So dominant was the Bucs' 45-17 win over the Eagles on Sunday that you could have easily missed a few things. Here are five …
1 It didn't start well for the Bucs defense. The uptempo Eagles marched 86 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead, never getting to third down along the way.
"You can practice all you want, but you're not ready for it until it comes at you," said safety Chris Conte, who would later get one of three Bucs interceptions. "You've got a lot of adrenaline going, and everything's flying around. Once you calm down, you realize it's not that fast. They're running the same plays over and over again."
DT Gerald McCoy told the defense that an uptempo offense like the Eagles' will have "a first 14" scripted plays: "Get past those plays and you slow down and play our defense."
The next four drives against the Bucs? Four punts, with just one first down and 27 total yards, allowing the offense to take a 21-7 lead and control of the game.
2 Two rare touches for fullback Jorvorskie Lane were huge. Lane had two catches and no carries all season, but twice he fell on the ball to avoid a setback.
Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Jameis Winston was sacked and fumbled, but Lane fell on the loose ball at the Bucs 12-yard line to avoid a turnover. When the Bucs put their "hands team" out for an Eagles onside kick — with Philadelphia down 21 with 5:14 left — it was Lane who recovered the kick for the Bucs.
"I used what they put me out there for, my hands," Lane said. "With Jameis, it was kind of my fault that the ball was on the ground, as far as pass protection."
3 WR Russell Shepard got his first NFL touchdown, on the exact play he stayed late to work on after Friday's practice.
"We practiced it three times this week and we didn't get it once," said Shepard, facing the team and coach that cut him as a rookie in 2013. "I was thankful (offensive coordinator) Dirk (Koetter) still called it. It was an amazing opportunity and a great throw by Jameis."
4 Jacquies Smith also thinks his knee was down. Smith, returning after missing two games with an ankle injury, recovered a fumble forced by Will Gholston on the game's third play only to fumble himself on his return, with the Eagles recovering. Replays seemed to show Smith's knee was down before the fumble, but the call was upheld after review.
"I thought it was down, too," Smith said. "I have to go back and look at the rule book and see what's going on with that. The refs made the call and we have to go along with that, but hypothetically speaking, I thought I was down."
5 The rest of the NFL helped the Bucs out on Sunday. Before the game, the Bucs were one of six NFC teams two games out of the wild card. Not only did the Falcons lose to fall to 6-4, four of the 4-5 teams lost, leaving the Bucs and Seahawks one game out of the second wild card.
Tampa already beat Atlanta on the road and gets it at home in two weeks with a chance to make up ground.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.