Buffalo native rumbles over Eagles

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- They're talking proud in Buffalo.

The Bills may be far removed from the post-season but on a cold day in the City of Brotherly Love a former star with the University of Buffalo came up big when his team needed it most.

Rushing virtually out of nowhere came Niagara Falls, N.Y., native James Starks who set the Philadelphia Eagles defence back on their heels Sunday as he set a Green Bay rookie post-season rushing record by gaining 123 valuable yards on 23 carries to play a big part in Green Bay's 21-16 victory.

Coming into the game, Starks had gained all of 101 yards on the season in 29 carries but in the Packers' biggest game of the season he quickly became coach Mike McCarthy's go-to guy.

"He established the hot hand early and I rode it," McCarthy said of switching up his game plan on the fly and riding what Starks was providing.

"We're very proud of him individually. It speak volumes about our offensive line and I thought he did a very good job hitting the holes."

At the start of the season, Ryan Grant was the Packers' main man as far as running the ball, but in their very first game -- against the Eagles -- Grant suffered a season-ending knee injury and Green Bay has been hobbling ever since.

With Grant on the sidelines, their offence consisted of the ability of Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball -- but that wasn't going to take them far in the playoffs and McCarthy knew it.

Starks, meanwhile, missed his senior season at Buffalo due to a shoulder injury and most of this season due to a hamstring problem.

But on a day when it counted most, he was aces.

"That's the way you have to be able to play in the NFL to win long term," McCarthy said. "To win week in and week out, you've got to have the combination of run and pass and that was our plan today."

In the glow of victory, Starks seemed more relieved than elated. But boy, did he look proud of himself.

"It was a team effort and the offensive line did a great job and that made it a lot easier for me," he said. "I'm really excited, very excited and happy. I'm just blessed that I had the opportunity to perform."

Before the game there was no way he would have guessed that they'd call his number 23 times.

"I really didn't anticipate it," he said. "Coach told me that I just have to be ready for any situation. I'm happy with it and want to keep it rolling.

"You are expected to produce when your number is called on this team. The coaching staff put me in a great situation today and I am really thankful for that."


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