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Eagles vs. Bills: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Highlights and lowlights from Philadelphia’s Week 12 win.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The trend continues. The Eagles keep winning. The Buffalo Bills were playing for their postseason lives, and the Eagles very well may have ended it, after a comeback 37-34 overtime victory on a rainy Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in moving the Eagles to 10-1.

Jake Elliott sent the game into overtime by booting a 59-yard field goal into a driving rain with 20 seconds left in regulation, and a soggy Jalen Hurts’ 12-yard score won it in overtime.

The Eagles gave up a season-high 505 yards to the Bills and Josh Allen, who completed 29 of 51 for 339 yards, rushing for two touchdowns and passing for two scores. Despite his slippery brilliance in the rain, Allen continues to trend in a direction, now 0-6 in overtime games, including the postseason.

As he seems to be trending this season, Hurts was good when he had to be good. He completed 11 of 15 for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, then tacked on three of five completions in overtime. He finished by connecting on 18 of 31 for 200 yards.

What cannot be lost is the Eagles did this without perennial all-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson, who had a groin injury, and was replaced by Jack Driscoll, who the Eagles gave considerable help to after their first drive.

But there are some shadowy trends that the Eagles continue to survive. For the fourth-straight game, the Eagles were outgained and trailed at halftime. That’s also a trend, considering the Eagles persevered against Washington (outgained 472-374/down 17-10 at halftime), Dallas (406-292/17-14), Kansas City (336-238/17-7) and Buffalo (505-378/17-7).

Buffalo converted six third downs of seven yards or longer. For the second-straight week, the Eagles did not convert their first third down until the third quarter. Against Kansas City, that did not come until there was 6:24 left in the third quarter. Against Buffalo, it did not arrive until there was 8:32 in the third quarter on Hurts’ 14-yard completion to tight end Jack Stoll.

The Bills had their problems, too. They could not defend DeVonta Smith, who caught seven passes on eight targets for a game-high 106 yards. By the end of the game, Buffalo’s defense was gassed.

The Eagles have played 11 games and many of the same issues that have haunted them this season continued. Still, they are a bottom-line team that wins. But when some trends skew in a negative direction, those trends also have a habit of biting at the wrong place, at most important time—like the postseason.

There were tons of ugly, some bad, and a mountain of good for an Eagles team that trends to be good when they have to be good in their 37-34 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills.

The Good

Hurts’ 12-yard touchdown run in overtime to win it. It was set up by a D’Andre Swift 16-yard run that he bounced to the outside, setting up Hurts’ heroics. On the Hurts’ score, center Jason Kelce kicked out Bills’ linebacker Tyrel Dodson, who Kelce punished the entire game, left tackle Jordan Mailata provided the other very key block, collapsing Bills’ edge rusher A.J. Epenesa inside and giving Hurts a lane to run untouched.

Kicker Jake Elliott’s 59-yarder with 20 seconds to play that tied the score, 31-31. Elliott career-wise is 25/36 from 50 yards or better, and 6/7 this season. Elliott has been clutch all season.

Receiver Olamide Zaccheaus’ 29-yard go-ahead touchdown reception with 11:07 to play. Zaccheaus hauled it in between Buffalo safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

Cornerback James Bradberry’s interception with 12:46 to play at the Buffalo 28. The pass was intended for Diggs, and was read well by Bradberry. The turnover led to the Eagles taking a 28-21 lead.

Hurts’ 15-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown to DeVonta Smith came in answer to Allen’s second touchdown facing a 24-14 deficit. This came on the same drive in which Hurts threw a 33-yard completion to Smith on a second-and-six to the Buffalo 38.

Defensive end Brandon Graham appearing in his 189th game as an Eagle in the third quarter, an all-time Eagle record exceeding David Akers.

Hurts’ 14-yard pass to tight end Jack Stoll with 8:32 left in the third quarter. It was the first time the Eagles converted a third down. Two plays later, Hurts hit A.J. Brown for a three-yard touchdown with 7:13 left in the third quarter.

Swift’s 36-yard third quarter run to the Bills’ 26. The Eagles had been floundering to that point. They had 99 yards of offense and had problems moving the ball through the air against the Buffalo zone and the blitz packages Bills’ head coach Sean McDermott was dialing up. But thanks to Kelce kicking out Dodson, and left guard Landon Dickerson turning tackle Tim Settle inside, Swift had a lane to run through and the Eagles’ offense had life. It was basically the same play the Eagles ran in the first off the long gain by Kenneth Gainwell.

Safety Reed Blankenship coming up with a nice open field tackle to nail James Cook for a four-yard gain to the Eagles’ 35 after the Hurts’ second-quarter interception.

Hurts’ one-yard score on the “Brotherly Shove” with 1:06 left in the first quarter. It was the first rushing touchdown by a quarterback against the Bills in two years. It is also demoralizing to a defense getting around and pushed back on a play like that. The Eagles’ offense was fortunate. Buffalo had six penalties for 37 yards that led to three Eagles’ first downs.

Kelce reaching and sealing off Dodson, Dickerson turning Buffalo’s Ed Oliver left on Gainwell’s 23-yard run that set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. Oliver was so frustrated on the play, he retaliated against Dickerson by putting his hands to his face drawing a penalty. Dickerson even pointed it out the refs as Gainwell was flying up the field. It worked once, the Eagles used the same play later in the third quarter with the faster Swift for an even larger gain.

Hurts’ 16-yard scramble on a first-and-10 at the Bills’ 26 on the Eagles’ first-quarter touchdown drive. The Bills left the middle of the field open and Hurts exploited the gap, easily picking up another first down.

Hurts’ 14-yard completion to Smith on second-and-12 from the Eagles’ 25 on their second drive. It was the first real positive play for the offense and jumpstarted their touchdown drive.

Blankenship and linebacker Nick Morrow knifing through to stop Latavius Murray on the Bills’ first drive on a third-and-two at the Buffalo 33, forcing a three-and-out.

The Bad

Hurts’ second quarter interception that led to Buffalo’s first touchdown. It was Hurts’ 10th interception this season. He threw a total of six last year. It was a fine play by Bills’ edge rusher Leonard Floyd, who was feasting on Eagles’ back-up right tackle Jack Driscoll.

Linebacker Zach Cunningham being twirled around like a toy by Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen on third-and-10 scramble to the Eagles’ 33 early in the second quarter. The first down set up Tyler Bass’ 48-yard field goal with 11:23 left in the half.

Dickerson’s false start on the first play of the Eagles’ second drive. The Eagles went an ugly three-and-out on their series, this was not a good way to begin the second drive.

The Ugly

Morrow should have known better than to come anywhere near Allen down on a second-and-10 at the Eagles’ 41 in overtime. Instead, Morrow had to push Allen and get flagged. The penalty gave the Bills a fresh set of downs at the Eagles’ 26. Buffalo had to eventually settle for a Tyler Bass 40-yard field goal with 5:52 left in overtime.

Kelce’s two false start flinches that cost the Eagles a timeout and 10 yards with :30 to play. The flags pushed the Eagles back to the Buffalo 41 and out of Jake Elliott’s range, forcing a third-and-17.

Eagles’ defense late in the fourth quarter. The Bills pounded the Eagles on their go-ahead score towards a 31-28 lead. Buffalo ran right through the Eagles on four-straight plays for 11, 11, 12 and 7 yards. Then Buffalo switched it up with short passes, ending in Allen’s 7-yard TD pass to Gabe Davis for a 31-28 Bills’ lead with 1:52 to play. Linebacker Christian Elliss had no idea where the ball was and what to do on the touchdown. His assignment might have been to pick up Davis slanting in.

Eagles’ inability to contain Allen. He converted a third-and-four to the Buffalo 43 with a seven-yard run up the middle, and he scored twice with runs up the middle for nine and 16 yards. On the 16-yard, third-quarter touchdown, Blankenship had Allen in his sights at the 12 and completely whiffed. The score came on a third-and-11 in the most congested part of the field, yet, Allen eluded the Eagles’ defense. Blankenship pounded his fist into the Linc turf knowing he should have made the tackle.

Hurts’ sack on the first play of the third quarter. After a dreadful first half, this was not a good way to begin the second half.

The Eagles’ first half. Their drive chart read three-and-out punt, 10 plays/73 yards/TD, two-and-out INT, four-and-out punt, three-and-out punt, three-and-out fumble lost, and one play-halftime. Hurts had completed just four of 11 for 33 yards and two turnovers that led to Buffalo’s two touchdowns, while Allen had been carving the Eagles up completing 19 of 32 for 209 and two TD passes. The Bills had outgained the Eagles 276-99, while running off 48 plays to the Eagles’ 26, averaging 5.8 yards a play to the Eagles’ 3.8. The Eagles were 0/4 on third-down conversions.

Safeties Kevin Byard, Blankenship and linebacker Cunningham around the vicinity while having Allen’s 13-yard touchdown pass drop through to Stefon Diggs for a 17-7 Bills’ lead with :12 left in the half.

The miscommunication between Hurts and Gainwell that led to the fumble late in the second quarter. Gainwell seemed not to know whether he was supposed to block or get the ball when Hurts placed the ball in his chest from behind. The result was predictable. The ball fell and then Buffalo linebacker Greg Rousseau fell on it, and soon later, the Eagles fell further behind, 17-7.

Eagles’ allowing the Bills to covert a first down on third-and-nine at their 28. Allen slid out of the pocket and found Gabe Davis on the sideline for 19 yards to the Eagles’ nine. Cornerback James Bradberry actually had good coverage on the play. The Eagles could not get to Allen, who scored running up the middle on the next play to give the Bills a 10-7 lead.

The Eagles’ first offensive series. With right tackle Lane Johnson out, leaving back-up Jack Driscoll to be completely torn up Floyd. Hurts was running for his life on the first drive, pressured to simply throw the ball away to avoid the Buffalo rush. Also, Buffalo, to its credit, did a great job of edge integrity, staying in their lanes and keeping Hurts contained.


Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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