EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Late last week, Eagles coach Doug Pederson was asked whether there still would be a role in the offense for running back Boston Scott given that Jordan Howard had finally been cleared to play after missing six games with a neck/shoulder injury.
“Oh, yeah," Pederson said. “Boston Scott has done enough to still be involved. I think you still go in [to the Giants game] with Miles [Sanders] and Boston. Jordan is still getting caught up and getting back into game shape.’’
Scott ended up being more than involved in Sunday’s division-clinching 34-17 win over the Giants. He was one of the headliners.
With Sanders going down with an ankle injury early in the second quarter and Howard essentially a spectator in his first game back, Scott stepped up and notched 138 yards from scrimmage and had three rushing touchdowns in a game that vaulted this injury-ravaged football team into the playoffs for the third straight year.
“It’s the next-man-up mentality," said the 5-foot-6, 203-pound running back, who spent the first five weeks of this season on the team’s practice squad. “That culture has been built here."
Sanders, the Eagles’ prolific second-round rookie who came into the game with 1,254 yards from scrimmage, rushed for 52 yards on nine carries on the Eagles’ first four possessions before injuring his ankle on an 11-yard run early in the second quarter.
Scott pretty much played every snap the rest of the game. His rushing numbers — 54 yards on 19 carries — weren’t particularly impressive. But he had three touchdowns as well as 84 receiving yards on four screens, which have become a staple of the Eagles’ offense in light of all of the injuries to their wide receivers.
"We just do a really good job with them,'' Scott said of the screens. "The offensive line is really athletic and blocks well. We’ve been practicing it a lot. It works well. It’s been working real good.''
Scott picked up 29 yards on a second-quarter screen that helped set up Carson Wentz’s 24-yard touchdown toss to tight end Josh Perkins.
In the third quarter, he had 8- and 15-yard runs on a nine-play, 62-yard drive that he capped off with a 7-yard touchdown run.
He scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter after a momentum-shifting Giants turnover. Later in the quarter, he took another screen from Wentz 39 yards down to the Giants’ 2-yard line. He scored on the next play to make it game, set, and match.
“Boston’s a guy who opened eyes the moment he stepped on the field for us,’’ center Jason Kelce said. “He’s shown that he’s a very valuable player in this league.’’
After being promoted from the practice squad, Scott’s workload was initially limited to late-game carries and catches. But in the Eagles’ 23-17 overtime win over the Giants three weeks ago, he rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and had six catches for another 69 yards.
He had 13 touches in the Eagles’ Week 15 win over Washington and nine last week against Dallas. But he was complementing Sanders in those games. On Sunday, with Sanders on the sideline and Howard not ready to contribute, Scott had to step up. And he did.
“This league is all about being able to produce,’’ Scott said. “After the first Giants game, that was my attitude. Continue to learn. Continue to grow. Continue to adjust to the game and make the most of my opportunities.
“Doug Pederson has had confidence in me. The coaching staff has had confidence in me. I’m grateful they’ve continued to put me out there. Because I have made some mistakes out there.’’
You’d have to look hard to find them Sunday. Without Scott, without the other former practice squad players who have stepped up for this team in recent weeks, the Eagles would be spending this week making offseason plans rather than getting ready for a playoff game.
“I don’t get it,’’ nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters said after the game. “They’re on the roster. That means they’re good enough to play.’’
Kelce was a little bit more impressed by Scott’s performance.
“With Miles going down and Jordan still hindered a little bit, a lot was put on his shoulders,’’ he said. “But he handled the load.’’
Scott said he just did what he was asked to do.
“It’s just the result of the machine that is our offense,’’ he said. "Doug Pederson puts us in situations to be successful and we try to capitalize on those situations. That’s really all it was.
“This is my second year in the league. There still is a lot to learn. The game is going to keep slowing down for me. I really have to clean up some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and continue to build on the direction I’m going in. I’m not satisfied at all. There are things I need to clean up and continue to work on if I want to become the player I want to be.’’