Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews hadn’t rushed for 100 yards since September 2015.
That streak ended for the former Fresno State star on Sunday, when he rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in a 24-15 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“The line played great today,” Mathews was quoted. “You have to give (credit) to them, they really did all that they could to open up holes for us. I know the linemen love run-blocking, too, but it’s just fun. It was hard. You have to give it to (Atlanta), they played great. We just did what we needed to do to win.”
It also marked only the second time in the seven seasons since Mathews joined the NFL as a first-round pick by San Diego that he has rushed for at least 100 yards while scoring two touchdowns. The other time was as a Chargers rookie, when he ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-28 victory over the Denver Broncos. Mathews reached the 100-yard level 12 times during his five years with San Diego.
Mathews this season has a career-high eight touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving). He is the fifth Eagles player since 1950 to record at least seven rushing touchdowns in the first nine games of a season, according to the team, joining LeSean McCoy (10 in 2011), Ricky Watters (eight, 1996), Wilbert Montgomery (seven, 1982) and Billy Ray Barnes (seven, 1958).
“I’ve always had confidence in Ryan Mathews,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “I think what you saw today is the guy I kept seeing and the guy we all wanted to see, and I fully had confidence in him, as I do with Darren (Sproles) and Wendell (Smallwood) and Kenjon (Barner). I put the ball in his hands and he did a nice job.”
Carr in Rooney hunt – Oakland’s Derek Carr, already drawing MVP talk for his physical exploits, now is earning acclaim for his character.
The third-year quarterback out of Fresno State is the Raiders nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents and integrity in competition.
Eight finalists will be selected by a panel of former players, then placed on the Pro Bowl ballot for all current players to vote for on Dec. 16. The winner will be announced Feb. 4, the night before the Super Bowl. Last season’s winner was then-Raiders safety Charles Woodson.
Et cetera – Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams (Fresno State) had six receptions for 156 yards, but the Packers fell to the Tennessee Titans 47-25 on Sunday.
▪ Los Angeles safety T.J. McDonald (Edison) finished with four tackles in a 9-6 victory over the New York Jets. Rams offensive lineman Cody Wichmann (Fresno State) started at guard.
▪ Jets defensive tackle/linebacker Sheldon Richardson (College of the Sequoias) had seven tackles, including two for a loss, as well as a quarterback hit.
▪ Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (Tulare) had two receptions for 24 yards in a 25-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
▪ Saints defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (Fresno State) totaled four tackles.
▪ San Diego’s Isaiah Burse (Fresno State) had three punt returns for 45 yards and returned a kickoff for 21 in a 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Offensive tackle Kenny Wiggins (Fresno State) got the start for the Chargers.
▪ Pittsburgh Steelers safety Robert Golden (Edison) had two tackles in a 35-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
▪ Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (Sequoias) had six tackles, one for a loss, and a pass deflection in a 20-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
▪ The Eagles signed tight end Marcel Jensen (Fresno State) to the practice squad.