(Reuters) - The Buffalo Bills fought off a determined Philadelphia comeback bid to claim a 31-24 win on Sunday and send the Eagles to a fourth consecutive defeat.
Buffalo cashed in on Philadelphia mistakes scoring touchdowns off two of quarterback Michael Vick’s four interceptions in improving their record to 4-1.
Dubbed the Dream Team in the preseason because of some big-name free-agent signings, the Eagles have endured a nightmare start with their only victory coming over winless St. Louis in their season-opener.
Once again, the Eagles contributed to their own demise, particularly in a sloppy opening half littered with turnovers, costly penalties, bad decisions and poor tackling.
The miscues added up to a 28-7 third quarter deficit, a hole they were unable to climb out as furious late rally fizzled.
”We were trying to confuse Michael, trying to keep him off balance,“ Buffalo coach Chan Gailey told reporters. ”You can’t sit there and do one or two things against him and expect to slow him down.
“When you get five turnovers and you don’t turn it over but once, and the turnover that we gave them, they ended up coming out with nothing right before the half...you get 5-1 (turnover ratio), you give yourself a great chance to win.”
Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21 passes for 193 yards, including a six-yard touchdown to David Nelson. Fred Jackson and Brad Smith also ran for scores.
Despite the turnovers it was a record breaking afternoon for Vick who ran for 90 yards to claim the National Football League’s quarterback career rushing record with 4,948 yards, eclipsing the old mark held by former Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham.
Vick, who signed a six-year $100 million deal prior to the start of the season, completed 26-of-40 passes for 315 yards passing and touchdowns to LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin but his day’s work also included a career worst four pickoffs.
”Sitting at 1-4, there’s really not too much you can say, whether you’re a good team or a bad team,“ said Vick. ”As a quarterback an interception is an interception.
“Regardless of how you look at it, the world is going to judge you as throwing an interception.”
Two of those interceptions came is the opening quarter, the Bills converting the first into a five-yard Jackson touchdown to the delight of a capacity sun-bathed crowd of over 70,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Eagles finally got on the scoreboard early in the second, Vick connecting with a wide open Maclin for his 100th career touchdown pass, but the Bills came right back Fitzpatrick answering with 77-yard drive capped by a six-yard pass to Nelson.
The next possession, Vick was off target again intercepted by Nick Barnett who returned it 31 yards for a 21-7 Buffalo halftime lead.
The Bills roared out of the break, Fitzpatrick marching his team 80 yards for the score, Smith diving over from the five.
Unable to get much done with his arm, Vick did it with his feet scrambling 53 yards to set up a 10 yard McCoy touchdown run.
The Bills continued to cash in on Philadelphia mistakes, converting a Jason Avant fumble into a 25-yard Rian Lindell field goal for a 31-14 lead heading into the final quarter.
But Eagles’ big playmakers began to step up in the fourth, Jackson taking a short pass from Vick and weaving his way 31 yards into the end zone.
Alex Henery would follow with a 35-yard field goal with over nine minutes still to play but the Eagles would get no closer, Barnett grabbing his second interception to snuff out Philadelphia’s last scoring chance.
Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Gene Cherry