The storylines for this game were everywhere: at 5-7, the Philadelphia Eagles needed a win to stay alive in the NFC East playoff race. DeMarco Murray, one of the Eagles' big ticket free agents, was unhappy with his role. And, oh yeah, LeSean McCoy was back in town as a member of the Buffalo Bills. There were plenty of reasons to be excited for this game, and as Sunday afternoon turned into Sunday evening, Eagles fans got the best reason for excitement - a win.
This game could have gone either way (and often looked like it would) but the Eagles were able to win thanks to some timely plays on offense and bend-don't-break defense. This is likely going to be the team's formula for success down the stretch, something they'll need if they want to finish strong and make the playoffs.
Let's take a look at how each unit performed Sunday against Buffalo:
Overall grade: B+
It may not be much, but the Eagles needed a home win against the Bills, and they got one. Not only that, they did it with timely offense and by frustrating former Eagle LeSean McCoy. Things weren't always pretty (they rarely have been this season), but the team looked strong at home and knocked off a dangerous Buffalo team. That's important as they head into the home stretch that features one 11-win team and two division rivals.
Sam Bradford put together another solid performance Sunday, finishing the day 23-of-38 for 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The pick wasn't his fault; the ball was beautifully placed, but was ripped out of Brent Celek's hands by Leodis McKelvin (assuming you felt the pass actually was intercepted).
Outside of the passing game, the running backs had a nice day. The Eagles picked up 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground, highlighted by Darren Sproles' four carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. And surprisingly, DeMarco Murray had an alright day - he carried 11 times for 34 yards. None of the running backs put up huge numbers by any stretch, but the group as a whole looked solid and was able to use the up tempo attack to its advantage.
Regardless of any other storylines (sorry, Kiko Alonso), this game was always going to be about LeSean McCoy. And after a shaky start by the defense, the Eagles were able to contain McCoy in the second half. In total, he finished the day with 20 carries for 74 yards and a whole lot of frustration.
The Eagles were also able to keep Tyrod Taylor in check. He threw for 268 yards, a touchdown and a game-ending interception on 19 completions. Where the Eagles had some difficulty with Taylor was in the run game. He used his speed to break out of the pocket, and finished the game with 53 yards on eight rushes.
In all, though, it was a solid game: Fletcher Cox led the team with eight tackles and a sack, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham each deflected passes, and Ed Reynolds II was able to end the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter. It wasn't dominating, but it was plenty good enough.
Special teams: A
Donnie Jones, take a bow. Sunday's game featured two punters on their A-game, and Jones had a terrific game. Darren Sproles also played well in the return game, and had four returns for 47 yards. And hey, Caleb Sturgis hit all three of his field goals! All in all, that's a pretty good day.