Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders entered Week 17 dealing with a bit of a knee injury. He missed a walk-through early in the week, then showed up sporting a brace for Sunday’s game. Physically, Sanders wasn’t limited — although the team seemed to put the clamps on him with the game plan.
Sanders carried just two times in the first half and picked up 9 yards. Odd to see the Eagles not feeding their Pro Bowl rusher who has 1,236 yards on 248 carries, which is the fifth-best mark in the entire NFL. Sanders also ranks No. 4 in rushing touchdowns (11) and No. 10 in yards-per-carry (5.0) through 16 games played. It would stand to reason that Nick Sirianni would want to get Sanders going, especially with the way his offense slogged on Sunday.
“Real tough. That was just bad football all around,” Sanders told reporters after the game. “Not all around, just offensively in my opinion. Gotta be better. Can’t win no games like that.”
Sanders saw more touches in the second half, finishing with 12 carries for 61 yards — and he did it on only 22 snaps. The offense just never got untracked against New Orleans aside from a big splash touchdown toss to A.J. Brown. The Eagles went into the halftime locker room with a dismal 61 yards of total offense.
They also committed 8 total penalties, including 6 pre-snap ones. All self-inflicted wounds by the Eagles. There was nothing revolutionary that the Saints’ defense was doing to them, according to a dismissive Sanders.
“Honestly, it was nothing that they did special, it was all self-inflicted wounds,” Sanders said. “Pre-snap penalties and not executing a lot of stuff so … it’s all lessons, I don’t think nothing is negative, we need games like this, especially right before the playoffs. It’s not good to have games like this but it’s a lesson to have games like this and just learn from it, honestly. Take it one game at a time now.”
Sanders Addresses Knee Injury, Lack of Touches
The Saints controlled the time of possession all afternoon. They held the ball for 37:04, including 22:50 in the first half alone. The Eagles faced a ton of third-and-long situations in the game, but it was still shocking to see Sanders touch it only twice prior to halftime.
The Penn State product had every right to criticize the play-calling. He didn’t. Sanders wouldn’t take the bait when reporters baited him into questioning the coaches.
“No, nothing really as far as me not getting the ball,” Sanders said. “It’s self-inflicted wounds, in my opinion. We just gotta clean that stuff up before it gets real.”
Further, Sanders wouldn’t blame the lack of early success on his knee injury. He felt fine, with no problems cutting or sprinting on it.
“Did it look alright? I don’t know, I don’t know,” Sanders said when asked about the knee brace. “It felt good. It didn’t really hold me back from doing nothing but it felt good. It’s a little different playing with it but I got comfortable.”
Sirianni Credited Saints’ Defense, Blamed Himself
Head coach Nick Sirianni couldn’t break the offense’s funk. Gardner Minshew was sacked on two consecutive dropbacks on the Eagles’ first offensive possession, then threw an 8-yard completion to Kenny Gainwell before the punt unit came out. Miles Sanders got two consecutive carries on the next drive before another Minshew sack forced fourth down. The Eagles punted four times in the first half and trailed 13-0.
“I think you have to give credit to that defense. That’s a good, well-coached defense with good players,” Sirianni said. “Obviously, we didn’t put the players in good enough positions to succeed. We didn’t execute well enough. It’s always going to be those two things.
“Why did that happen? Again, it’s always going to be coaching, always going to be execution; and then obviously give them credit as well.”