Grading the Eagles: Much-needed high marks in big win over Buffalo Bills | Paul Domowitch
The defense rebounded from two embarrassing performances and played well. The Eagles rushed for a season-high 218 yards. Now, it's report-card time.
Handing out Sunday’s grades:
The Eagles rushed for a season-high 218 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yarder by Miles Sanders out of a two-back, three-wide receiver package that they hadn’t used this season. Jordan Howard rushed for 96 yards and delivered the block that sprung Sanders for his long TD. And Carson Wentz converted a third-and-1 quarterback sneak on one touchdown drive and added two double-digit-yard third-down runs on a game-clinching 14-play scoring drive.
Wentz’s 70.1% completion rate was his highest since Week 1. His 25-yard screen to Sanders on the Eagles’ second possession set up a Jake Elliott field goal. He was 7-for-9 on third down, and five of those nine passes produced first downs. He seemed to regain some of his mojo with Alshon Jeffery, connecting with Jeffery on a 38-yard pass play on a third-quarter touchdown drive. For the fifth time in eight games, Wentz didn’t throw an interception.
The Bills came into the game with the league’s seventh-ranked rushing attack. After giving up 311 rushing yards in lopsided losses to the Vikings and Cowboys, Jim Schwartz’s defense did a decent job of redeeming itself, holding Frank Gore to 34 yards on nine carries. It had some problems with mobile quarterback Josh Allen, who had 45 yards on eight carries. But the Eagles held the Bills to five rushing first downs.
The Bills converted three third downs of 13 yards or more, all of which kept scoring drives alive. But overall, the Eagles defended the pass much better than they had the previous two weeks. They sacked Josh Allen four times and held him to 5.0 yards per attempt. Late in the third quarter, with the Bills driving and the Eagles clinging to an 11-point lead, Brandon Graham sacked Allen on a third-and-8, and cornerback Ronald Darby, playing for the first time since Week 3, followed with a nice breakup of a fourth-down pass for wide receiver John Brown.
Punt returner Boston Scott muffed a third-quarter punt that gave the Bills the ball in Eagles territory. Jake Elliott made his only field goal attempt -- a 37-yarder -- but hit the post with a third-quarter PAT. The Eagles gave up a 32-yard kickoff return to Andre Roberts. Derrick Barnett blocked a third-quarter PAT by the Bills’ Stephen Hauschka.
After two embarrassing losses to the Vikings and Cowboys, the Eagles needed a win Sunday against a very beatable 5-1 Bills team, and they got it. They ran the ball well. They controlled the clock for nearly 36 minutes. They turned it over just once. And with the exception of a few third-and-long breakdowns, the defense did a good job against both the run and the pass.