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Westbrook leads Philly ground attack

9/29/2003

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

Question on the Eagles: How important was it for Philly to stop the bleeding today?
This was a great win for the Eagles. Coach Andy Reid obviously did a great job focusing this team and keeping their heads in the present during their bye week. The Eagles didn't play like a team that was 0-2, they played like they knew would win this game.

Question on the Bills: Are these two losses simply a product of playing good competition?
Yes and no. The past two weeks, they have played two tough teams with something to prove. That's part of the reason why the Bills have dropped these last two games. But they also are too focused on throwing the ball. They must show a commitment to the running game. Bledsoe is not going to win them games by himself. They need to help him as much as much as possible or they'll continue to lose to good teams.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

It was a breakthrough performance for what had been a sputtering
Eagles' offense, and an important victory for a Philadelphia team
(1-2) 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 bye 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 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 finished 18-of-29 for 172 yards and added 47 yards
rushing. The Eagles offense responded, racking up 335 yards after
averaging just 256.5 in its first two games.

Westbrook's was the game-deciding play, coming after the Bills
had cut the Eagles lead to 16-13 on Drew Bledsoe's 1-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 2-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 just 129 yards through three
periods -- 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 3-yard touchdown pass
to Bobby Shaw -- in the final quarter.

Bledsoe was 27-of-43 for 296 yards, but the Bills got little
help from their running game, which was without starter Travis Henry (torn rib cartilage) and backup Sammy Morris (hernia).

Third-stringer Joe Burns finished with only 17 yards on eight
carries.

Defensively, the Bills were inconsistent, particularly in
allowing the Eagles to convert nine of 16 third-down attempts.

"We have to get a lot better," linebacker London Fletcher
said. "We've gone from talking about winning the division to
making the playoffs. And we have to play better, especially in our
stadium."

The Eagles' defensive performance was particularly impressive,
considering they were missing three starters and then lost
cornerback Troy Vincent, who didn't return after straining his
hamstring on Buffalo's opening possession.

Lito Sheppard filled in for injured cornerback Bobby Taylor,
Clinton Hart played in place of Brian Dawkins, while Sheldon Brown
replaced Vincent.

"They did a great job stepping in and playing against a
talented group of receivers and a great quarterback," coach Andy
Reid said. "I'm proud of this football team. We hung together and
did a great job."

The Eagles appeared to have the game in hand when they went up
10-0 on their first two possessions. The 10 first-quarter points
matched Philadelphia's combined total in its first two games.

Philadelphia eventually went up 16-0 when Akers hit a 22-yarder
with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.

Westbrook, who finished with 11 carries for 96 yards, was
impressed by how McNabb didn't let the offense falter.

"I think Donovan has always been a confident player, and he
showed that today,'' Westbrook said. "When he plays well, his
personality really shows.''

Game notes
Eagles LB Keith Adams (concussion) and OL Jermane Mayberry
(sprained elbow) were both listed as day-to-day. ... With 41 yards
rushing against Miami last weekend, the Bills have combined for 62
yards on the ground in their last two games. ... Bills WR Josh Reed
left the game with a back injury.