Game 6: Eagles at Bucs
Some thoughts before we start tracking today's game:
- The Eagles have scored at least 24 points in each of their games. The Bucs have scored 24 points once. Something's gotta give.
- SIM RICE, COME HOME: In recent successes against Philadelphia (granted, the teams haven't faced off in three years), defensive end Simeon Rice terrorized Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (2003 Times photo by Bill Serne; click to enlarge). In today's St. Petersburg Times, columnist Gary Shelton called out that Simeon.
- AFTER BOOGER: Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland has been traded to Indianapolis. Ellis Wyms is now the successor to Warren Sapp. Beat writer Rick Stroud said McFarland's departure is the latest sign the Bucs are breakin' up that old defensive gang of ours.
- TEDDY BEAR: No. 1 draft pick Davin Joseph seems like a well-grounded fellow, according to Stephen F. Holder's profile.
- IN BRUCE WE TRUST? Shelton and fellow wise guy John Romano have a back-and-forth about Bucs rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and the heat Philly will bring with its pass rush.
- Well, the Eagles are good at shooting themselves in the foot. Opening drive deep into Bucs territory, then an unforced error (fumble). Later, another long gain followed by an interception.
- On the Bucs side, little of anything on offense. Cadillac Williams has 13 yards on six carries. Gradkowski is 1-of-4 for 8 yards. They did win a challenge.
- Eagles 0, Bucs 0
- Shades of the NFC Championship Game. Bucs show blitz. McNabb audibles to short slant pass. Ronde Barber steps in for easy pick and walk-in touchdown. (AP photo; click to enlarge.)
Bucs 7, Eagles 0
- The replay is excellent. Ronde is covering the slot, but he leaves his man to step in front of the slant pass intended for the outside receiver.
- McNabb seems rattled, or overheated as Fox analyst Brian Baldinger is wondering. McNabb fumbles snap on third down.
- Bucs three downs and out again. Fifteen offensive plays, 28 yards. But no turnovers.
- McNabb is capable of handing off. Consecutive Eagles runs gain 33 yards.
- Hello, Ellis. Wyms gets his third sack in two games.
- Bucs defense looks stout. If the Bucs get any offense . . . on the other hand, would it surprise you if Jon Gruden played field position and hammered the Iggles with Cadillac?
- Nice work in the pocket by Gradkowski. A couple sidesteps buys him time. First down.
- Again, after a poorly thrown deep ball, Gradkowski shows his quick feet to avoid the blitz and find Paris Warren for a first down and his first National Football League catch. Paris who, you say? Second year out of Utah. Hometown Sacramento. That's about it on the Bucs site.
- Jeremy Trueblood's tripping penalty takes Bucs out of field goal range. Well, Matt Bryant can kick it 52 yards, but he's likely to miss and there's no point in giving McNabb a shorter field.
- Bucs thwart screen pass, but McNabb escapes and scrambles for 20 yards.
- Bucs send blitzers and nobody is watching Brian Westbrook -- how does that happen? -- and he gains 29 yards.
- First-and-goal at the Bucs 6 with nine seconds left.
- Oh my. McNabb finishes a two-interception half with a mental blunder. He doesn't throw into the end zone and his receiver is tackled short. The clock runs out.
- McNabb, with 156 yards, is en route to another 300-yard day, and yet he's played poorly.
- The Eagles offense has gained 250 yards, well above their league-leading average, but those three turnovers killed them.
- Questions for the second half: Which cracks first? The Eagles' frustrated offense? Or the Bucs defense, which is on pace to be on the field for 70-plus plays.
- Cadillac: 10 carries, 20 yards.
- Gradkowski: 6-of-12, 59 yards.
- Cadillac for 6, Cadillac for 7. Cadillac for 11. Cadillac for 7. Cadillac for water break. Okay, Cadillac for 1 but the Bucs needed 2. Fourth and short at the Eagles 36.
Bucs 10, Eagles 0. Nice opening drive.
Bucs 17, Eagles 0. Help me, Ronde. Barber is all over McNabb. 66 yards for another touchdown.
- The Bucs defense is giving McNabb the short stuff underneath.
- The Bucs defense is giving McNabb room to run.
Bucs 17, Eagles 7. He's having a bad day, but McNabb is fighting like hell. He avoids several sackers and throws a touchdown pass.
- McNabb just puked. Good timeout by the Eagles.
- Two good running backs on display: Cadillac and Westbrook.
- Stats update: McNabb has 211 yards passing, 76 rushing and one Chunky Soup barf.
Bucs 17, Eagles 14. McNabb buys time. Touchdown, Reggie Brown. Somebody spike McNabb's Gatorade with Ex-Lax.
- Bucs needs to buy their defense a break. First down, Cadillac. Ten carries for 58 yards this half.
- Big sack, but facemask and unsportsmanlike on Jerome McDougle, who kicked the penalty flag. Thirty yards of penalties and Bucs are at Eagles 43. Clock ticking.
- Bucs miss deep throw, but clock stops.
- Third-and-critical: Gradkowski to Ike Hilliard for just enough.
Bucs 20, Eagles 14. Bryant field goal, but most important, a six-minute drive when it matters.
- Here we go. Two minutes, 49 seconds.
- An Eagles first down at the 2-minute warning.
Eagles 21, Bucs 20. On third-and-6, Westbrook takes a 4-yard pass and makes about six Bucs miss. A 52-yard touchdown.
- Westbrook has 13 carries for 101 yards, seven catches for 113 yards.
- Bucs need 30 yards to get into field goal range.
- Bucs reach Eagles 44. No timeouts. 10 seconds left.
- Well, here goes Matt Bryant from 62 yards.
Bucs 23, Eagles 21