Before Sunday, the Denver Broncos hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Corey Clement, the Eagles’ undrafted rookie from Wisconsin by way of Glassboro, ran for two of them and scored another on a 15-yard screen up the middle in a 51-23 victory at the Linc.
Add this to the growing collection of things one did not see coming in this 8-1 Eagles season of magic and wonderment.
“It was three?” Clement asked a TV reporter who was soliciting his reaction. “I was just playing” — not counting.
Clement’s total of 51 yards on 12 carries was part of a 197-yard Eagles rushing effort, on 37 carries, against a defense that had been allowing 72.9 rushing yards per game.
“As a running back group, we take a great amount of pride in putting that amount of yardage on a great defense,” Clement said.
Clement just might take the sting out of not getting anything this season from fourth-round running back Donnel Pumphrey, on IR with a hamstring problem.
“He’s grown a bunch,” Carson Wentz said of Clement. “Seeing Corey all through training camp, he’s just a guy that wanted to work and wanted to learn. He’s just always ready when his number’s called. … He’s a heck of a back, a heck of a player and a heck of a teammate as well.”
The last Eagles running back with at least two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in the same game was Brian Westbrook on Nov. 27, 2008, vs. Arizona.
Asked if he was surprised by Clement, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said: “You know what, I’m not, because when we had him all the way back into rookie camp, you started sort of seeing flashes and signs of what he is and was capable of doing, then and now.
“He’s another one that we sort of increase his workload each week and he’s a smart guy. He’s really picking up the offense extremely well. He runs hard and he’s aggressive.”
Pederson noted that Clement and all the running backs benefited from the extraordinary effort Sunday of the Eagles’ Jason Peters-less offensive line, but then added that Clement “is a very, very special running back right now, and we’ll just keep him coming.”
The Eagles have rushed for 190 or more yards three times this season and have topped the 100-yard mark in every game.
This was a shocking outcome for Denver, which now has lost four in a row after a 3-1 start. It took five Broncos turnovers for the Chiefs to score 29 points against Denver last Monday night, the most points allowed by the Broncos this season before Sunday.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall was asked if his team quit.
“No, I don’t think we ever quit,” Marshall said. “I just think it was a weird game. I have not been a part of this type of game in the [five] years since I have been playing here. We gave up 51 points. They had almost 200 yards on the ground. I have never been a part of that type of game. It was kind of a freak-type game. The defense never plays that way.”
Marshall noted that the Broncos “had a lot of penalties” — 14 for 105 yards, nine for 70 in the first half, some to sustain Eagles drives.
“We turned the ball over [with two interceptions]. We just did not stop them at all in the first half. We did not stop the run. We did not stop the pass. They just torched us in all aspects.”
Denver coach Vance Joseph said that “every man has to do a self-check. Only each man would know what his heart said to him in the fourth quarter there, so that’s where I’ll leave that.”
Alshon Jeffery is beginning to produce like the No. 1 wide receiver the Eagles expected when they signed him in March. Jeffery led the Eagles with six catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and he now has three touchdowns in the last two games. It was his first multi-touchdown game since November 2014.
“Whenever my number’s called, I’m just trying to make a play,” Jeffery said. “Whether it’s run or block.”
In terms of areas for growth after the bye, Jeffery’s production is one place to look. He commands the attention of the top cornerback each week, but he’s just starting to make the big plays that made him such a coveted free agent. With Jeffery playing like a No. 1 wide receiver and Jay Ajayi’s arrival, the offense could be more dynamic.
“The sky’s the limit for this offense,” Jeffery said.
Rodney McLeod now has two consecutive games with an interception, although he was 11 yards shy of his first career touchdown Sunday, in his 88th NFL game.
McLeod intercepted Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler’s third-quarter pass at the Eagles’ 39-yard line. He returned it 50 yards before Broncos tackle Garrett Bolles tripped him before he reached the end zone.
The Eagles’ secondary is a competitive group, so McLeod knew he was going to hear about it.
“I was very upset I didn’t score,” McLeod said. “There were a lot of guys blocking. I felt like I had good vision. [Malcolm Jenkins] kind of tripped me up a little bit, but I don’t know where the lineman came from. I’m going to get teased for a little bit about letting an offensive lineman tackle me and not getting a touchdown.”
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