ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - The Eagles took a different path to defeat Sunday.
Instead of blowing an early lead as in their previous three losses, they staged a second-half rally. The Eagles still came up short, however, suffering a 31-24 setback to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"It's tough," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I appreciated the way the guys battled. They continued to battle the whole game. If we can fix the mistakes, we can get this thing turned around."
Reid's football team is struggling. Four straight defeats - the team's longest skid since it also lost four in a row in 2005 - dropped the Eagles to 1-4 for the first time since 1999, which was Reid's first season as their coach.
Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1990, only five teams that started 1-4 wound up making making the playoffs: the 2004 Green Bay Packers, 2002 New York Jets, 2002 Tennessee Titans, 1993 Houston Oilers and 1992 San Diego Chargers. All five teams also won their division.
"At some point, you would hope things will turn around for us," quarterback Michael Vick said. "But only time will tell."
The Eagles looked as if they would start that turnaround Sunday.
After falling behind 28-7, they kept fighting until they drew within seven points at 31-24 on rookie Alex Henery's 35-yard field goal with 9 minutes, 29 seconds left in regulation.
Two major mistakes down the stretch cost them the opportunity to at least force overtime.
The Eagles had driven to the Bills' 25-yard line when Vick fired a short pass to wide receiver Jason Avant. Cornerback Drayton Florence jarred the ball loose and linebacker Nick Barnett snared his second interception of the game to thwart the Eagles' scoring attempt.
Avant also lost a fumble earlier the game. The Eagles committed a season-high five turnovers, including four Vick interceptions.
"I don't know what happened," Avant said. "The first one (the fumble), I thought I had it secured and the guy (Bills safety Jairus Byrd) knocked it out. On the second one, (Florence) came for the ball before I had a chance to tuck it in. It was a great play by him."
Despite all the miscues, the Eagles had one last shot at completing the comeback.
The defense forced the Bills into a fourth-and-1 situation with 1:23 left. The Bills initially sent punter Brian Moorman out but decided to keep the offense on the field.
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick barked out signals, varying his cadence in an effort to draw the Eagles offsides. Although the ploy rarely works, it did this time. Just as the playclock was about to expire, Eagles defensive end Juqua Parker lurched across the line of scrimmage. The 5-yard encroachment penalty gave the Bills a first down and allowed them to run out the clock.
"I kind of felt like they were going to snap it," Parker said. "And I pretty much just jumped offsides."
For most of the first three quarters, the Eagles played as if they had eaten too many Buffalo chicken wings Saturday night.
The Bills jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead. Vick's first two possessions ended in interceptions, though both balls were tipped. In between, Bills running back Fred Jackson took advantage of the Eagles' shoddy run defense with a 5-yard TD.
After the Eagles tied the score at 7-7 on Vick's 2-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the Bills took the lead for good on Fitzpatrick's 6-yard TD pass to wide receiver David Nelson and Barnett's 31-yard interception return.
Buffalo, which was supposed to struggle this season, is 4-1 and tied with New England for first place in the AFC East.
"Nobody expected us to to be 4-1," Fitzpatrick said. "I think after losing to Cincinnati last week everyone had us pegged at 3-2 (and losing to the Eagles). ... But we think we've got a great team and we try to show that every Sunday."
Conversely, nobody expected the Eagles to be 1-4. They entered the season as the favorites to win the NFC East and contend for a spot in the Super Bowl. They are in last place in the division and among NFC teams, only St. Louis (0-4) has fewer victories.
The so-called Dream Team is now closer to having the first overall pick in next year's NFL draft as the team with the worst record than it is to making the playoffs.
"Listen, we're in this one game at a time," Reid said. "I'm not looking at playoffs or anything else. We are what we are right now and we're going to get better. We have no excuses. We've got to get better."
Contact David Weinberg:
Philadelphia 0 7 7 10-24
Buffalo 7 14 10 0-31
Buf-Jackson 5 run (Lindell kick), 8:03.
Phi-Maclin 2 pass from Vick (Henery kick), 12:42.
Buf-Nelson 6 pass from Fitzpatrick (Lindell kick), 9:17.
Buf-Barnett 31 interception return (Lindell kick), 9:00.
Buf-B.Smith 5 run (Lindell kick), 9:11.
Phi-McCoy 10 run (Henery kick), 7:17.
Buf-FG Lindell 25, 1:15.
Phi-D.Jackson 31 pass from Vick (Henery kick), 14:51.
Phi-FG Henery 35, 9:29.
First downs 24 21
Rushing 7 9
Passing 16 10
Penalty 1 2
Third down eff 2-9 6-14
Fourth down eff 1-1 0-0
Total net yards 489 331
Total plays 60 63
Avg gain 8.2 5.3
Rushes-yards 19-174 35-143
Avg per rush 9.2 4.1
Passing 315 188
Sacked-yds lost 1-0 1-5
Gross-yds passing 315 193
Completed-att. 26-40 21-27
Had intercepted 4 1
Yards-pass play 7.7 6.7
Punt returns 2-27 0-0
Kickoff returns 4-78 2-38
Total return yardage 115 90
Interceptions ret. 1-10 4-52
Comp-att-int 26-40-4 21-27-1
Sacked-yards lost 1-0 1-5
Punts 2-36.0 5-50.2
Punts blocked 0 0
FGs-PATs blocked 0-0 0-0
KICKOFFS-endzone-tb 5-5-3 6-3-2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-46 4-40
Interceptions 1-10 4-52
Time of possession 26:22 33:38
RUSHING-Philadelphia, Vick 5-90, McCoy 11-80, Lewis 2-8, D.Jackson 1-(minus 4). Buffalo, Jackson 26-111, Spiller 2-13, B.Smith 4-12, Fitzpatrick 3-7.
PASSING-Philadelphia, Vick 26-40-4-315. Buffalo, Fitzpatrick 21-27-1-193.
RECEIVING-Philadelphia, Avant 9-139, Maclin 6-54, D.Jackson 5-86, McCoy 4-27, Celek 1-6, Harbor 1-3. Buffalo, Jackson 6-85, Roosevelt 5-41, St.Johnson 4-29, Jones 2-25, Spiller 2-3, Nelson 1-6, Chandler 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.
PUNT RETURNS-Philadelphia, D.Jackson 2-27. Buffalo, None.
KICKOFF RETURNS-Philadelphia, Lewis 3-62, Cooper 1-16. Buffalo, B.Smith 2-38.
TACKLES-ASSISTS-SACKS-Philadelphia, Allen 10-3-0, Page 7-4-0, Rolle 5-4-0, Chaney 4-4-0, Asomugha 4-1-0, Jenkins 3-3-1, Babin 3-2-0, Rodgers-Cromartie 3-0-0, Tapp 2-1-0, Laws 1-1-0, Patterson 1-1-0, Anderson 1-0-0, Avant 1-0-0, Celek 1-0-0, Dunlap 1-0-0, Hanson 1-0-0, Herremans 1-0-0, Landri 1-0-0, Parker 1-0-0, Fokou 0-3-0, Coleman 0-2-0, Cooper 0-1-0, Hughes 0-1-0. Buffalo, Wilson 11-0-0, Byrd 8-0-0, Scott 4-1-0, McKelvin 4-0-0, Moats 3-2-0, Sheppard 3-0-0, Barnett 2-1-0, Carrington 2-0-0, Florence 2-0-0, Sp.Johnson 1-1-0, Martin 1-1-0, B.Smith 1-1-0, Merriman 1-0-1, Corner 1-0-0, McIntyre 1-0-0, L.Smith 1-0-0, Urbik 1-0-0, Davis 0-1-0.
INTERCEPTIONS-Philadelphia, Chaney 1-10. Buffalo, Barnett 2-47, Corner 1-4, Wilson 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.
OFFICIALS-Referee Walt Coleman, Ump Roy Ellison, HL Ed Camp, LJ Michael Spanier, FJ Greg Gautreaux, SJ Rick Patterson, BJ Greg Yette, Replay Bill Spyskma.