Nelson Agholor's frustrating rookie season had its highlight Sunday when he caught a 53-yard touchdown pass in the Eagles' 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills. It was his first career touchdown and a positive sign for an offense that badly needs production from its first-round pick.
"It felt great, obviously, because it was a play that helped us out," Agholor said. "It was not just a touchdown just because, it was a touchdown that put us in position to make other plays. . . . I don't worry about [what took so long to score]. It happened, and we're happy about that, and it happened also with a victory. That's the most important thing."
Agholor finished with three catches for 62 yards. He has 19 catches for 225 yards in 10 games. Agholor missed three games with a high-ankle sprain. He plays the right wide receiver spot, which has been fruitful for the Eagles under Chip Kelly. Both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin had the best seasons of their careers playing in that spot.
"He missed a really good portion [of the season] with that high-ankle sprain," Kelly said. "That's difficult for a skill player to come back from. It's a little bit easier for our offensive and defensive linemen to come back from that injury, but because of how those guys have to change and move direction, I think he's still getting his feet underneath him. But thank goodness he was there. That was a heck of a catch on the post route for a touchdown."
As pleased as Agholor was with the touchdown, he lamented two third-down drops that he said he needs to catch. But he showed impressive deep speed on the touchdown, watched the ball into his hands, and then erupted with excitement after scoring. Agholor kept the ball and will give it to his mother for Christmas. The Eagles should hope the touchdown catches will come with greater frequency.
"It helps your confidence," Agholor said. "Now you're eager for more."
Mathews is back
Running back Ryan Mathews returned to the lineup after missing three games with a concussion. He started for the Eagles, and his 13 carries were the most on the team. The Eagles played all four running backs. DeMarco Murray had the second-highest total of carries (11), but Darren Sproles led the Eagles in rushing with 41 yards on seven carries. Kenjon Barner was mixed in on offense, too.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews played even though he was added to the injury report Saturday with a back problem. Matthews finished with three catches for 19 yards.
Defensive lineman Cedric Thornton returned to the starting lineup after missing last week with an ankle injury.
The inactive players for the Eagles were quarterback Thad Lewis, wide receiver Jonathan Krause, cornerback Denzel Rice, linebacker Steven Means, offensive lineman Barrett Jones, offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson, and defensive end Brandon Bair.
Safety Ed Reynolds recorded his first career interception to seal the win. Reynolds, a fifth-round pick in 2014, did not make the 53-man roster after the last two preseasons. The Eagles promoted Reynolds from the practice squad in November, and he now plays a valuable role in the nickel and dime defenses. . . . Kelly praised punter Donnie Jones after the game. Jones averaged 50.4 gross yards and 43.3 net yards per punt. . . . Kicker Caleb Sturgis hit all three of his field goals. He is now 13 of 17 since replacing Cody Parkey.