It wasn't necessarily the prettiest performance at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night, but the Eagles' efforts did the trick as they walked away with their first victory of the preseason by defeating the Buffalo Bills, 20-16.
The Philadelphia defense proved to come up big when called upon throughout the night, including in the final seconds of the game. Cornerback Mitchell White sealed the victory for the Eagles with an interception in the end zone on the final play of the night.
Turnovers was truly the name of the game.
The team began the game strong as linebacker Mychal Kendricks picked off Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor during the defense's first trip on the field. Then with 2:30 remaining in the opening quarter, the newest member of the Eagles' secondary made his presence known against his former team. Cornerback Ronald Darby, who came to the Eagles via a trade with the Bills less than a week ago, intercepted Taylor and ran it back 48 yards. Once again in the third, Philadelphia came up with yet another turnover as linebacker Don Cherry forced a fumble. This time it was recovered by cornerback C.J. Smith and gave possession back to the Birds.
"It's guys that are veteran players out there working together, and you've got a great leadership group with Fletcher (Cox) up front and Malcolm (Jenkins) and Rodney (McLeod) in the back end," head coach Doug Pederson said of his defense's play. "You're seeing even the maturity of the young guys, the Jalen Mills and guys like that can just step up and play. It's the confidence of being in the second year (of the defensive system)."
In terms of their offensive performance, the Eagles were a bit slow to start the night. Quarterback Carson Wentz and the team's starters, including wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in his Eagles debut, played a total of four series before their night ended. They were unable to find the end zone, but did help Philadelphia take the initial lead of the game by setting up a Caleb Sturgis 24-yard field goal. Wentz finished the game 6-of-9 for 56 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, and an 83.6 rating, while Jeffery completed the evening with two receptions for 23 yards.
"Was the performance great? By no means," Wentz said during his press conference. "It was definitely not where we want to be, but I definitely don't have doubts. I know we have the right guys. We have the right scheme. We've just got to put it together."
The Eagles' first touchdown of the game, scored by rookie running back Corey Clement on a 6-yard run, came with just under a minute to play in the opening half. It marked the first score of his NFL career. Later, running back Byron Marshall added a second Eagles touchdown to the board with just three minutes to play, which ultimately gave the Birds that 4-point lead for good.
While the Eagles certainly know there is still work to do, they got their first win at home for the season – always a positive. The team will be back in action next Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field when it takes on the Miami Dolphins.
The Eagles faced the Bills in their preseason home opener, and took home a 20-16 win.