When the Denver Broncos came to Philadelphia for a Sunday matchup, the game was predicted as a “first to 17 points wins” type of clash. The Broncos were coming in as the number one overall defense in the league while the Eagles defense was giving offensive coordinators nightmares. The game quickly turned into a one-sided shootout that ended in a 51-23 Eagles demolition of the Broncos.
The last time the Eagles put up a 50-burger was in 2013 against the Chicago Bears. Back then, Eagles undrafted rookie running back Corey Clement was likely in his freshman dorm room at Wisconsin watching the Sunday Night massacre with his roommates. This time, the lifelong Eagles fan and Glassboro-native was responsible for three of the Eagles’ seven touchdowns on the day.
Clement, the unlikely rookie who fought his way onto the Eagles roster and has earned not only activation on gamedays but significant playing time, has had a nose for the endzone at Lincoln Financial Field. Tied for third among rookies with five total touchdowns, all of the rookie’s trips to paydirt have come on his home field.
Despite his undrafted status, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson isn’t surprised at how well Clement has played in the first half of the season.
“You know what, I’m not [surprised],” said Pederson, “Because when we had him all the way back into rookie camp, you started seeing sort of flashes and signs of what he is and was capable of doing then and now. Again, 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. He can’t do it without the offensive line. But yeah, he’s one that [is a] very, very special running back right now and we’ll just keep him coming.”
Clement’s first touchdown of Sunday’s game came on a nifty screen play in which the running back caught the ball at the line of scrimmage in the center of the field. He weaved his way to an opening and took the ball 15 yards for the score.
His second score came on an option in which quarterback Carson Wentz read the outside linebacker and could keep the ball or toss it to Clement. Broncos linebacker Von Miller chose to stay with Wentz, who made the right decision to flip the ball to Clement who went untouched for the score.
“He’s grown a bunch,” said Wentz, who connected with Clement for the rookie’s first two scores of the game. “Seeing Corey all through training camp, he’s just a guy that wanted to work and wanted to learn. He’s just always ready whenever his number is called, and today he made the most of them. He’s a heck of a back, heck of a player and heck of a teammate as well.”
After a career day, some would expect a rookie to relish in the glory of having three touchdowns in a blowout game on his home turf. Not Clement, though. From modesty to how he could improve, the rookie did not let his big day get to his head.
“I was just playing football,” said Clement. “Today was a great day on both sides of the ball. At the same time, we are going to go back and correct what we messed up today. It is the nature that we have with this football team. We always want to be perfect, but it is not always ideal. So we are going to go back and see if we can get better. This team did a great job today, but at the same time, we are going to keep going.”
The Eagles running backs combined for 190 rushing yards on Sunday. Before the Eagles, the Broncos defense was allowing an average of just 73 rushing yards per game. Ajayi lead the way in his first game as an Eagle with 77 yards and a score while Blount and Wendell Smallwood added 37 and 25 yards, respectively.
Clement finished the day with 51 yards on 12 carries and a 15-yard reception and three total touchdowns. The Eagles have not had an undrafted rookie score five touchdowns in a season since 1953. The Eagles are just nine games into the season and Clement certainly has more to show. As his quarterback and head coach said, he is doing nothing but getting better. Despite the crowd in the backfield, Clement has proven that he is worthy of a heavy workload.
Follow Brenden on Twitter @brendenp2011.