Bradford, Cox lead Eagles to 39-17 win over Saints
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Chip Kelly was so eager to celebrate a win he ran on the field before the game ended.
He hasn’t had much practice lately.
Sam Bradford overcame two red-zone interceptions and threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray each rushed for touchdowns and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints 39-17 on Sunday.
Fletcher Cox forced two fumbles on sacks to help the Eagles (2-3) snap a three-game losing streak at home that dated to last season. The Eagles had lost six of their previous eight games since beating the Cowboys in Dallas last Thanksgiving. They were 9-3 at that point and led the NFC East, but lost three of the final four to miss the playoffs.
”We had to win a football game,” Kelly said. ”We executed. We didn’t change what we were doing from a schematic standpoint.”
Drew Brees had three turnovers leading to 17 points for Philadelphia, and the Saints fell to 1-4 a week after an overtime win against Dallas.
”It is a setback,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. ”We didn’t do a good job coaching and executing.”
It looked like more of the same problems for the Eagles after Bradford threw two interceptions in the end zone, but he bounced back from the rough start.
Bradford got going with a 41-yard catch-and-run TD pass to Josh Huff, who did a flip into the end zone to tie it at 7 in the second quarter.
The Eagles broke the game open in the third. Mathews ran in from the 2 to complete a 65-yard drive to give Philadelphia a 17-10 lead. Bradford connected with Huff for 19 yards a play before the score.
On the Saints’ next snap, Cox sacked Brees, forced a fumble and recovered it at the 13. Bradford connected with Brent Celek on the following play to put Philadelphia ahead 23-10, but Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point.
Walter Thurmond intercepted Brees and returned it 44 yards to the 4 to set up Murray’s 4-yard TD run that made it 39-10.
Brees threw a 14-yard TD pass to Brandin Cooks on the final play. Kelly ran onto the field toward Brees to shake hands, but had to go back to the sideline for the extra point.
Here’s some things to know about the game:
CREDIT THE BIG GUYS: A maligned offensive line paved the way for the Eagles to total 519 yards. Three guys – left tackle Jason Peters, right tackle Lane Johnson and left guard Allen Barbre – played through injuries and the unit had its best performance of the season. Bradford wasn’t sacked. ”They were phenomenal,” Bradford said.
DREW’S SHOULDER: Brees’ passing production hasn’t slowed after he missed a game with a shoulder injury. He is 59 of 84 for 694 yards, four TDs and one INT in the last two games.
BEAST MODE: Cox had three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The former first-round pick has been Philadelphia’s steadiest defensive lineman. ”All three of those sacks were coverage sacks,” Cox said. ”When the quarterback holds the football, it gives the rush time to get there.”
TURNOVER PRONE: Brees lost two fumbles and threw an interception and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui also lost a fumble. The Eagles scored 20 points off those turnovers. Meanwhile, the Saints got seven points off Philadelphia’s two turnovers. ”You can’t give it away four or five different times and expect to win,” Payton said.
CALEB’S KICKS: Sturgis was 4 for 4 on field goals, connecting from 39, 29, 26 and 41 yards. But he missed an extra point for the second time in two games since replacing injured Cody Parkey. The Eagles lost 23-20 at Washington last week when Sturgis also missed a 33-yard field goal.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi