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Bucs-Eagles: Ryan Fitzpatrick, teammates are not who we thought they were

The Bucs QB became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 400 yards and four touchdowns in each of the first two games to start the season.
When you throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns after beating Drew Brees and the defending Super Bowl champs in back to back weeks, you can dress however you want. Fitzpatrick showed up for his postgame press conference Sunday looking like he had raided DeSean Jackson's wardrobe -- which he had. Said Fitzpatrick: "The chest hair is mine." THOMAS BASSINGER | Times
Published Sep. 16, 2018
Updated Sep. 17, 2018

TAMPA  — Ryan Fitzpatrick was ready to dress for success. After shredding the Philadelphia Eagles for 402 yards passing and four touchdowns in a 27-21 win Sunday, once again he was helped out by receiver DeSean Jackson.

First, he put on the black, gold-rimmed sunglasses. Then came the receiver's cable necklace thick enough to hold an expansion bridge. Next he was handed the blinding, diamond-encrusted 1 of 1 pendant, followed by a diamond bracelet on his left wrist.

Finally, as teammates roared in approval in the locker room, a shirtless Fitzpatrick pulled a silk black jacket with white trim over his bare shoulders and zipped it only halfway.

"We just have to stay humble,'' Fitzpatrick deadpanned as he stepped to the podium for the postgame interview. "We've got to make sure we know how to handle success and all those things. We can't change who we are.''

The Bucs are not who we thought they were.

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Frankly, neither is the 35-year-old Fitzpatrick, the leader of this bling dynasty.

Not only did he become the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 400 yards and four touchdowns in each of the first two games to start the season, Fitzpatrick gave the Bucs a 2-0 start for the first time since 2010.

A week ago, Fitzpatrick passed for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns while running for a score in a 48-40 win at New Orleans.

But nobody probably thought he could duplicate that Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.

But just like a week ago, FitzMagic cast his spell early, connecting with Jackson on a 75-yard touchdown pass only 11 seconds into the game.

It wasn't the play that came into the huddle. But Fitzpatrick saw Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby blitz off the edge, leaving a safety to rotate to Mike Evans on the left side. That left Jackson one on one with Jalen Mills, and he easily beat him for a 75-yard touchdown.

"I looked up at the Jumbotron and saw Fitz step back and throw it and said, 'It's got to be coming to me,' Jackson said. "So I stayed thin, he threw it to the middle of the field, I tried to run away from the defender, cut back and the rest is history.''

History is what Fitzpatrick seems bent on making.

On Sunday, he threw touchdowns to four different players: In addition to the 75-yard bomb to Jackson, he hit tight end O.J. Howard for a 75-yard touchdown, receiver Chris Godwin for an 8-yard score and Evans for a 4-yard TD.

"It's a quarterback's dream to be in the huddle with those guys,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I'm getting to do it with the guys up front. I'm getting time to survey the field and pick and choose. It was another day. We had our struggles. It wasn't perfect. There was a little bit more of a grind than last week. We had our lull for a little bit. But the guys stayed on it and made plays when they had to.''

Even the Bucs' mistakes erased big chunk plays. Fitzpatrick hit Howard on a pass over the middle, but he coughed up the ball and it was technically ruled an interception by Darby. Then Evans caught a 16-yard pass in the fourth quarter but lost a fumble trying to struggle for extra yards.

Like Fitzpatrick, the 31-year-old Jackson is seeing a rebirth in his second season with the Bucs. A year ago, he only caught 50 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns. But playing with Fitzpatrick, his third TD came with his sixth reception of the season. In two games, Jackson has nine catches for 275 yards and three TDs, a gaudy 30.6 yard average.

"He's lost a step,'' Fitzpatrick shouted from the next locker.

"They all think I'm old and slow and can't play anymore,'' Jackson said. "He knows better than that.''

Jackson looked back at Fitzpatrick. "How old are you, bro?'' he said.

"Thirty-one?"

"I've got an 11-year-old,'' Fitzpatrick said, pointing to his son Brady, who was sitting in his dad's locker with his brother, Tate.

"It was unbelievable,'' Jackson said. "He's playing out of the world right now. Us old guys are in our prime.''

The playfulness continued in the interview room when a shirtless Jackson arrived during Fitzpatrick's post-game press conference.

"I got like two more (questions), because D-Jax needs his stuff,'' Fitzpatrick said.

He was asked if anything he was wearing belonged to him.

"The chest hair is mine,'' Fitzpatrick said.

So is the ride the Bucs are on right now. When Winston was suspended three games, nobody expected the Bucs to navigate this gauntlet of opponents to start the season. They've stunned the Saints and Eagles. Next it's the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

Who knows what happens after that? Jameis Winston will be eligible to play at Chicago Sept. 30. Right now, nobody is talking about that.

After talking to reporters, Fitzpatrick changed back into his Hawaiian shirt. He did an interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio. He talked to NFL Network's Deion Sanders on 21st and Prime. He did a radio interview as he walked to greet about 20 family members, including his wife, Liza, and their other four children. He picked up each of his three daughters and kissed them on the forehead.

The song that played throughout Raymond James Stadium Sunday was still ringing in their ears.

Oh, ho, ho, it's magic you know

Never believe it's not so!

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