1. Run defense has tough day
The Bills defense came into Sunday’s game ranked 10th against the run, but that ranking took a hit against the Eagles. Philadelphia’s combination of Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard rolled up 170 yards on just 26 carries to average better than 6.5 yards per rush. They also had a touchdown each in the Eagles convincing victory.
The 170 yards by the Eagles’ two primary backs would’ve been a season high against the Bills on its own, but by the time the game was over, Philadelphia had cleared the 200-yard plateau.
“It was frustrating because it starts up front and we’ve got to do a lot better, myself included, the whole D-line,” said Shaq Lawson. “We knew they were a good team with a good front. I guess they wanted it more than us.”
The dagger came on a 2nd-and-8 from the Eagles 35-yard line early in the third quarter, when Sanders took a hand-off and got a couple of good blocks and out-raced the Bills secondary to the sideline and eventually the end zone on a 65-yard touchdown run.
The inside zone runs seemed to be the primary issue for the Bills run front as well as some missed tackles.
Philadelphia’s run game eventually wore down the Bills defense, with the capper coming on a fourth-quarter drive that covered 14 plays and 83 yards. Fifty-eight of those yards came on the ground on 10 carries, including a three-yard touchdown run by Howard.
“We didn’t expect them to bring in their big, heavy, extra O-linemen as much as they did,” said Trent Murphy. “That was a bit of a surprise, but we had seen it on tape from previous years. It’s fundamental football. They got us on a quick, hurry-up run to the ball play where we weren’t lined up. It’s nothing crazy. It’s fundamentals. It’s getting lined up and playing your gap. That’s what it is.”
Buffalo had been giving up 3.9 yards per carry on the season, but Philadelphia averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a team.
That’s only topped by the 6.5 yards per carry average they allowed the Giants back in a Week 2 victory.
All told, the Eagles had 218 yards rushing, the first time Buffalo had surrendered more than 130 yards on the ground this season.
2. Second half rally missing
Buffalo’s offense has faced halftime deficits before, so when the Bills were trailing 11-7 at the break, the Eagles four-point lead appeared as anything but insurmountable.
But the Eagles outscored the Bills 20-6 in the second half and won going away.
The Bills pass game struggled over the final two quarters. Josh Allen, who was an efficient 8-13 for 74 yards and a touchdown in the first half, went just 8-21 passing for 95 yards in the second half and had 10 consecutive incompletions to end the game.
“They made some good plays on defense, but we weren’t helping ourselves out, whether it was penalties pre-snap or during the play,” said Allen. “Ultimately, that rests on my shoulders. I’ve got to find a way to allow ourselves to get better with moving the ball and putting some more points on the board. A performance like this won’t cut it. We didn’t play to our standard. We played a pretty good team, but we have to play up to how we know we can play.”
Allen had some errant throws, but the inefficiencies in the passing game weren’t all on Buffalo’s quarterback. Wide receiver John Brown admitted that he ran the wrong route on the 4th-and-10 play at the Eagles’ 29-yard line with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
“I thought I would make a body catch. It was a great throw by Josh, but honestly I ran the wrong route,” said Brown. “That’s on me. I’ll take the blame on that. I was supposed to come flatter on an in route and instead I ran the post. That’s on me and I take the blame for that.”
As far as Cole Beasley saw it, not much of their offensive performance was good enough throughout the game, not just the second half. Buffalo had 13 possessions in the game and went three-and-out seven times with an additional four-and-out and turnover on downs.
“We didn’t put together many good quarters,” said Beasley. “You usually put together a few. I don’t know if we had more than one. We’ve got to be better. We just have to watch the film and see what happened and where we went wrong and fix it. That’s our job as players and coaches and we’ll do that.”
3. Devin Singletary and Tyler Kroft flash
Injuries kept Devin Singletary and Tyler Kroft out of the lineup for most of the first half of the season, but on Sunday they made respectable contributions to Buffalo’s offensive effort.
Singletary didn’t get many touches in the game. In fact, he didn’t get a carry in the first half, but he had one of the biggest plays for the offense when he not only converted a 3rd-and-13 play on a reception near the left sideline in the second half, breaking a pair of tackles to reach the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown.
“It’s always exciting to make someone miss, so yeah it was exciting for me on that play,” he said.
The score pulled the Bills to within four points in the third quarter (17-13). Unfortunately, the Eagles offense would put up a touchdown on the ensuing possession to re-establish their lead (24-13).
When asked if he’d liked to be used more, Singletary explained that playing more is not his decision to make.
“You’ve just got to stay ready and when you get the call you’ve got to be ready,” said Singletary. “Whenever my number is called I’m going to be ready.”
Meanwhile Kroft, who only made his Bills debut in Week 7 against the Dolphins, had a pair of receptions for 32 yards, with both receptions moving the sticks for first downs. Knowing the Bills offense had only 16 completions in the game, one wonders if Kroft may have factored in more if the passing game had more rhythm and execution.