Even the RB1’s preseason prediction of an All-Star team being assembled in Philadelphia came true with 17 Eagles being selected as Pro Bowl participants or alternates en route to a league-best 14-3 record. The final piece for Sanders is a Super Bowl championship and the path to that begins Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field against the New York Giants and Sanders’ one-time college teammate Saquon Barkley.
“We know the mission’s not finished,” Sanders said at his locker on Thursday. “Regardless of if we’re the one seed or the last seed, it’s not going to be easy. The Giants played a heck of a game last weekend. They’re going to come ready to play and expecting to win. It’s win or go home. That’s just the mentality of not looking over anybody.
“It’s playoff time.”
Like a strong run, the importance of finishing is all that’s left for Sanders and his case for a second contract in Philadelphia.
“A win would be a blessing,” said Sanders. “I ain’t going to lie. We got a lot of goals. The offseason stuff, that’s going to come. In God’s hands on that. All I’m focused on is today and trying to get ready for Saturday.”
Sanders has made a great case for himself but the Eagles typically don’t like to go overboard when it comes to finances at the RB position. The Pittsburgh-area native is at peace with his situation.
“I’m at a space where I had a pretty good year, so I know God’s been handling everything,” he said. “It’s going to come. Now we got an opportunity of a lifetime and that’s all I’m worrying about right now.”
In his fourth season, Sanders has played in two prior playoff games — losses to Seattle after his 2019 rookie season and Tampa Bay after the 2021 campaign.
“I haven’t made it to the second round, so for us to be able to start in the second round is a blessing,” Sanders said. “It’s not going to be easy. Like I said, win or go home mentality. That’s on my mind. That’s what I’m going to go by. And that’s going to keep me locked in.”
Sanders had a respectable 69 yards on 14 carries in a 17-9 loss to the Seahawks in his first playoff game but like the rest of the team, struggled mightily with just 16 yards on seven carries against the Bucs last January.
“That just ain’t us. Bad taste in our mouths [from last year],” Sanders noted. “And we came in and handled business for this regular season. And we’re back in the same spot, playoffs. So, we’re trying to go farther than we did last year, go all the way, honestly. But we gotta take it one day at a time.”
Lessons were learned from the previous experiences, though.
“Everything’s a little bit faster,” Sanders explained. “You gotta think a little more quicker. You gotta be sharper. You’re going to get everybody’s best. Like I said, everybody got it in their head that it’s win or go home, so the margin of error is slim right now.”
As for his relationship with Barkley, who preceded Sanders as the lead back at Penn State, that’s on hold for the week.
The two haven’t talked or texted.
“Will see him [Saturday night],” said Sanders.