Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles won consecutive games for the first time since October on Sunday when they defeated the Buffalo Bills, 23-20. Philadelphia is truly in the driver's seat in the NFC East. Currently, the team is tied atop the division with Washington at 6-7. The New York Giants can join the party with a win tonight over Miami. The Eagles host Arizona next Sunday night, but no matter what the result they can still take the division by beating Washington in Week 16 and winning the regular season finale at the Giants.
Our live coverage begins today at 1 PM as head coach Chip Kelly hosts his day-after press conference. This evening, Eagles Hall of Fame running back Brian Westbrook and Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro recap the biggest moments from the win as well as the news of the day on Eagles 360. Until then, here are the 5 Things to Know Today for Victory Monday, December 14 ...
1. Cox Earns High Praise From Rex Ryan
Typing out that defensive end Fletcher Cox was dominant has become a copy-and-paste exercise on a weekly basis. A week after posting eight quarterback hurries, the most by an Eagle in three seasons, Cox led the team with eight tackles, two for loss, and the team's only sack of the afternoon.
After the game, Bills head coach Rex Ryan recognized just how good the Eagles' defensive end is.
"That 91 is a good player," Ryan said. "I was laughing when I saw him being compared to Jerome Brown, but I’m not laughing now. The kid is a pretty good player."
Ryan's dad, Buddy, coached the Eagles Hall of Fame defensive tackle for four season.
Bills guard Richie Incognito, who was the unfortunate witness to Cox's greatness, admitted that Cox "ate my lunch."
This will serve as a friendly Public Service Announcement to vote for Cox and his teammates for the Pro Bowl. The polls close on Tuesday.
A quick recap at some of the key players who powered the Eagles to their 23-20 win over the Bills. View the full gallery here...
2. McCoy Heads Into The Shade
As Dave Spadaro wrote on Sunday, this game was the rare instance where the actual action on the football field was better than the hype leading up to it.
The biggest storyline was the return of LeSean McCoy, the franchise's all-time leading rusher who was traded to Buffalo in March. McCoy's impact was minimal. He rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. However, he had just 11 yards on eight carries in the second half.
McCoy did plenty of talking leading up to the game, but told reporters afterward that he had "nothing to say."
"Our defense did a great job," tackle Jason Peters said. "You can't deny that he is a good running back. You let him get through that, he's going to duke and take it to the house. We did a great job containing him."
3. Eagles Utilize Committee Approach At RB
There was no question who would receive the bulk of the carries at running back for the Bills, but the same could not be said for the Eagles.
For the first time since the Week 10 game against Miami, Ryan Mathews was active after being sidelined with a concussion and groin injury. The Eagles had utilized Kenjon Barner effectively in Mathews' absence, but would the team activate all four backs?
The answer was yes.
Mathews got the start and had 38 yards on 13 carries. Darren Sproles was the most productive rusher with 41 yards on seven carries. DeMarco Murray had 34 yards on 11 carries. Barner played, but did not touch the ball on offense.
4. Bradford The Leader
Since returning from a concussion and non-throwing shoulder injury, quarterback Sam Bradford has guided the Eagles to a 2-0 record. His numbers haven't been gaudy. He was 23-of-38 for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. However, his passes were on-point for a majority of the afternoon. A couple drops by the Eagles' receivers impacted Bradford's numbers. But his teammates have been impressed with how the quarterback has been a leader behind the scenes.
"I've spent a lot of time around Sam," wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. "He's a leader to me whether he says anything or not, but the way his demeanor is, he's very calm and very silent. When he opens his mouth, you better listen because this guy knows what he's talking about.
"Sam’s been through more than anybody in this locker room as far as adversity, probably even a lot of guys in the NFL. When he says something like, 'We need to get this win and come out firing on all cylinders,' he means that. There's a passion behind that. We definitely feed off that."
5. Big Contributions From Other Pass Catchers
Jordan Matthews has paced the offense all season with 64 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns. On Sunday, rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor hauled in a beautiful 53-yard touchdown from Bradford. It was Agholor's first-career touchdown and finished with three catches for 62 yards.
The play of the game for the offense was tight end Zach Ertz's 41-yard reception to put the Eagles in position for the game-winning field goal. Ertz stepped up in a big way with five catches for 98 yards.
"Sam put the ball right where he needed to and then I had a little catch-and-run," Ertz said of his big reception which came on a third-and-3 with just under five minutes remaining. "Josh's (Huff) guy kind of fell off at the end and he (Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin) went for the strip and I lowered my shoulder and ran him over and got some more yards after that."
Said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur: "It's a play he's executed many times. He ran a slant on the outside, it was bump-and-run on Josh and there was a guy (Bills safety Corey Graham) covering Ertz, so there was a natural pick. It should be an easy completion with a high percentage of running after the catch. Then it was an outstanding run after the catch."