Four Downs: Eagles Win To Stay Tied Atop Division
The Eagles beat the Bills, 23-20, to remain tied for first place in the NFC East. Here’s what we saw.
MOST TELLING STAT: 3
That’s how many receptions Sammy Watkins recorded after his 47-yard touchdown catch in the middle of the first quarter. Buffalo got the wide receiver involved early in the game as he touched the ball or was targeted on four of their first nine offensive plays, but he didn’t hurt the Eagles much in the final 53 minutes of the game.
On Watkins’ touchdown catch, Byron Maxwell had poor press-man technique at the line of scrimmage as he barely touched Watkins and didn’t disrupt the receiver’s ‘go’ route. Because Maxwell didn’t jam Watkins, the corner quickly fell behind and got out of phase while Ed Reynolds was slow in helping the corner over the top.
However, on the next drive, Maxwell played a deep ball very well, putting himself in great position and turning around to play the ball and avoid a penalty. Malcolm Jenkins also had great coverage in the red zone to force a third-and-long, which Buffalo didn’t convert. Jenkins pinned the receiver close to the sideline and didn’t give him any room to come down with the ball in bounds.
The Eagles’ secondary was inconsistent, but they did enough to hold the Bills to less than 21 points for just the second time in Buffalo’s last nine games.
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The Eagles’ run defense continued to slide as they allowed 152 yards on the ground and 4.8 yards per attempt. However, LeSean McCoy totaled just 74 yards on 20 carries. Tyrod Taylor proved to be a dangerous threat with his legs as he accumulated 53 rushing yards on only eight attempts. The Eagles failed to stay in their pass rushing lanes on several occasions, opening up big holes for the quarterback.
The Eagles also topped 100 rushing yards, but they averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. In his first game back from his concussion, Ryan Mathews averaged the least amount of yards (2.9) among the three running backs who carried the ball. Darren Sproles led Philadelphia with 41 yards on just seven attempts, while DeMarco Murray rushed 11 times for 34 yards.
Sam Bradford continued his progression as he displayed improved decision-making. After throwing 10 interceptions in the first seven games of the season, Bradford extended his streak without an interception to 18 quarters. However, that ended in the fourth quarter when Leodis McKelvin ripped the ball out of Brent Celek’s hands for the pick.
Bradford completed 23 of his 38 pass attempts for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Four of Bradford’s incompletions went off of his targets’ hands, and he fit the ball into tight windows on several intermediate routes.
He made two outstanding throws: one to Nelson Agholor for a 53-yard touchdown and another deep ball to Riley Cooper that fell incomplete. Bradford attacked down field more against Buffalo than he did versus previous opponents, but he did miss Seyi Ajirotutu on a long throw down the middle.
While Philadelphia squeaked out a close one against Buffalo, Washington won in Chicago by three points. The Eagles remain tied for first place in the NFC East, although they would lose the tiebreaker.
However, it’s still a big win as they showed they can put together two good games in a row. Plus, the Eagles set themselves up so even if they lose next week against Arizona, they’ll make the playoffs if they win their last two games against Washington and New York.