By Sam Bush
There’s an adage in the NFL:
You want to send a message, call Western Union (this is an old adage; today your message would be texted or tweeted).
You want to make a statement, you do it on the field.
The Dallas Cowboys made a statement Sunday afternoon in Seattle.
Then Sunday evening LeSean McCoy (with Nick Foles in photo above) and the Eagles took the field and made one of their own.
They also sent a message to the rest of the NFC East:
We’re the defending champs. You want the crown you got to go through us.
McCoy, who had been struggling to match the production that made him the NFL rushing leader in 2013, ran for a season-high 149 yards. The Philly defense sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning six times and posted its first shutout since 1996 as the Eagles defeated the Giants 27-0.
The victory came hours after Dallas’ 30-23 road victory over the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
So the Cowboys and Eagles now are both 5-1 atop the NFC East. New York drops to 3-3 in the division race.
“They (the Cowboys) are playing at a high level right now. And we are, too, so we’ll try to keep an eye out for Dallas,” said McCoy.
The Eagles head into a bye. They won’t play the Cowboys until a Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving) game in Dallas. Then the Cowboys will visit here Dec. 14.
“We’ll have our time to play them. So if they keep winning, and we’re going to keep winning, eventually we’ll get it squared off. We’ll see happens,” said McCoy.
McCoy went into the game averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season. Against the Giants, he averaged 6.8 yards on 22 carries. Working behind an injury-depleted line from the start this season, McCoy’s previous single-game rushing high in 2014 had been 81 yards against the St. Louis Rams. He had 85 rushing yards in the first half Sunday night as the Eagles took a 20-0 lead at intermission.
“I think tonight we really played altogether. There were tons of running lanes … guys open in the passing game. The defense had so many tackles and sacks,” said McCoy.
McCoy was asked what he’d say those who had doubted whether he could return to the 2013 form that produced a league-high 1,607 rushing yards.
“I like that because you really know who’s really behind you,” said McCoy. “For people to kind of criticize myself and the running game, I mean we were 4-1 coming into the game. And now we’re 5-1. I never lost confidence in myself or the guys up front.”
The Giants and Manning came in with three straight victories after an 0-2 start. The offense installed by new coordinator Ben McAdoo had been clicking.
But the tone was set on the Giants’ second series when Manning was sacked three times. The Giants faced fourth-and-30 when they finally punted.
Five of the six sacks of Manning came in the first half. The Eagles added two more sacks of backup quarterback Ryan Nassib.
Manning had thrown for eight touchdowns in the three previous games. Against Philadelphia, he hit 13-of-23 passes for 151 yards.
Linebacker Connor Barwin, who led the Eagles with three sacks, said the pass coverage played a key role in getting pressure on Manning. He also credited Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis with disguising the coverages.
“He (Manning) obviously was confused, and our secondary did a tremendous job, I think, jamming the receivers, giving them different looks,” said Barwin.
“Because the last three weeks what we’ve seen on film is Eli catching the ball (on the snap) and throwing. Today, he was catching the ball and looking. He was getting to his second and third read. And that’s how we were able to get a rush on him.”
The Eagles got their first shutout since they defeated the Giants 24-0 on Dec. 1, 1996.
Davis, the Eagles second-year coordinator, said, “Shutouts are so rare. … Those are hard now. It’s a team shutout. … It takes everybody.”
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He also was intercepted twice. He has seven interceptions this season compared to just two all of last season.
“I will correct those. I will fix it, and that’s just part of football,” said Foles. “… I made a couple of dumb mistakes with the football that I will work on. I can fix those things.”
And the Eagles are 5-1.
“It’s a great position to be in,” said Foles. “We still have a lot of season left to go, and I still have a lot of things to improve on, which excites me. … It will be great to have this bye week to get healthy, get some rest, recoup and get ready to go.”