Philadelphia Eagles

Nine years after Shady in the snow, Sanders is huge in the rain

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Last time an Eagles running back had 27 carries in a game, it was late in the 2013 season, the Linc was blanketed in snow, and LeSean McCoy was unstoppable.

Shady rushed 29 times for 217 yards – including 4th-quarter TDs of 40 and 57 yards – and the Eagles came back from an early 14-0 deficit to beat the Lions in the Eagles’ own version of the Snow Bowl.

Turn the snow to rain and turn Shady into Miles Sanders and you have Eagles-Jaguars.

The circumstances were different, but the result was the same, an Eagles running back with a career rushing high at the center of a spirited comeback from a 14-point deficit in terrible conditions at the Linc.

Nine years ago, it was Shady, and on Sunday Sanders ran 27 times for a career-high 134 yards as the Eagles came back from 14-0 in the first quarter to beat the Jaguars 29-21.

And he did most of the damage with Jack Driscoll playing left tackle for the first time in his life in place of Jordan Mailata and some of it later in the game with Sua Opeta at right guard in place of Isaac Seumalo.

Sanders was a beast.

He splashed his way to a 35-yard run in the third quarter, but for the most part this was Sanders hammering his way up the middle for tough, physical yards that the Eagles desperately needed.

“I think Miles ran really hard today,” Jalen Hurts said. “Miles protected the ball. Everybody protected the ball. He made plays. You see him running up the diagonal route, cutting across the field. He played angry, in my opinion. He played with a purpose this afternoon. He deserves it. He had a hell of a game.”

Sanders has been very good all year. But this was really a big-time performance in terrible conditions that grew steadily worse as the game went on.

With the weather making the passing game more and more challenging, Sanders kept coming up huge. In the second half alone, he ran for 76 yards.

Most importantly, on a day when ball security was virtually impossible – the Jags fumbled five times – Sanders finished with 29 touches, 156 scrimmage yards, two touchdowns and no fumbles.

“Definitely getting in the groove,” Sanders said. “My job is to be ready whenever they call my number. Whenever they call my number, I’m going to be ready, regardless. With the weather being the way it was, we leaned on our offensive line, and our offensive line had a heck of a game.

“Whatever the weather conditions are, we practice in this type of stuff. We do everything we can to be prepared for this type of stuff. Obviously, we’re still going to pass the ball like we did today, but with the offensive line that we have, we’re going to lean on them. Over 200-yards rushing – that’s a day.”

Sanders is off to the best start of his four-year career, with 356 yards and a 4.9 average through four weeks.

His 356 yards are 7th-most in franchise history through four games and most since Shady had 468 four games into his all-pro season in 2013.

He’s third in the league in rushing – behind only former college teammate Saquon Barkley [463 yards] and Nick Chubb [459] – and he’s really stacking quality game on top of quality game. He’s had 13 or more carries four straight weeks for the first time since late in his rookie year.

Sanders has rushed for 2,795 yards, and that’s 3rd-most in Eagles history by a player in his first 44 games – behind only Wilbert Montgomery [2,915] and McCoy [2,889]. And both had a lot more carries than Sanders.

With 38 yards from Hurts, 19 with a 10-yard TD from Kenny Gainwell and 19 yards from Trey Sermon on two carries in his first game as an Eagle, the Eagles finished with 210 rushing yards – their NFL-best seventh 200-yard rushing game under Nick Sirianni.

They’re 6-1 in those games.

“Our offensive line, I’ll take them over anybody in this league,” Nick Sirianni said. “I love that group. They are gritty. They are grimy. They are tough. They are physical. And we had to play some (different) guys today.

“You can see how good of a job that coach Stout does of developing guys and getting guys ready to play that might not play. Jack Driscoll, Sua, those guys stepped in and did a really nice job.”

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