package of morning games to a network. They can call it the Church of the NFL, thereby proving football is truly a religion.
»Crybaby coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals said he sent 15 plays into the league office that he thought the refs got wrong during his game against the Eagles on Dec. 2. Do you think he included the 10 that favored his team?
»If Sean Couturier keeps playing this well for the Flyers, he will soon be able to afford new front teeth to close the gaping hole in his smile. Am I the only one who looks at him and sees Bobby Clarke, circa 1975? The smile, I mean. No one will ever compare to Clarke as a player.
»How could the doctors tell that ex-Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov sustained a concussion last week with his new Edmonton team? In the “humongous universe” where he resides, doesn’t he always see stars?