1 - Jones has an impactAfter getting just eight snaps and no targets in his preseason debut against the Vikings, Zay Jones saw significantly more playing time against the Eagles and made an impact on the game. Lining up primarily outside with the starting unit, Jones first catch was a 10-yard reception to convert a 3rd-and-7 early in the second quarter.
"Yeah I didn't get a catch the first game, so I was still just struggling along waiting for it and it finally came," Jones told Buffalobills.com. "I was just glad I could help my team get that first down."
At the end of the half with Nate Peterman in at quarterback, Jones caught another 10-yard pass to move the chains on a 2nd-and-10 play with 13 seconds left on the clock. On the very next play Peterman found Jones again for a 22-yard connection with the rookie receiver deftly getting two feet down to complete the catch. The acrobatic reception also stopped the clock with six seconds in the half.
"I felt comfortable with it. It was a catch that I've practiced before and made before," Jones said. "So I'm just doing my job when the ball is thrown and put in the air. Just go get it."
Peterman went to him with a fade pass in the back left corner of the end zone on 1st-and-goal from the eight. Jones reached high to make the catch, but his momentum carried him toward the sideline and his second foot landed out of bounds and the Bills had to take a field goal as the half expired.
"I'm not sure what the exact call was. No one really told me. I kind of just went on to the next play," said Jones. "I tried to make a good effort. I'll do a better job to get two feet down and just keep playing."
2 - Peterman shows touch and anticipationRunning the second team offense, Nate Peterman came on in the latter stages of the first half and put together a field goal drive at the end of the second quarter. With 47 seconds on the clock, Peterman went just 3-6 passing on the drive, but showed great touch on a 22-yard completion to Zay Jones along the left sideline dropping it over the cornerback's head where only Jones could make a play on it.
He also demonstrated good anticipation throwing a fade pass early to allow Jones to run under it in the end zone. Jones' second foot however, hit the sideline rendering it an incomplete pass instead of a touchdown.
"Nate did a good job with that," said Jones. "He has a good feel for the game and the coverage and just making it happen."
Peterman wasn't perfect, but on the whole his decision making was good and he showed he wasn't afraid to take some risk giving his receivers chances to make plays. Perhaps the best example was his 28-yard completion to Rod Streater in the third quarter where he gave Streater the chance to out jump the cornerback for the football.
"I was OK, I think," said Peterman. "I think I left a lot of plays out there on the field. We didn't get in the end zone with my group. I thought we definitely had the chances to. When we get in the red zone we want touchdowns, and I think that was a big thing that we needed to get."
The rookie quarterback finished the game 10-20 for 167 yards and averaged 8.4 yards per attempt. He also showed some mobility converting a 3rd-and-9 with a 10-yard run where he dove for the conversion.
"Nate has done a nice job. He's had a good camp. He was very poised and he does a good job with being decisive in the pocket," said head coach Sean McDermott. "I did like how he moved the offense when he came in. He's doing a nice job of continuing to develop. I'll have to look at the tape to say any more."
3 - Run 'D' looks healthyA bright spot in terms of team performance Thursday night was Buffalo's run defense. Despite LeGarrette Blount's bruising running style, the run defense was effective early with Lorenzo Alexander, Preston Brown and Jerry Hughes the most involved on run stops.
"We were able to create some negative plays and put them behind the sticks, which is part of being a good defense and putting ourselves in favorable third down situations." McDermott said. "That always helps, the penetration, the negative yards on first and second down. I thought we did a pretty good job of controlling the line of scrimmage up front."
Buffalo's defense was thrown into some tough situations early playing on short fields after two early interceptions by the Eagles deep in Buffalo territory. The first set up Philadelphia on Buffalo's nine-yard line. On three plays the Bills defense surrendered just four yards and forced a field goal.
Later in the first quarter the Eagles had it 1st-and-10 at the Bills 18 following the second INT. On five plays Philadelphia managed one yard and had to try a field goal again, which was missed.
"It was great," said Preston Brown of the team's run defense. "We've got one of the best D-lines in the league, so we know if we play behind them we can get downhill and help make plays in the backfield. We had some tough situations, some turnovers and we had to go out there and make plays. Coach always said in the red zone they're either kicking a field goal or we're taking the ball back, so it was good that we were able to bough up."
All told in the game the Bills defense had six tackles for loss against the run as the Eagles averaged just 2.5 yards per carry in the game.
"Those guys have great get off," said Brown of his defensive linemen. "Marcell, Kyle and (Jerel) Worthy, Adolphus (Washington), anybody that was in there, when you make a back cut in the backfield it's going to be a big play for us."
That success on early run downs was instrumental in holding Philadelphia's starting offense to zero third down conversions in the first half.
"Our guys were flying around making a lot of plays," said Lorenzo Alexander. "Jerry Hughes with a big sack. Preston Brown was flying around making some tackles for losses. Kyle Williams as well. Our defense was able to stand up and pretty much hold them to field goals all night."