ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – It was time for a big play and Brandon Graham knew it.
The Eagles trailed late in the first half, Buffalo had the football and on a third-and-2 play, Graham expected Buffalo to keep it simple and let quarterback Josh Allen take matters into his own legs and run the football. The Bills did just that and called a QB Power to the right side of the formation. Graham, though, was better on this day. He penetrated the line of scrimmage, forced an Allen fumble, and then pounced on it at the Buffalo 24-yard line with just under two minutes remaining in the half.
Plenty of time for the Eagles' offense to do something.
Plenty of time to turn the game around.
A four-point deficit turned into a four-point lead as the Eagles converted the takeaway into a Carson Wentz touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert and the Eagles added a two-point conversion on Miles Sanders' run to propel the team to a much-needed 31-13 win on Sunday at New Era Field.
"It was nice to get a turnover and get off the field," said Graham, who led the way as the Eagles held Buffalo to 253 total net yards, sacked quarterback Josh Allen four times, and had two critical takeaways. "I knew it was a power because they checked to it on the back end. I trusted myself, played across, threw my arm at the ball, and when I saw it come out – they always tell you to get off the ground – I just went and got it."
Playing with three players who were on practice squads a week earlier at defensive tackle, the Eagles did a fine job stopping Buffalo's complicated running game and harassing Allen. The defense allowed two 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drives, but otherwise, the Bills had absolutely nothing going. Graham and Fletcher Cox (6 total tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks, forced fumble) took matters into their own hands up front. The linebackers supported the run game at the line of scrimmage and tackled well. The secondary, bolstered by the return of cornerback Ronald Darby, shut down Buffalo's vertical passing game.
It was a beautiful sight to behold.
"We knew they could run the football really good and we know we're built for stopping the run," Cox said. "I think the guys did a great job flying around and the guys on the perimeter tackled well. Overall, it was great team defense. What happened against Dallas (when the Eagles allowed 402 total yards and 189 yards on the ground) was just one of those bad games. It's out of our system. We're better than that and we knew it.
"BG made the big play on their designed run and it turned the game around. We needed something there. BG made the play. That's what you have to do. You have to step up."
With the win, the Eagles are 4-4. They put behind them a tumultuous week off the field. They came together on the field. They galvanized to capture a mighty win.
"It's huge for us," Cox said. "We had two brutal losses the last two weeks. I'm happy the way this team came together. We knew what we had to do to get our backs from being up against the wall."
It started with one play, one moment, a big takeaway from Graham that the offense turned into eight points. It led to a critical road win as the Eagles come home for the entire month of November looking for bigger and brighter things in the near future.