Westbrook heeded Runyan's advice on not-TD vs. Cowboys
The Eagles were clinging to a 10-6 lead over their hated rivals with just over two minutes left when Westbrook broke through the line and into the open field. But rather than scoring the touchdown that could have put an emphatic end to a big upset, Westbrook stopped at the 1-yard line and went to the ground, allowing the Eagles to run out the clock on the Cowboys.
All because he could hear his right tackle's earlier advice in his mind and urgent orders in his ear.
"I got a stern talking-to by Runyan right before that play," Westbrook said after the game. "He said, 'Listen, if you're down to the 1, take a knee.'"
Westbrook didn't know if it was a good idea, but Runyan did.
"He was like, 'Take a knee, Westbrook, take a knee,'" Westbrook said.
Runyan was so sure it would be better for the Eagles to run out the clock rather than score and risk a freak comeback, he pursued his running back downfield on the play, yelling the whole time.
"I looked back and I saw all 6-7 or 6-8 of him running toward me saying, 'Get down,'" Westbrook said. "So, I got down."
Eagles coach Andy Reid credited Westbrook's Villanova education for the decision to stop short of the goal line, but at least some credit should go to -- in the words of Bo Schembechler -- a Michigan Man.
"They were going to let us score to get the ball back, so I suggested this because then they won't get it back," Runyan said. "In a crazy game like this, you never know, you are a long kickoff return or a crazy play and an onside kick away from possibly losing the game."
Reid admitted Monday that Runyan is "a smart guy" but said he was more impressed that Westbrook -- who isn't really programmed to throttle down in the open field -- was able to listen to his tackle's advice.
"Whether Jon Runyan was making the call or not, for a running back to execute it and understand what's being said when you're going in for a touchdown is something else," Reid said.
"Sometimes it's hard to get a guard and a tackle to communicate, let alone a running back who's 15 yards down the field to listen to his offensive tackle," he said.
Reid said he hopes Westbrook's unselfishness is rewarded Tuesday when the results of the Pro Bowl voting are announced.
"I have a hard time believing anybody is doing it better than he's doing it right now at the running back position," Reid said. "He blocks, he catches, he runs. ... He's a valuable guy in a lot of areas. And he's not just OK in those areas, he's special in those areas."
Westbrook leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,896 yards and is tied for second in the NFC with 12 touchdowns. If not for his offensive tackle, he would have one more.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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