An undrafted rookie who began the season on the practice squad kept the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoff race.
Josh Adams helped the Eagles overcome deficits of 12-0 and 19-3 in a 25-22 victory over the New York Giants that moved the defending Super Bowl champions within one game of the Redskins and Cowboys in the mediocre NFC East.
The Eagles (5-6) host Washington (6-5) next Monday and visit Dallas (6-5) on Dec. 9.
Coach Doug Pederson has been searching for an answer at running back since Jay Ajayi sustained a season-ending knee injury in October and veteran Darren Sproles injured his hamstring in Week 1.
Adams emerged from a backfield that includes Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood. He ran for a season-best 84 yards on 22 carries against the Giants, including a 1-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion. Adams also had a 52-yard TD run negated by a holding penalty.
”To his credit, with taking advantage of some of the injuries, he has just kind of slowly worked himself into this position,” Pederson said Monday.
”It’s not to discount or discredit Corey and Wendell because they do a lot of great things as well. It’s just that Josh now has kind of taken that lead, and we continue to grow and try to increase his touches each week.”
Adams signed with the Eagles after playing three seasons at Notre Dame but was among the final cuts. He returned to the team on the practice squad and was promoted to the roster after the second game.
”It felt good to be out there,” Adams said after his breakout performance against the Giants. ”Obviously I got the start, but I just try to take it one play at a time, not looking past anything, relying on the guys in front of me, and taking one play and trusting what we were doing.”
Despite trailing New York most of the game, Pederson stuck with the run and relied on Adams running behind the offensive line instead of putting the burden on Carson Wentz’s passing arm. The Eagles are 5-0 this season when they run more than 25 times, 0-6 when they don’t.
”Any time we stay balanced as an offense, good things happen and you’re able to score points and sort of control the ball,” Pederson said. ”I think you look around the league, the common theme of teams that have that balance are winning games. I think that’s a formula you can carry moving forward.”