Well, that was different.
After two uninspiring road losses to the Vikings and the Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles came out Sunday looking like a different, more aggressive team. They cruised to a 31-13 win on the road against the Buffalo Bills, and improved their record to 4-4.
Despite the loss of Miles Sanders in the third quarter to a shoulder injury, the offense tore it up on the ground, logging more than 210 rushing yards. Three running backs -- Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Boston Scott -- recorded touchdowns. Howard finished the day with 23 carries for 96 yards.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end Brandon Graham, safety Malcolm Jenkins, and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox all had strong showings after being criticized in previous weeks.
The Eagles will take on the Chicago Bears (3-4) at home next Sunday.
Eagles tack on another TD, capping dominant 8-minute drive
Jordan Howard runs the ball up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown at the end of a clock-eating 14-play, 83-yard, 8-minute drive midway through the fourth quarter.
Two plays before, Carson Wentz hit tight end Zach Ertz for an 18-yard gain on third down, one of three the Eagles converted during that possession.
Elliott makes the extra point to put the Eagles ahead 31-13 with a little more than six minutes remaining.
Bills go for it on fourth-on-10, can’t convert
Inexplicably, the Bills opted to go for it on fourth-and-10 from the Eagles’ 29-yard line. Allen’s pass to wide receiver John Brown fell incomplete. The Eagles offense takes over on downs.
Speaking of offense, running back Jordan Howard is fine to return, but Miles Sanders remains questionable with that shoulder injury.
Eagles force Bills to punt, fumble on return
Late in the third quarter, the Eagles defense forced Buffalo to punt, but Boston Scott fumbled on the return, handing the ball back to Buffalo for another possession.
Miles Sanders questionable to return
The Eagles’ top, healthy running backs Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard were both evaluated on the Eagles’ last scoring drive. Scott filled in for Howard, who apparently took a helmet to the forearm, while Sanders went to the locker room to be evaluated for a shoulder injury. He is questionable to return.
Eagles score, take back double-digit lead
Running back Boston Scott takes the handoff and runs his way into the end zone for his first career touchdown. The score puts the Eagles ahead by double digits once again.
Elliott makes the extra point.
Bills fire back with their own touchdown, Eagles block PAT
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen connects with running back Devin Singletary on a 28-yard touchdown pass on third-and-13 to bring the Bills back within striking distance.
On the extra-point attempt, Derek Barnett blocked the kick, but the Eagles were unable to recover the ball. The Birds take over at Buffalo’s 36-yard line.
Miles Sanders scores on explosive touchdown run
Rookie running back Miles Sanders took off for a 65-yard run to score on the Eagles first possession of the second half. Before today, the Penn State product been a surprising asset in the passing game, but hadn’t quite found his groove in the ground game. On that play, however, he showed his speed and explosiveness, and gave the Eagles a double-digit lead.
After the score, Jake Elliott missed the extra point. The ball doinked off the left upright.
Eagles go to locker room up by 4, will get ball to start second half
The Bills tried to narrow the lead with a last-second 53-yard field goal attempt, made possible in part by a controversial unnecessary roughness call on Eagles tight end Zach Ertz during the two-point conversion. Kicker Stephen Hauschka couldn’t make it happen. Eagles will receive to start the second half.
Eagles grab lead before halftime, make two-point conversion
A forced fumble put the Eagles in position to score their first touchdown of the day, a 5-yard pass from Carson Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert.
Up against strong winds, the Eagles opted to attempt the two-point conversion and made it on a Miles Sanders’ run.
Eagles log first turnover of the game
Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham forced a Josh Allen fumble and recovered the ball, giving the Eagles the first turnover of the game. They take over at Buffalo’s 23-yard line.
Second quarter: Punts and more punts after Bills scoring drive
Since Buffalo scored to start the second quarter, three straight drives have ended in punts.
The Eagles have had the ball for more than eight minutes and run 14 plays in that period, but the Bills’ defense has kept them far from the end zone.
The offense showed a few promising signs, including Carson Wentz’s connection with Alshon Jeffrey for a big 13-yard gain on third-down. But they couldn’t hold onto any momentum.
Bills take the lead with touchdown
Buffalo gets ahead with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Cole Beasley on third-and-14 early in the second quarter.
The score capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive, during which Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Brandon Graham were both called for personal fouls.
Stephen Hauschka split the uprights for the extra point, giving the Bills a 7-3 edge.
Jake Elliott field goal puts Eagles on the board
Jake Elliott maintained his perfect record, nailing a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead with 3:38 left in the first quarter.
The field goal punctuated a solid nine-play, 54-yard drive that included a 25-yard catch-and-run from running back Miles Sander.
Fletcher Cox and Eagles defense start strong
Fletcher Cox’s play this season has been criticized, and he hasn’t looked like his usual dominant self since off-season foot surgery. But the All-Pro defensive tackle came out hot on the Bills’ first two possessions, back-to-back three-and-outs.
Before Sunday, the Eagles had allowed their opponent to score on the opening drive in six of seven games. With the help of a Cox sack, only his second of the season, and forced fumble on third-down, they forced the Bills to go three-and-out on the opening possession.
Welcome to the blog
Good afternoon and welcome to the live blog for the Week 8 Philadelphia Eagles-Buffalo Bills matchup. We’ll update you on all the big plays, scoring drives, and other Birds news right here, as it happens.
Coming off two straight road losses to the Vikings and the Cowboys, losses by a total of 45 points, players and coaches on this 3-4 Eagles squad have said they’ve practiced mad and embarrassed all week. Fans are waiting to see if all that anger pays off on the field against the 5-1 Bills.
The Eagles’ injury report is as long as it was last week, and the situation has forced them to start a rookie defensive tackle opposite veteran Fletcher Cox. Another rookie, Andre Dillard, will start again at left tackle. The offense remains without wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his field-stretching ability.
Their issues aren’t confined to the field, either.
The off-the-field drama of last week carried over to this one, with the anonymous quotes controversy continuing and Orlando Scandrick openly criticizing his former Eagles teammates and the front office in an interview on FS1.
Today’s game marks the first time the Eagles have played at Buffalo since 2011. Thanks for following along with our work at Inquirer.com/sports, and enjoy the game.
Pre-game stories of interest
Les Bowen has today’s inactives, which are predictable except for healthy scratch Nate Herbig, the rookie center.
Our Eagles beat writers make their picks for Eagles-Bills. Only Jeff McLane predicts an Eagles loss.
Paul Domowitch breaks down the critical stats you need to know before kickoff.
Domowitch also brings you the scouting report and key matchups. In the intangibles department, the Bills definitely have an edge against the struggling Eagles.
Columnist Mike Sielski unpacks the biggest problems for the Eagles. Among them: injuries on the offensive and defensive lines.