On a beautiful, luminescent and balmy December Sunday afternoon at the Linc that seemed to shout to the celestial heavens that global warming is a good thing for the here and now if not for the future, the Philadelphia Eagles gulped through the Shady McCoy distraction, clutched it up and beat the Buffalo Bills 23-20 in a grit-and-gristle game.
The Eagles inched closer to .500 at 6-7 but, more importantly, remained in a tie for first place in the NFC East, which is kind of either the Newark or Camden of the NFL divisions.
The Birds’ defense shivered the synapses of the Bills and in so doing, ripped the babushkas of gloom from the sweaty heads of non-believers who still had ye little faith after Philly somehow walked on water in shocking the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots the previous game.
McCoy, the man-child who still is immaturely simmering because Chip Kelly didn’t call him prior to shipping his rebellious butt to Buffalo in the offseason, sulked into the tunnel when the final seconds ticked off the clock.
McCoy did not encounter any Eagles players during the pregame warmup. He did embrace Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and he did not shoot Kelly. In typical Rex Ryan chutzpah, the Bills sent McCoy to midfield as their lone captain before the game. McCoy kissed the Eagles logo before the coin toss. But he hardly made an emphatic statement of vengeance, finishing with a pedestrian 74 rushing and 35 receiving yards.
In place of McCoy at running back, Kelly divided the carries among The Three Musketeers of Ryan Mathews (who started perhaps because DeMarco Murray went over Kelly’s head and bitched about his lack of playing time against the Patriots to Lurie on the flight home from New England — bad form after such an astonishing upset), Darren Sproles and Murray.
Sam Bradford, whose oversized helmet continues to make him look like the Lord Helmet character in Spaceballs, had an OK game — going 23 for 38 for 247 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Tight end Zach Ertz had the Eagles’ biggest catch, a 41-yard, third-down completion late in the fourth quarter that set up the winning 30-yard field goal.
They won’t be painting this Eagles season in watercolor and preserving it on a postcard. But if they somehow manage to trudge through their mediocrity to a division title and a home playoff game, they will garner some ambivalent admiration.