Bradford, Cox lead Eagles to 39-17 win over Saints
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — All those playmakers Chip Kelly acquired made plays in the same game.
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.
“After what we were able to do in the preseason, everybody has been waiting for this,” Bradford said. “It’s a great feeling. Now, we have to build off it.”
Bradford, Murray and Mathews were key offseason additions when Kelly took control of personnel decisions and made massive changes. Bradford led the offense to four touchdowns in his only four series in the preseason, raising expectations. But the team didn’t play like a playoff contender in the first four games.
“There’s a lot of playmakers on offense, a lot of new parts,” Murray said. “I think everyone is getting a feel for each other.”
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.
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.
“You can’t give it away four or five different times and expect to win. You just can’t,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
It looked like more of the same problems for the Eagles after Bradford threw two INTs 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 period. 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.
Late in the second quarter, Cox sacked Brees and forced a fumble recovered by Jordan Hicks at the Saints 39. Sturgis kicked a 39-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Eagles had a first down at the Saints 12 when Bradford was picked off by Brandon Browner in the end zone in the first quarter. Brees immediately drove New Orleans downfield and threw a 6-yard TD pass to Ben Watson for a 7-0 lead.
On Philadelphia’s next possession, Devin Breaux intercepted Bradford’s pass from the 14 in the end zone. But the defense forced a punt.
“It needs to be better. We’re not scoring enough points,” Brees said.
Kelly has been heavily criticized for his personnel decisions, play-calling and overall philosophy. He silenced his critics for at least one week.
“We executed,” Kelly said. “We didn’t change what we were doing from a schematic standpoint.”
NOTES: Brees finished 26 of 43 for 335 yards, two TDs and one interception. ... Murray had 83 yards rushing on 20 carries. Mathews had 73 yards on eight carries. ... The Eagles were missing starting LBs Kiko Alonso (knee) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring). ... Saints didn’t have four-time All-Pro G Jahri Evans (knee). WR Marques Colston left with an arm injury. ... Bradford has nine career 300-yard games.
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