Philadelphia Eagles News

Vintage Darren Sproles Muscles Offense To Victory

In a must-win game for the Eagles' playoff hopes against a top team in the AFC, of course it was the crafty veteran who got the Eagles started.

After running back Darren Sproles took a rush on second down for a loss on the Eagles' first drive of the 32-30 win, he wanted to get right back on the field when the Eagles looked to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Houston 37-yard line.

Foles took the snap on fourth down and saw Sproles running a wheel route to his right. He connected with Sproles just as he beat the linebacker in coverage and he sped down the sideline. At the 5-yard line, he fought off safety Justin Reid and muscled his way into the end zone.

Vintage Sproles.

When speaking to reporters after the game, Sproles said he could see a big play coming when he got lined up.

"We knew they like to play a lot of man (coverage) and when they put a linebacker on me, we knew we had a chance," Sproles said. "They kept running a lot of man. I knew I could get open. … When you're feeling it, you just want the ball in your hands."

Sproles' touchdown was a tone-setter for the Eagles in the win. Although it was a back-and-forth game with plenty of mistakes, the offense made crucial plays when it counted. And plenty were made by Sproles.

When the Eagles faced a second-and-12 toward the end of the first half, Sproles ran for 11 yards to set up third-and-short. And on that third-down play, he ran a wheel route down the left sideline and caught a perfectly floated from quarterback Nick Foles for 31 yards.

Foles and Sproles were in rhythm all day. Sproles had 108 yards from scrimmage and 76 of them came in the air on three receptions.

"It actually was good," said Sproles about his chemistry with Foles. "We have a good feel for each other."

With 1:20 left in the game, the Eagles trailed by one and were in long field goal range at the Houston 35. While the Texans were expecting pass, Sproles took a handoff on a draw play up the middle for 16 yards.

The run against a tough defensive front that limited the Eagles to 57 total yards on the ground set up a manageable field goal of 35 that Jake Elliott made for the win.

In what could be his final home game as an Eagle, Sproles had a major impact.

"I almost missed the whole season," said Sproles, who missed 10 games with hamstring injuries. "So for me to come back and make a couple of plays, it felt good out there."

In a game that saved the Eagles' season and gives them a chance to qualify for the playoffs next week, Sproles came up clutch. It was a fitting game for in a season that he at one point seemed unlikely to finish.

Sproles injured his hamstring in practice after the Eagles' Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons. He aimed to return against Dallas in Week 10 after the bye week but suffered a setback in practice.

He made his triumphant return in the Eagles' Week 13 win over Washington when he gave the Eagles an early lead with a 14-yard touchdown run. Since then, he's had two more touchdowns and is back to being a intricate part of the offense.

"It means a lot," Sproles said. "Because there was a time I thought I wasn't going to be able to come back. But to have the role I had tonight, it felt great."

Sproles announced in July that the 2018 season would be his last. He missed nearly all of 2017 with a torn ACL, the season that was supposed to be his farewell tour, and wanted to go out on his own terms.

Despite the early-season issues, it seems that Sproles will go out of 2018 on his own terms, whether that be with postseason games or not. But when he's able to barrel through tacklers 10 years younger than him to get into the end zone, it's fair to wonder if Sproles has a little more left in the tank.

But he isn't focused that far ahead.

"I'm just going to take it one game at a time. We've got another game left."

Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.

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