With their proverbial backs again the wall for the second consecutive week, the Philadelphia Eagles pulled off another second-half comeback on Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 37-27
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz stepped up on Sunday when his team needed him the most, just as he did in Week 14 against the New York Giants.
Additionally, he also received some much-needed help from rookie running back Miles Sanders. The former Penn State standout had an outstanding game against Washington, racking up 172 total yards on 25 touches and two touchdowns.
Within those 172 total yards, Sanders ran for a career-high 122 yards on 19 carries. He also set Eagles’ rookie records for most scrimmage yards (1,120) and rushing yards (687) in a season.
The 5-foot-11 running back, who was still finding his way earlier this season, has done an outstanding job picking up where veteran running back Jordan Howard left off.
“I mean, obviously I’m going to go out there and do my job regardless, but when you have guys banged up like that and the type of season I’m having, I was going to go out there and say, ‘Put the game on my shoulders and let’s go ball out.’ But I can’t do that without the O-line doing what they do,” Sanders said after Sunday’s game via the team’s website.
Before Howard went down with a shoulder injury in late November, Sanders was used predominately as the team’s change of pace running back and in the passing game.
In the Eagles’ first nine games of the season, Sanders only had 336 rushing yards, 305 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. He was also used frequently on wheel routes in the passing game, which posed matchup problems for opposing defenses.
Over that period, he was averaging a modest 8.4 carries per game but still managed to average 4.42 yards per attempt.
However, when you compare those stats to how Sanders is performing in the last five games, they are eerily similar. The former Penn State running back has 351 rushing yards, 128 receiving yards, and three total touchdowns since Week 10.
Sanders is also averaging 14.8 carries per game and 70.2 yards per game with a 4.7 yards per attempt average. That being said, the rookie’s playmaking abilities remind his teammates of LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster.
“He is on that Shady level. He’s smooth,” left tackle Jason Peters said (h/t ESPN). “He can catch, split him out, same as we did with Shady. He’s going to be a good one.”
“Arian at his peak, there was nothing he couldn’t do: receive out of the backfield, making guys miss, taking the ball [the distance]. We ran a zone back then — one cut downhill. He reminds me of him a lot,” right tackle Brandon Brooks said.
If Sanders can become the playmaker that both McCoy and Foster were in their heydays, then the Eagles’ running game will be in good shape for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, the Eagles will need Sanders to be that dynamic offensive threat next Sunday in another must-win game against the Dallas Cowboys.