PHILADELPHIA - Eagles running back LeSean McCoy couldn't contain himself Monday night.
After helping the Eagles open the season with an impressive, 33-27 victory at Washington, he burst into the interview room at FedEx Field and gushed about how much the players enjoyed themselves during the game.
"Tonight was the first time the entire team had fun in I can't tell you how long," said McCoy, who rushed for 184 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 31 carries.
"We came into the locker room at halftime and we couldn't wait to get back out there for the second half."
Eagles coach Chip Kelly was thrilled to hear it.
As happy as he was about starting off his tenure in Philadelphia with a big victory over an NFC East rival, he took even more satisfaction out of the players' reactions during and after the game.
Big plays produced back slaps and high fives from teammates. The offense cheered for the defense and vice versa, the result of a camaraderie that was built by Kelly before the season, when he broke up the cliques that had existed by switching up the locker room assignments.
"We talk all the time about how football is still just a game," Kelly said Monday night. "Sometimes we take ourselves a little too seriously. A football team doesn't always have to be run like a business. I wanted them to have fun out there and they did. This is what I hoped it would feel like and that's what makes it so special for me."
Kelly contributed to the excitement by setting a frenetic pace for the offense at the outset. McCoy, quarterback Michael Vick and company practically sprinted to the line of scrimmage between plays. When center Jason Kelce whipped shotgun snaps back to Vick, there was frequently more than 20 seconds still showing on the 40-second play clock.
Kelly's high-energy attack ran off 53 of its 77 total offensive plays in the first half, setting a pace that was so fast, even fans struggled to keep up with the action.
Unable to substitute, the Redskins' defense was soon gasping for breath. After a while, they managed to develop a series of mysterious ankle sprains and calf spasms that forced officials to stop the action.
"The whole key to this uptempo thing is to put the defense on its heels and in an uncomfortable position," Eagles center Jason Kelce said Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex. "Our job is not to interpret injuries, but just to keep up the pace. Whenever a defensive player is tired, you know you got them."
The Eagles' defense was also having a ball.
Their new 3-4 alignment frustrated Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, at least in the early going. Defenders flew at him and running back Alfred Morris from all angles.
Cornerback Cary Williams, who had drawn more attention during the preseason for his hot temper than his play, registered a sack and an interception.
Cornerback Brandon Boykin also had an interception. Outside linebacker Trent Cole forced a fumble and recorded a safety.
Inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks led the team with 10 tackles. Defensive end Fletcher Cox and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans each notched a sack.
"It was fun to get out there and just play football," Ryans said. "Football is a fun game. It's meant to be played like that, with a lot of energy and people flying around.
"I kind of have a bad taste in my mouth because we didn't close it out like I thought we should have, but it's easier to take when you still get a win."
The challenge for Kelly and the players is to sustain the pace for an entire game and season.
After building a 33-7 lead, Kelly eased up on the offensive accelerator instead of keeping it pushed to the floor. As a result, the Redskins rallied in the second half. The Eagles couldn't start celebrating until rookie linebacker Jake Knott recovered an onside kick with one minute, 14 seconds left in regulation.
There is also a question about the players' ability to maintain that speed and tempo for 16 games.
"Every week is a new season for us," Kelly said Tuesday during his day-after press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "We got tired in the fourth quarter, but you always have fatigue in the fourth quarter, no matter what team you're on or what you did. You've played a game, so you're not going to be as fresh as you were in the first quarter. The biggest thing is not to be as fatigued as the team you're playing against."
EXTRA POINTS: Kelly announced that cornerback Bradley Fletcher sustained a concussion against the Redskins. His status is uncertain for Sunday's home opener against San Diego. ... The Eagles re-signed cornerback Brandon Hughes on Tuesday after cutting him over the weekend. Because he was not on the active roster for Monday's game, the Eagles did not have to guarantee his $630,000 base salary for the entire season.
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