The Eagles defense stepped up and ruined the return of LeSean McCoy to the City of Brotherly Love Sunday, as a 23-20 win helped the Eagles keep pace in the NFC East.
The Birds, who did not look particularly potent on offense nor on defense, did just enough on both sides of the ball while taking advantage of 15 Buffalo penalties for 101 costly yards.
With things tied at 20-all in the fourth quarter, the interception bug reared its ugly head for Sam Bradford and the Eagles, as the Birds were in the end zone threatening to retake the lead. With a teardrop pass looking to be thrown perfectly to Zach Ertz, Bills defensive back Leodis McKelvin snatched it from his hands to secure possession for Buffalo.
The Eagles defense held the Bills twice (with a 3-and-out in the middle) before getting the back with just over five minutes to play. Zach Ertz turned a quick slant into a beast-mode run, galloping 41 yards while breaking two tackles to get the Eagles into field goal range.
A Sturgis chip shot gave Philly a 23-20 lead with just over three minutes to go and the defense did it's job on the following Buffalo drive, giving the Eagles the chance to ice the clock and earn win No. 6.
They didn't exactly ice it, but after punting it back to the Bills with two minutes left, Ed Reynolds picked off Taylor to clinch the 'W'.
Offense does just enough
The Eagles used a big Fletcher Cox sack on defense early to spark the offense, as the Birds marched 61 yards on eight plays during their opening drive, utilizing all three of their running backs with Darren Sproles punching into the end zone to give Philly a 7-0 lead.
Two field goals, one as the first ended and one on the Birds' first second-half drive gave the Eagles a two-possession lead (paired of course with Nelson Agholor's long touchdown catch).
Aside from the fluky Bradford pick, the Eagles' quarterback was solid, managing the Eagles' offense to the tune of 247 yards on 23-for-38 passing. The numbers were not enemic, nor where they throughly impressive as the Birds were outgained 412-to-350 by the Bills.
The return of the king
The Eagles' all-time leading rusher was juiced up for Sunday's game and given a heavy workload by Bills head coach Rex Ryan. Serving as Buffalo's only captain at the pre-game coin toss, boos echoed through the Linc as the running back bent over and kissed the Eagles logo at the 50 yard line.
In the game, McCoy was responsible for 20 carries, tallying 74 yards (and adding four catches for 35 yards)and helping the Bills control the ball 35:14 to the Eagles' 24:46 time of possession.
There was no handshake after the game between McCoy and Eagles coach Chip Kelly -- McCoy sprinted off the field after the game finished.
Bend but don't break
The Eagles' secondary was, not unexpectedly, exploited by big-bodied receiver Sammy Watkins, who first broke through in the first with a 47-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-apiece. He would finish with five catches for 81 yards while Robert Woods added 105 yards on five catches of his own.
However, the unit came through in several big spots, most notably in the third quarter, stopping a Bills scoring march in its tracks and forcing Buffalo to settle for a 40-yard field at the 4:28 mark, keeping the Eagles ahead by a touchdown 20-13.
The ugly side of the defense shone through just minutes later after a Birds' 3-and-out as Philly allowed a big Tyrod Taylor scramble to pick up a third-and-long and set up Mike Gillisee 19-yard touchdown run that tied things at 20.
Philly's special teams unit did it again as well. In the second quarter the unit created a turnover as the Bills muffed a punt and Bryan Braman covered it up to give the Birds possession. After a couple holding calls Bradford went deep to Nelson Agholor, completing a 53-yard strike to the rookie to give him his first career NFL score.