The Philadelphia Eagles faced a ton of adversity heading to this game against the Buffalo Bills, from players allegedly arriving late to practices to Orlando Scandrick's comments on the team's culture in the locker room, specifically calling out Malcolm Jenkins and his leadership. Not to mention the back-to-back blowout losses.
All the Eagles did was dominate the Bills in the trenches, running for 218 yards and scoring three touchdowns on the ground in a blowout victory to get back to .500 (4-4) on the year. The Eagles controlled the time of possession battle and became the first team to score more than 21 points against the Bills this season. The Bills defense came into this one ranking third in points (15.2), yards (292.7), and yards per play (4.7). The Eagles averaged 5.5 yards per play, scored 31 points, and had 371 total yards as they outscored the Bills 20-6 in the second half. To put it in perspective, only one team had 20-plus points against the Bills defense in a game all season.
Philadelphia had its fourth 200-yard rushing game under head coach Doug Pederson as Jordan Howard was just shy of becoming the first Eagles player in 36 games to run for over 100 yards (23 carries, 96 yards, and a touchdown). The Eagles controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the afternoon, allowing Carson Wentz to manage the game and connect on 17 of 24 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, finishing with a 104.9 passer rating. Wentz also had two runs of 10 yards or more in the fourth quarter on third down, finishing with five carries for 39 yards before using the last three carries to kneel down and run out the clock.
The Bills offense struggled with three fumbles from Josh Allen, finishing with just 253 yards on the afternoon. The game was plagued with a steady rain and over 40 mph winds, which limited the passing offenses in this one. The Eagles were able to control the ground game by keeping their halftime lead and forcing the Bills to be one-dimensional late.
Why the Eagles Won
The Eagles pounded the ball down the Bills throat, challenging a defense that entered the game 10th in the league in allowing 91.3 rush yards a game. All the Eagles did was run the ball for 218 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry in controlling the entire second half. With the weather conditions playing a factor, the Eagles got a rushing touchdown from Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott in the 18-point victory. Sanders averaged 24.7 yards per carry before exiting the game and Howard 4.2 yards per carry. Not counting the three kneel downs, Wentz averaged 7.8 yards per carry carrying the football. Efficient running allowed the Eagles to control the time of possession 35:57 to 24:03, forcing the Bills to face a double-digit deficit for the majority of the second half. That's not a good formula for a struggling Buffalo offense.
Why The Bills Lost
The Bills were gashed by the Eagles ground game, but their offense just didn't have enough firepower to compete with the Eagles. Buffalo has not faced a double-digit deficit since trailing 13-0 to the New England Patriots in Week 4, which affected them as they had to battle throwing the football into the wind in the fourth quarter. Being down 24-13 entering the fourth quarter didn't help matters, but the defense couldn't get off the field either as the Eagles had a 14-play, 83-yard touchdown drive that broke the back of the Bills defense and took 8:17 off the clock to ice the win. The Bills had a chance to get off the field three times, but the Eagles converted all three third downs. Three fumbles from Josh Allen didn't help matters either.
The Bills held a slim 7-3 lead when Josh Allen's second fumble of the game changed the course of the afternoon. Allen and the Bills faced a 3rd-and-2 coming out of the two minute warning and had his number called on a designed run. Brandon Graham read the play and knocked the ball out of Allen's hands, recovering the fumble at the Bills' 24-yard line with just under two minutes remaining.
The Eagles capitalized off the fumble recovery, taking 1:28 off the clock on a short field and scoring on a five-play, 24 yard drive to take an 9-7 lead after Carson Wentz found Dallas Goedert for a five-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles then scored on a two-point conversion on a toss to Miles Sanders, taking an 11-7 lead into halftime -- one they wouldn't relinquish. The only turnover of the game was the difference for Buffalo, as the Bills dominated the first half but still ended up with a halftime deficit.
Play Of The Game
On the second play coming out of halftime, Miles Sanders showed Eagles fans why he was a highly regarded second-round pick. The Eagles put Sanders and Jordan Howard in the backfield on this play, with Wentz faking the ball to Howard on his right and handing it off to Sanders, who was on his left. Howard provided the punishing block on Bills linebacker Matt Milano and Sanders was off to the races for a 65-yard touchdown, the longest of his career. The Eagles took a 17-7 lead on the touchdown run as Sanders improved his season yards per carry average from 3.5 to 4.45.
Sanders finished with three carries for 74 yards and had three catches for 44 yards, including a 25-yard catch off a screen that set the Eagles up for their first points of the game (a field goal for Jake Elliott). Sanders was the difference maker of the game, showcasing his immense potential in the Eagles' offense.
"All the stuff that went out this week is how you look at it. People saying this about us. People think they know what's going on in this locker room, they don't know nothing. To say we was divided, that was a stretch. That was a reach, for real." - Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham on all the outside distractions surrounding the Eagles, via Jeff Skversky of 6abc.
Graham lived up to the phrase "leaders lead" in this game, finishing with a sack, quarterback hit, forced fumble and two tackles for loss as the Eagles defense held the Bills to 13 points, 253 yards of offense and 4.4 yards per play in the win. The Eagles needed a performance like this from Graham and they got one.
The Eagles conclude their season-long three-game road trip with a 1-2 record and return home for the first time in 28 days to face the Chicago Bears. Philadelphia is 4-4 and a half-game behind the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. Chicago is 3-4 and last in the NFC North. The Bills fall to 5-2 and will host the Washington Redskins next Sunday, concluding their three game home stand. Buffalo is two games behind the New England Patriots in the loss column while Washington is 1-7 and last place in the NFC East.