Eagles Finish Dissension-Filled Week with Dominant Performance in Buffalo
(973espn.com) - A week of dissension was the prelude to 60 minutes of domination as the Eagles ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns -- one each by Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard -- en route to an easy 31-13 win over Buffalo which snapped an ugly two-game losing streak.
Philadelphia improved to 4-4 on the season and just one-half game behind idle Dallas in the NFC East with the second half of the season still to play, something that might push general manager Howie Roseman over the line when it comes to pursuing help prior to Tuesday's trade deadline.
A setback after a week featuring hand-wringing over anonymous quotes from the locker room, a number of grenades lobbed on national platforms from the recently-deposed Orlando Scandrick, and the shocking 911 call from an alleged domestic-incident at Fletcher Cox's South Jersey home could have shifted the Eagles' thought process from buyers to standing pat.
Howard was the thunder against the Bills, running for 96 yards on 23 carries, the most ever by a RB in the Doug Pederson era, and Sanders was the lightning with a 65-yard third-quarter TD behind great blocks by Isaac Seumalo and Howard himself as Pederson went to a rare two-back look.
Sanders, however, did leave the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury but not before piling up 74 yards on just three totes and adding another 44 yards on three receptions.
On an extremely windy day in Western New York, the Eagles were judicious with the passing game as Carson Wentz finished 17-of-24 for 172 yards and a TD to Dallas Goedert.
A raw, young quarterback in that weather was exactly what an embattled Philadelphia defense needed as well with Jim Schwartz's unit piling up four sacks and key strip and fumble recovery from Brandon Graham that turned a 7-3 deficit into an 11-7 edge in short order just before halftime.
The Eagles defense allowed only 253 total yards despite using two defensive tackle playing in their first NFL games, starting nose tackle Anthony Rush and Albert Huggins.
The secondary was bolstered by the return of Ronald Darby, who started at right cornerback opposite Jalen Mills.
Cox was credited with 1 1/2 sacks and shared one with Derek Barnett, while Graham and Nate Gerry has the others.
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THE RUNNING GAME - The 218 rushing yards by the Eagles was the most since Pederson became head coach and the most for the franchise since 2014. Howard showed he is the volume back he had been in Chicago, Sanders finally ran with some self-assuredness and Wentz even got involved with some designed runs.
THE OFFENSIVE CREATIVITY - The weather forced Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh to do some different things because the downfield throw just wasn't going to be there. In many ways, the wind was the MVP for the Eagles because it forced the Philadelphia coaching staff out of its stagnation.
RONALD DARBY AND JALEN MILLS - Mills returned last week and Darby was back in Buffalo and the back seven just looks more confident. Part of that was facing a raw, inaccurate QB but make no mistake this team is much better with these two as the starting corners.
MACK HOLLINS - Hollins is literally hibernating. This time he wasn't even targeted, never mind actually getting a reception. The WRs were never going to have a big day in this kind of environment but the Eagles are essentially playing 10 on 11 when he's out there.
NELSON AGHOLOR - After flashing early with a 16-yard run, Agholor settled into little productivity finishing with seven yards on four receptions and seven yards on two carries
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen