How the Philadelphia Eagles rushed for 299 yards against the Detroit Lions

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The Philadelphia Eagles overcame the elements in Week 14 to amass 299 rushing yards in a 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions.

The numbers were surprising and not just because of the eight inches of snow that made life difficult for both offenses.

The Lions are usually stout against the run, thanks to their fearsome defensive line led by powerful interior tandem Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.

But the Eagles routinely ploughed through the middle for big gains. They did it with team speed and formation.

The Philly rushing attack really took over in the fourth quarter. On a first down play from their own 43-yard line, the Eagles manipulated the Lions with formation.

Head coach Chip Kelly aligned three wide receivers on the left side of his offense. He also deployed tight end Brent Celek on the right side of his O-line.

This alignment forced the Lions to shift their coverage. They put both cornerbacks and safety Louis Delmas on the three-receiver side, while fellow safety Glover Quin lined up over Celek.

The problem was that left a huge hole in the middle behind the linebacker level. The Eagles soon exploited that hole.

Quarterback Nick Foles, lined up in the shotgun, handed the ball to mercurial runner LeSean McCoy on an inside dive play. At the same time, Celek easily blocked defensive end Willie Young, powering him off the line.

That allowed the Eagles to double-team both Suh and Fairely inside. McCoy scooted behind one of those double-teams and darted through the middle.

Strong blocking downfield by big receivers like 6'3", 222-pound Riley Cooper, allowed McCoy to go 57 yards untouched for the score.

This formation killed Detroit most of the game. The threat of the deep pass, which had burned the Lions at the end of the third quarter, meant they had to match up with every receiver.

That left the defense undermanned up front. Kelly also took advantage of the way the Lions line up in the trenches.

They use wide splits, leaving big gaps between defensive ends and tackles. Zone-stretch blocking like the Eagles run naturally plays on these gaps.

But even when the Lions were playing run-first and creating eight-man fronts, the Eagles still produced huge gains on the ground.

On first down at the Detroit 38 late in the fourth quarter, Kelly put two tight ends, Celek and James Casey, on the right side of his O-line.

The Lions had brought Delmas into the box on the other side of the formation. At the snap, Foles again handed off from the shotgun, this time to young bruiser Chris Polk.

As he did, Casey pulled across and cut off Delmas. Celek again took out Young, allowing rookie right tackle Lane Johnson to move forward and absorb middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch.

Meanwhile, Fairley was double-teamed by the guard and center on the left side.

Polk started to the right, but quickly cut behind the double-team on Fairely, on a well-designed counter play. The battering ram-style runner powered his way through the middle for the clinching touchdown from 38 yards.

The Lions had been solid against the run all season, ranking sixth in the NFL. But Philly's stable of versatile backs and Kelly's use of formation is destroying defenses on the ground.

The result is McCoy topping the league's rushing charts and the Eagles boasting the NFL's No. 1 running attack.

That could give the current NFC East leaders the edge in the playoff race.

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