INDIANAPOLIS –** Give him an inch and he gains five yards with that waterbug style, those quick feet and that surprisingly powerful burst. Darren Sproles has been everything the Eagles could have wanted and more through two games, and his contribution on Monday night helped bring the team back into a late-game duel and ultimately a thrilling 30-27 win over Indianapolis after a struggling first half.
Sproles' 19-yard run on second and goal late in the third quarter tied the game at 20-20 to set the stage for a wild fourth quarter. The play was a microcosm of what Sproles offers this team: he took the handoff and headed right and quickly reached the second level of the defense. Sproles then ran behind his shoulder pads and bulled his way into the end zone despite being hit at the 3-yard-line.
"I just caught it and saw some room and knew I had to get into the end zone," said Sproles. "It felt good to score there."
His twisting, turning effort was part of a monster night for Sproles, who followed his outstanding play from the opener with another terrific performance. In the win over Jacksonville, Sproles ran for 71 yards on 11 carries, including a career-long 49-yard touchdown run, and caught four passes for 14 yards. He also had 62 yards on four punt returns. That was the teaser.
On Monday night, he finished with 152 receiving yards, 26 rushing yards and 25 punt return yards on a total of 15 carries. That's 203 total yards on 15 touches.
"He's doing exactly what he did when he played at New Orleans," said safety Malcolm Jenkins, a former Saints teammate. "He does everything well and when he has the ball in his hands, good luck trying to get a good hit on him. Good luck finding him."
Tweeted former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins after the game, summing things up for every Eagles fan:
In addition to the spectacular 19-yard touchdown run, Sproles contributed the key play in a fourth-quarter drive that tied the game at 27-27 with 3 minutes, 25 seconds to go. He took a Foles screen pass and squirted into the clear, running up the back of center Jason Kelce and timing things up perfectly to gain 51 yards to move the ball from the Eagles 43-yard line to the Colts 6-yard line.
One play later, Foles threw to Jeremy Maclin for the touchdown and the game was tied at 27-27.
"He's amazing," said left guard Dennis Kelly. "You take your eyes off him and he's gone. I can't imagine how difficult he is to tackle."
"First and foremost, Darren's a receiver. I've said that since day one," said head coach Chip Kelly, chuckling. Kelly has insisted all along that Sproles is a running back and, clearly, he is capable of everything. "He's just a special player. He's just a dynamic football player."