ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- All Donovan McNabb was looking for was a few first downs to run out the clock. What he got was Brian Westbrook's 62-yard touchdown run to seal a 23-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
It was a breakthrough performance for what had been a sputtering Eagles' offense, and an important victory for a Philadelphia team (1-2) still stinging after being outscored a combined 48-10 in losses to Tampa Bay and New England.
McNabb looked refreshed and decisive after spending part of the team's bye week vacationing in Arizona. He even wouldn't allow himself to be bothered playing the final half with a jammed thumb on his throwing hand.
The thumb, McNabb said, was OK. The victory, sweeter.
"It felt good," McNabb said. "It was a great opportunity for us to come out fresh and we did that. Our offense made plays and our defense came up strong."
It didn't matter that the Eagles almost squandered a 16-0 fourth-quarter lead.
"We're fighters," McNabb added. "Confidence-wise, we had it. It was just about going out and executing."
McNabb finished 18-of-29 for 172 yards and added 47 yards rushing. The Eagles offense responded, racking up 335 yards after averaging just 256.5 in its first two games.
Westbrook's was the game-deciding play, coming after the Bills had cut the Eagles lead to 16-13 on Drew Bledsoe's 1-yard keeper with 2:49 remaining.
The Eagles responded 39 seconds later when Westbrook broke through a hole, foiled Pierson Prioleau's one-armed tackle attempt and went untouched the rest of the way.
Now it's the Bills' turn to worry, having lost two straight after opening the season with two impressive victories.
Offensively, Buffalo managed just 129 yards through three periods -- reminiscent of the 118 yards of net offense the Bills managed in last weekend's 17-7 loss at Miami.
"What can you do?" receiver Eric Moulds said. "We started off 2-0 and dropped the last two. ... It's hard right now. You have to pick out what you did in tomorrow's film and see what you did to help the team and what you didn't do to help the team."
Bledsoe didn't find his rhythm until it was too late, engineering two scoring drives - including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Shaw - in the final quarter.
Third-stringer Joe Burns finished with only 17 yards on eight carries.
Defensively, the Bills were inconsistent, particularly in allowing the Eagles to convert nine of 16 third-down attempts.
"We have to get a lot better," linebacker London Fletcher said. "We've gone from talking about winning the division to making the playoffs. And we have to play better, especially in our stadium."
The Eagles' defensive performance was particularly impressive, considering they were missing three starters and then lost cornerback Troy Vincent, who didn't return after straining his hamstring on Buffalo's opening possession.
"They did a great job stepping in and playing against a talented group of receivers and a great quarterback," coach Andy Reid said. "I'm proud of this football team. We hung together and did a great job."
The Eagles appeared to have the game in hand when they went up 10-0 on their first two possessions. The 10 first-quarter points matched Philadelphia's combined total in its first two games.
Philadelphia eventually went up 16-0 when Akers hit a 22-yarder with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
Westbrook, who finished with 11 carries for 96 yards, was impressed by how McNabb didn't let the offense falter.
"I think Donovan has always been a confident player, and he showed that today," Westbrook said. "When he plays well, his personality really shows."
Brian Westbrook runs for a 62-yard touchdown that breaks open the game. (AP)
|TD||Correll Buckhalter, 2 Yd run (David Akers kick is good), 10:18. Drive: 8 plays, 71 yards in 4:42.|
|FG||David Akers 26 Yd, 0:09. Drive: 16 plays, 65 yards in 8:36.|
|FG||David Akers 34 Yd, 0:09. Drive: 8 plays, 34 yards in 1:33.|
|FG||David Akers 22 Yd, 0:26. Drive: 14 plays, 70 yards in 9:24.|
|TD||Bobby Shaw, 3 Yd pass from Drew Bledsoe (Drew Bledsoe 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Eric Moulds failed), 9:12. Drive: 11 plays, 67 yards in 3:57.|
|TD||Drew Bledsoe, 1 Yd run (Rian Lindell kick is good), 2:49. Drive: 12 plays, 69 yards in 4:36.|
|TD||Brian Westbrook, 62 Yd run (David Akers kick is good), 2:10. Drive: 5 plays, 80 yards in 0:39.|
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