Eagles rookie running back Bryce Brown dives for the pylon following a 65-yard second quarter touchdown run against the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field.
In a season devoid of bright spots, Bryce Brown emerged as a highlight, at least for one night, during Monday Night’s 30-22 loss to the Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field.
As has been the trend with this team though, you have to take the bad with the good, as Brown also lost two costly fumbles late in the game.
The seventh round draft choice was so dominant in finishing with 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns, breaking Correll Buckhalter’s franchise record for single game rushing yards by a rookie, and he did it in the first half.
Unfortunately for Brown though, his strong night on the ground was undone by two late fumbles that cost the Eagles momentum down the stretch.
“Bryce really did what we thought he could do coming into the game,” Head Coach Andy Reid said. “He’s a talented kid, and it’s a shame that he had those two fumbles – particularly the last one, because he was on a roll. Those things cost you, and he’ll learn from it. He’s a smart kid and he’s very, very talented. He has got a great future.”
As dominant as the rookie was, the fumbles can’t be ignored.
“It’s little things,” Brown said of how to fix the fumbles. “You get caught up in the moment. You’re trying your hardest and trying to give it your all. You’re just trying to fight for your team. Even when you’re doing that, you have to remember that the little things count—protecting the ball is key.”
Brown, who had appeared in every game this season made his first career start on Monday and made the most of it, etching his name into the Eagles record book shortly after busting loose for a 65 yard touchdown with 11:38 remaining in the second quarter that pulled the Eagles to within 14-12.
“I think Bryce is a great running back,” Nick Foles said afterwards. “I think he’s shown that all season. He’s a very solid running back and he’s a guy who this would be a great game for him to learn from as well and he’s going to get better and work hard. He’s got a great mentality every time he comes to work so I was really proud of Bryce tonight and I know he was proud of the O- Line for opening up those seams for him.”
Brown later added a five yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 22-21 lead with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter. to add an exclamation point to his historic evening,, becoming the first Eagles rookie to rush for two touchdowns since Ryan Moates did it in 2005.
Brown’s scamper was the longest run for the Eagles since LeSean McCoy ran for 66 yards against the Giants in 2009.
“It obviously felt good and gave me a lot of confidence,” Brown said of reaching the end zone twice in his first NFL start. “Now I’m just excited and anxious to get back in the film room, go to practice and move forward. I’m looking forward to next week.”
The rookie out of Kansas State had previously rushed for 141 yards on 32 carries this season.
Brown’s road to the NFL and Philadelphia was a long and winding one. the 6′ 223 pound Wichita Kansas native began his career at the University of Tennessee and decided to leave the football program after his freshman season in 2010. However, he had to pay his own way after transferring to Kansas State because Volunteers Head Coach Derek Dooley chose not to release him from Tennessee’s program.
Eventually, Brown left the Wildcats early as well to enter the NFL Draft following the 2011 season to enter the draft this year where the Eagles made him the 229th overall selection.
Brown’s journey to Monday night’s start was just as bumpy as during Training Camp at Lehigh University, he was embroiled in a battle with Chris Polk to be the team’s third running back behind McCoy and Dion Lewis. However, after showing the ability to punch it in in goal line situations, and the propensity to get tough yards between the tackles, was awarded the backup job.
In the end though, the Eagles came up short and Brown understands that personal accolades and strong performances can’t measure up, when the team is in the midst of a seven game losing streak.
“My performance doesn’t matter to me at all,” Brown explained. “The important thing is us getting the win and that didn’t happen tonight. Like I said, I think a lot of that had to do with my two turnovers. I think that really, really cost us.”