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Other Week 14 Game Recaps

Week 14 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 20, Philadelphia Eagles 23

What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

The Eagles knew exactly how to gameplan for the Bills' offense. They employed a "bend but don't break" approach and it worked just enough get the Eagles the win. Tyrod Taylor had one of his best rushing games on the ground and a decent game through the air but his receivers were never open enough for him to complete a large portion of his passes. LeSean McCoy was great once again running the ball and was prolific receiving as well but the only rushing TD of the day for the Bills went to Mike Gillislee. Sammy Watkins is finally getting the amount of targets he asked for earlier in the season but defenses are keying in on him. Charles Clay left the game in the first quarter and the Bills need him to be healthy if they want to somehow sneak into a Wild Card spot.

Philadelphia Eagles

It wasn't pretty but winning NFL games isn't a beauty contest. After shocking the New England Patriots on the road in Week 13, the Eagles returned home as slim favorites over the Buffalo Bills. Despite failing to score a touchdown in the second half, Chip Kelly's crew was able to hold onto a three-point lead for their second consecutive win. They started strong by moving the ball down the field, mostly on the strength of their running backs, and punched in a score from a yard out to take an early 7-0 lead. But then stumbled to three consecutive three-and-outs. Fortunately, the Bills special teams unit coughed up a punt and the Eagles retained possession, of which they were able to cash into another touchdown and regain the lead. But it would be the last time they visited the end zone. Their second half possessions went field goal, punt, turnover, punt, field goal, punt. Had their defense not been playing well enough to keep the Bills out of the end zone, including a game-ending interception, this may have been an ugly loss. They also got a lot of help from the Bills' 15 penalties, particularly those that came on third-and-long situations. Overall, the offense looked improved with a core of healthy running backs and solid pass protection from the offensive line. Now with a record of 6-7, the Eagles are tied for first place.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 36 - 268 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 8 - 53 - 0
Taylor had his best scrambling game since the very beginning of the season. Almost every time he decided that it was necessary to get upfield with the ball, he chunked the Eagles for good gains. The Eagles seemed to give Taylor the space on those runs in order to prevent his deep balls. When passing deep, it looked like Taylor's targets were always covered by a safety. Some great touch throws, including Watkins' TD, were as much as you could ask from a QB. Even Taylor's tendency to sail the ball on his receivers was not as evident today. The problem was the aforementioned safety coverage. Even with fine passes from Taylor, the Eagles' defense was good enough to prevent completions. And on the Bills last play of the game, Taylor was not able to step into the throw because of the pocket collapsing and the sailed ball went right into the safety's hands.

RB LeSean McCoy, 64 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 74 - 0, Rec: 4 - 35 - 0 (7 targets)
In his "revenge game", McCoy was everywhere. His 20 carries were by far the most by any player on either team and he was tied for second in targets for the Bills. He was hard to tackle and displayed good burst, two things we've known about McCoy for a while now. He had 22 yards brought back to penalties which when added to his stat line show some very respectable numbers against a Philadelphia defensive line that made good plays. In what was probably the most time spent on a play for the smallest gain, McCoy ran east-west for a while trying multiple times to get through a hole in the line. Each time he tried to move forward he was rebuffed so he tried a different hole. Eventually he made it to an edge and was able to cut upfield. But even McCoy could not defeat the defensive line all the time; once he was tackled after having the ball for less than a second.

RB Mike Gillislee, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 24 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)
Gillislee only had three carries but he will remember his TD run for a long time. He mainly had to follow his blockers to a big hole and make just one slight cut but it was enough to score. LeSean McCoy is by far and away the only trusted (and healthy) running back; it would be very surprising if Gillislee was involved any further in this offense.

WR Sammy Watkins, 73 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 5 - 81 - 1 (12 targets)
Throughout the game, Tyrod Taylor force-fed Watkins the ball. Watkins was consistently beating his corner badly but the safety was shading over. On his TD it didn't matter; Watkins outran the corner and made the catch before the safety could hit him. Even in double coverage Watkins always seemed to have a chance. However, for much of the game the safety was able to make a play on the ball. Other than a dropped pass that was called back for an offensive penalty anyway, Watkins did very well considering the attention the defense was paying to him. Watkins' best ability in this game may have been taking up defensive players for Robert Woods to run free.

WR Robert Woods, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 106 - 0 (7 targets)
Woods had his most yards all season against the Eagles with 106. He was able to get himself open with Sammy Watkins drawing double coverage on the other side of the field. Woods did have a fumble being tackled along the sideline but luckily the ball rolled out of bounds. Tyrod Taylor trusted Woods enough to throw him the ball on third down on the Bills' possible game-winning drive and Woods did beat his defender; however, a combination of a safety over top and the pocket collapsing onto Taylor ended both the play and the game with an interception.

WR Chris Hogan, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (5 targets)
Hogan had five targets but could never seem to shake his coverage for big plays. Most significantly, Hogan made an athletic catch in the endzone versus tight coverage but was pushed out of bounds while in the air. Blame can partially be put on Tyrod Taylor for not leading Hogan more inbounds but there was not a lot of room between Hogan and the defender.

TE Charles Clay, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets)
Unfortunately for both Clay and the Bills, Clay left the game against the Eagles in the first quarter and did not return. The Bills had 36 passing attempts plus a few more negated by penalty; they were clearly missing their second best receiving target. His value for the remainder of the season will depend on the severity of the injury.

TE Chris Gragg, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)
Gragg replaced Clay when he went down in the first quarter but only received two targets over the course of the game. If Clay is out, Gragg will be the starting tight end. However, his only relevant games were the games in which E.J. Manuel was the starting quarterback.

Philadelphia Eagles

QB Sam Bradford, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 38 - 247 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 3 - 0
Sam Bradford had a solid afternoon against a Bills' secondary missing its best player. His first pass attempt was a perfect 42-yard bomb to Riley Cooper, but Cooper wasn't able to secure the ball and the ruling of a catch was overturned. He then connected on his next four including a 21-yard laser to Zach Ertz. The highlight of the game came on their fourth series. After two consecutive holding penalties pushed them into a 1st-and-30 scenario, Bradford dialed up a long ball by stepping up into the pocket and hitting Nelson Agholor in perfect stride for a 53-yard touchdown. It was a perfect throw that demonstrated both deep ball accuracy and pocket awareness. It also helped that Agholor finished his route and found a soft spot between two defenders. The rest of Bradford's day was comprised mostly of dink-and-dunk short passes, with the exception of a couple of long balls. His 41-yarder to Ertz late in the fourth was a pass behind the line of scrimmage, of which Ertz did the rest. When it was all said and done, Bradford connected on 60.5 percent of his passes with one touchdown to one interception. The interception should be credited to Brent Celek. The throw was somewhat high but the placement was good. Celek had the ball ripped out of his hands by a defender after initially catching it. It was otherwise mistake-free football from the Eagles' passer, with exception an ugly sack right before the final two-minute warning. Working backwards, Bradford chose not to throw the ball away and instead occurred a 15-yard loss on third down with his team only up by three. His defense bailed him out a few plays later with an interception to end the game.

RB Ryan Mathews, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 38 - 0, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (2 targets)
Active for his first game since Week 10, and with some uncertainty regarding DeMarco Murray's workload, Ryan Mathews chipped in 15 total touche - more than any other Eagles' running back. Unfortunately, those touches were met with poor run-blocking, and he wasn't used in any goal line packages, which were a rarity for the Eagles in this game. He ended up playing fewer snaps than both Murray and Sproles on his way to unspectacular box score.

RB DeMarco Murray, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
After all the talk of DeMarco Murray being relegated to fourth string and possibly not even being active for this game, he ended up playing the second most snaps among running backs and handled the second most carries. All told, it wasn't a great day rushing for the Eagles with the exception of a few highlights. Only one of those highlights belonged to Murray when he cut and pounded ahead for a seven yard gain. The rest of his day was a combination of a few nice four-yard carries, accompanied with six carries for three yards or less. Overall, he looked effective and decisive. The offensive line struggled to make much room for any of their backs.

RB Darren Sproles, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 41 - 1, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (3 targets)
Darren Sproles was named the starter against the Bills and he immediately delivered. On his first carry deep in Bills' territory, Sproles blasted ahead for a 15 yard gain and came up just short of the goal line. He punched in the score from one yard out on his next carry. Even though he had fewer carries than both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, Sproles was easily the most effective. His short distance acceleration and burst fits perfectly within Kelly's scheme. He also had a great punt return midway through the second half that set the Eagles up on the Bills' side of the 50. He didn't contribute much as a receiver, but ultimately played the most snaps among running backs (albeit by a thin margin).

WR Nelson Agholor, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 62 - 1 (6 targets)
Nelson Agholor flashed what he is capable of on Sunday. Early in the first half he closed out a great route by beating his man and finding soft spot between two defenders. Sam Bradford delivered a perfect ball for a 53-yard touchdown - the first of Agholor's professional career. It should be noted that the Bills top cover corner wasn't active for this game, but it was still good to see what the rookie can do when his quarterback is playing well and the offensive line is protecting well. He didn't get much going after that touchdown. He dropped a third down pass early in the game, and had a ball knocked out of his hands on another third down pass late in the game. His six targets were tied for second most on the team.

WR Riley Cooper, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (6 targets)
Riley Cooper tied Nelson Agholor for the most targets among wide receivers. His first target was a beautiful 42-yard bomb, but the ball hit the ground as he was trying to secure it (originally called a catch but overturned after a Bills' challenge). He made some nice grabs later in the game, picking up three first downs on his way to 9.3 yards per catch. His worst part of the day came when he was flagged for a late hit out of bounds on a punt return that set up the Bills in Eagles territory late in the third quarter.

WR Josh Huff, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (3 targets)
Josh Huff played the third most snaps among receivers and contributed a nice 18 yard catch-and-run in which stiff-armed one defender to the ground and fought pass another one. He also fumbled the ball in the process but was lucky to be out of bounds. His only other reception came late in the first half on a perfect 10-yard pass from Sam Bradford for a first down. Now that Miles Austin has finally been released, we should see more of Huff.

TE Zach Ertz, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 98 - 0 (7 targets)
Zach Ertz led all Eagles players in yards not counting the quarterback. The highlight of the day came when he caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage, turned up field and trucked the first would be tackler to the ground, then carried another defender for about five yards before finally being brought down at the Buffalo 18. It was perhaps the biggest play of the game as it came on a third down late in the fourth with the Eagles tied 20-20. It could have also been called back when it looked as if Josh Huff illegally picked a defender on the play, setting up an open lane. In any case, Ertz was all over the defense in this game, catching five of his team-high seven targets and picking up the second most receiving yards of his career. He hasn't visited the end zone much this season, with only one touchdown to his name, but he's a major asset in Chip Kelly's offense.

TE Brent Celek, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets)
Brent Celek's only noteworthy play came when had a ball ripped out of his hands by a defender resulting in an interception for his quarterback. The throw was a touch high but still in a good spot. He initially caught it and had control when the defender was able to jump the possession before Celek could come down with it.