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Eagles Finally Taste Victory

September 29, 2003|From Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — All Donovan McNabb was looking for was a few first downs to run out the clock. What he and the Philadelphia Eagles got was Brian Westbrook's 62-yard touchdown run to seal a 23-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

It was a breakthrough performance for what had been a sputtering Eagle offense, and an important victory for a Philadelphia team still stinging after being outscored a combined 48-10 in losses to Tampa Bay and New England.

McNabb looked refreshed and decisive after spending part of the team's open week vacationing in Arizona. He even wouldn't allow himself to be bothered playing the final half with a jammed thumb on his throwing hand.

The thumb, McNabb said, was OK. The victory, sweeter.

"It felt good," McNabb said. "It was a great opportunity for us to come out fresh and we did that. Our offense made plays and our defense came up strong."

It didn't matter that the Eagles (1-2) almost squandered a 16-0 fourth-quarter lead.

"We're fighters," McNabb added. "Confidence-wise, we had it. It was just about going out and executing."

McNabb completed 18 of 29 passes for 172 yards and added 47 yards rushing. The Eagles offense responded, racking up 335 yards after averaging only 256.5 in its first two games.

Westbrook's was the game-deciding play, coming after the Bills (2-2) had cut the Eagle lead to 16-13 on Drew Bledsoe's one-yard keeper with 2:49 remaining.

The Eagles responded 39 seconds later when Westbrook broke through a hole, foiled Pierson Prioleau's one-armed tackle attempt and went untouched the rest of the way.

Correll Buckhalter scored on a two-yard plunge, while David Akers made three field goals, the longest from 34 yards.

Now it's the Bills' turn to worry, having lost two straight after opening the season with two impressive victories.

Offensively, Buffalo managed only 129 yards through three quarters -- reminiscent of the 118 yards of net offense the Bills managed in last weekend's 17-7 loss at Miami.

"What can you do?" receiver Eric Moulds said. "We started off 2-0 and dropped the last two.... It's hard right now. You have to pick out what you did in tomorrow's film and see what you did to help the team and what you didn't do to help the team."

Bledsoe didn't find his rhythm until it was too late, engineering two scoring drives -- including a three-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Shaw -- in the final quarter. Bledsoe was 27 of 43 for 296 yards.

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