LeSean McCoy jogged alone into the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field when the final seconds expired in the Eagles' 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. He did not shake any hands. He did not speak with former teammates. The Eagles were McCoy's opponents for the first time - and they were the victors.
A week ripe with intrigue and story lines ended without McCoy's revenge or DeMarco Murray's workload as the keys to the result. Rather, it was a workmanlike win from a team that believes it's peaking at the right time.
"I think they are playing better in all three phases," Kelly said. "There are still a lot of things we have to correct and we have to clean up, but against two good opponents, to come out with two W's here, you're in December, and you're 2-0 in December."
When the Eagles players arrived in the locker room Sunday morning, they all found black T-shirts hanging in their locker stalls that read "53 Angry Men." The shirts, the players assumed, came from owner Jeffrey Lurie. They referenced Lurie's instruction to "play angry" before the Eagles' Week 13 win over New England.
With that directive in mind, the Eagles won their second consecutive game and improved to 6-7. They remain tied atop the NFC East entering next week's game against the Arizona Cardinals, but it will be the Week 16 and 17 games against Washington and the New York Giants that will determine whether they can reach the postseason.
"We don't have to depend on anyone else, and if we take care of our business, we will end up where we want to be," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "I think that's all you can ask for."
Safety Ed Reynolds' interception clinched the win with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining as the Bills tried to come back in a back-and-forth game.
The game-winning points came from Caleb Sturgis' 30-yard field goal with 3:30 remaining.
The Eagles never trailed Sunday, but they never led by more than 10 points, either. They won the turnover differential and were penalized far less than the Bills, who were charged with 15 penalties for 101 yards.
The Eagles defense focused on stymieing McCoy, who was limited to 74 yards on 20 carries. McCoy took the field to a smattering of boos. He did not encounter any Eagles players during the pregame warm-up. He embraced owner Jeffrey Lurie. The Bills sent McCoy to midfield as their lone captain before the game. McCoy kissed the Eagles logo. He did not speak to reporters after the game.
McCoy's old backfield split carries among its top three running backs. Murray finished with 11 carries for 34 yards, Ryan Mathews returned to the lineup with 13 carries for 38 yards, and Darren Sproles had seven carries for 41 yards. Kenjon Barner played, but did not get any carries.
"We just knew we had four healthy backs, and we were going to try to use them," Kelly said. "We knew we didn't have to run anybody into the ground today because we have depth at the position."
The Eagles were more effective passing than they were rushing. Bradford finished 23 of 38 for 247 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Kelly said Bradford "played outstanding" and "there weren't any errant throws." The Eagles are 6-2 in the last eight games Bradford has finished.
Bradford's top receiver Sunday was tight end Zach Ertz, who finished with five catches for 98 yards. The most important catch came with less than five minutes in the game. The score was tied at 20, and the Eagles had third and 3 at their 41-yard line.
Bradford threw a quick out to Ertz to try to secure the first down. But the defender covering Ertz collided with Josh Huff, leaving Ertz in open space. Ertz rumbled through a cornerback, stiff-armed a safety, and was not dragged down until he reached the 18-yard line. That play put the Eagles in position for Sturgis' go-ahead field goal.
Buffalo had one last chance, but a penalty put the Bills in third and long before Reynolds' interception. The penalties were a big part of the game and irritated Bills coach Rex Ryan afterward.
"This one's tough because I thought we were the better team today, but obviously we got beat," Ryan said. "Penalties - we've got ourselves to blame. You can't have that many penalties obviously, and it's a no-brainer when you jump offsides a zillion times and we got I don't how many holding calls, but it looked like it was a record out there."
A big reason for the penalties was the play of defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who finished with eight tackles and one sack, but spent enough time in the Bills backfield to become reacquainted with McCoy.
Both Eagles touchdowns came in the first half. Sproles rushed for a 1-yard score on the Eagles' opening drive, and Bradford connected with Nelson Agholor for a 53-yard score in the second quarter. It was Agholor's first career touchdown.
When Agholor described the play after the game, he wore the "53 Angry Men" shirt that hung in his locker when he arrived. It can become a rallying cry for the Eagles. Two weeks ago, they spent their time answering questions about Kelly's future. Last week, they heard about McCoy's angst and Murray's conundrum. But they sent McCoy back to Buffalo angry, and they sent their fans home happy.
"I think that's been what's been really special about this team and this group for the past two weeks because I know there has been a lot of noise from outside the building - especially after the Thanksgiving Day game," Bradford said. "But it doesn't seem to affect us. I think everyone did a great job at just staying focused and not letting any of that add anything extra to the game."