ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Stop me if this sounds familiar: Brandon Graham came up with a huge forced fumble for the Eagles on Sunday.
OK, this one wasn’t in the Super Bowl, but it was a pretty important situation in the 2019 season.
With 2:00 left in the first half of the Eagles’ 31-13 win over the Bills, Graham knocked the ball out of Josh Allen’s hand on a QB keeper and then he recovered the fumble too.
“It was big. It was really big for us,” Fletcher Cox said. “We always talk about when we have a running quarterback, when they try to run the ball, just try to get it out. It was a tempo-setter. That just kind of took the life out of them early in the game.”
At the time of that forced fumble, the Bills had a 7-3 lead and were probably going to go into halftime with that lead because the Eagles’ offense had struggled to get anything going. But this turnover gave Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ offense the ball on the Bills’ 24-yard line. Five plays later, Wentz hit Dallas Goedert for a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a lead they didn’t lose again.
Graham’s play was the turning point of the game and maybe the season.
“That was huge,” Wentz said. “Any time the defense can create a turnover, that’s huge. And then obviously for us to take advantage of the good field position, to take advantage of the momentum, that’s really what we try and do every time we step on the field. We try and control the ball offensively, but when the defense can create a turnover, we've got to capitalize, and we were able to do that today.”
On the strip, Graham said the Bills checked to that QB keeper and he heard Nathan Gerry yell, “Power! Power!” So Graham just came across the face of his blocker and got his hand on the ball to knock it out.
While Graham certainly understood the importance of the play, he said he really didn’t do anything too special.
“I just poked at the ball,” he said. “That’s all I really did.”
Graham finished Sunday’s game tied for a team-high six tackles, one sack, two TFLs, and the forced fumble and fumble recovery. Through eight games, Graham has five sacks. After a slow start to his 2019 season, Graham is now on pace for his first-career 10-sack season.
A big reason the Eagles won on Sunday was because their best players played well. That included Graham and Cox, who has also started to come on really strong in recent weeks. Cox had 1½ sacks on Sunday and now has 2½ in his last two games after getting shut out in the first six weeks of the season. Cox’s sack in the first quarter was a strip sack, but the Bills recovered.
Graham made sure he was able to fall on the ball after his own forced fumble and it became the biggest play of the game and of the season to date.
“We got that one,” Graham said, “and didn’t look back after that.”