What a difference a Sunday can make.
All week, the leaders in the Eagles’ locker room repeated the same refrain: We’re angry. We’re embarrassed. We’re going to play better, stronger, more dominant this Sunday.
The only problem was Eagles fans, even casual observers of the team, had heard that one before. They had heard it two weeks ago after the 38-20 loss to the Vikings, and then again last week after the team was blown out by the Cowboys 37-10. Philadelphians responded accordingly, venting on social media and in Wawa lines across the region.
But on Sunday afternoon, on a rainy, windy mess of day in upstate New York, the Eagles finally made good on that promise, beating the Buffalo Bills 31-13 and improving their record to 4-4. They were propelled by a strong ground game and the leadership of veterans on both sides of the ball.
In his postgame press conference, coach Doug Pederson had a message for the critics who’ve spoken of a fractured Eagles locker room.
“It’s a close locker room, and I think today was proof of that, the way these guys played together,” Pederson said. "The excitement, the enthusiasm showed today.”
Quarterback Carson Wentz went 17 of 24 for 172 passing yards and ran for 35 yards. Looking ahead, he said he and his teammates have to “just try and keep everyone together. It’s easy when losses come to want to point fingers, but we want to make sure we’re all on the same page going forward.”
Some more of Pederson’s and Wentz’s thoughts on the game from their press conferences:
On Miles Sanders’ 65-yard touchdown run
Pederson: “Jordan [Howard] had a tremendous block on that play, and Miles just kind of pulled away and showed his speed.”
Wentz: “That [block] was sweet, by the way. The first thing I said to Miles was, ‘You better give your other boy some love on that’ ... I can’t say enough good things about those two guys.”
On the weather’s effect
Wentz: “It was interesting weather, probably as windy as I had played in. Took me back to the good old days on my playground in North Dakota."
Pederson: "I felt comfortable, really, in the conditions. The conditions warranted more of a running game. Our offensive line is a prideful group. They’d run the whole game if they could.”
On the atmosphere in the locker room after the win
Pederson: “I told them I was proud of them, and how they handled their business in this last week, with some of the distractions ... This was a great team win and I told them that after the game.”
Wentz: “This was a huge win. I feel good about it ... 4-4 is not where we wanted to be, but hopefully this will propel us going forward."
On what this win means for the rest of the season
Pederson: “We needed a win to keep us at 4-4 and keep us in the hunt, in the conversation. It would’ve been a lot harder had we lost this football game.”
Wentz: “I just think this is going to bring us closer together ... It’s huge, and I think it speaks a lot to the veterans and guys being hungry, hungry to get back on the field and get the taste of losing out of their mouth.”