There were plenty of reasons for the Philadelphia Eagles to be distracted this week. The Buffalo Bills coming to town meant that former Eagles All-Pro LeSean McCoy would also be back. And on top of that, the Eagles, at 5-7, were also fighting for a division crown. So in a game that even Vegas couldn't call, it was encouraging to see the Eagles make big plays when they needed to and get the 23-20 win at home.
Let's take a look at who performed well, and who's got some explaining to do:
Sam Bradford: This season certainly hasn't gone the way Bradford expected. Many observers across the league thought Chip Kelly's offense would be a great use of Bradford's skill set, and would blossom into an ideal marraige for both sides. And while that obviously hasn't quite panned out, Bradford had perhaps his best game of the season against the Bills.
His numbers, 23-of-38 for 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception, weren't overly impressive. But as we've seen all season, all the blame can't be put entirely on the quarterback. The drops and miscommunication continued through the game, and a beautifully thrown deep ball from Bradford to Brent Celek was ripped out of the tight end's hands for a questionable interception.
And speaking of deep balls - Bradford threw them! And sometimes it worked! The first play of the game set the tone, as Bradford threw a beautiful deep ball to Riley Cooper... who dropped it. And Nelson Agholor scored his first touchdown on another deep pass in the second quarter. It certainly wasn't the flashiest performance you'll ever see from a quarterback (and Bradford hasn't thrown more than two touchdowns since Week 4), but it was solid enough to get the job done.
Fletcher Cox: The mandog strikes again. Cox set the tone early with a sack of Tyrod Taylor on third down during the Bills' opening posession, and didn't look back. He played through double teams and was around the ball all game, as evidenced by his team-high eight tackles (seven solo). In addition to his sack, he also had two tackles for loss. Through 14 games Cox has 6.5 sacks, a career high. The rest of the NFL may just be learning what Cox is capable of, but Eagles fans know by now that he's the most dominant player on the team.
Zach Ertz: The young tight end is steadily becoming a bigger part of the Eagles offense. This week he led the team in receptions, targets and yards. He finished the day with five catches for 98 yards, his best performance of the year and one of the best in his three-year career.
Recently Ertz has made some tough catches and shown that he can make plays in space. It hasn't always been perfect - he missed an easy completion because it looked like he and Bradford weren't on the same page - but his play of late has been exciting.
Ed Reynolds II: When you make the game-sealing interception, you're a winner.
LeSean McCoy: The sorest of losers.
Byron Maxwell: After a few weeks of nice play, it seemed like Rex Ryan and his coaching staff decided to pick on Maxwell Sunday. And while he wasn't all bad, his biggest error came on a 47-yard touchdown from Taylor to Sammy Watkins in which Maxwell was beat the whole time. And while he should've had safety help over the top, the Eagles didn't pay him the big bucks in free agency to count on Ed Reynolds' help.
Referees: Where to even start here? Complaining about officiating, especially after a win, feels a little tacky. But the grievances against Ed Hochuli's crew absolutely bear repeating. The worst blunder came at the end of the second half.
With the Eagles driving, Riley Cooper made a catch in the middle of the field and ran out of bounds. The ref near the sideline said that Cooper had made it out of bounds, but after reviewing the play, it was clear his knee was down. The result? The Eagles either took a ten second runoff or called a timeout. So basically, because the referees couldn't do their jobs well, the Eagles were penalized.
They also missed several egregious holds on Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry, both of whom were nearly decapitated by blockers. And on the Bills' touchdown drive in the third quarter they missed several blatant blocks. At one point, the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field got so fed up that the boos rained down harder than when LeSean McCoy ran off the field without saying goodbye to anyone. Bad.