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In their biggest test of the season so far, the Bucs allowed nearly 500 yards of offense in a 25-11 loss to the Eagles Monday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Jalen Hurts threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Philadelphia (3-0) joined San Francisco and Miami as the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten teams.
Tampa Bay fell to 2-1, becoming the third team from the NFC South to slip from the ranks of the unbeaten this weekend, following Atlanta and New Orleans.
The Eagles hurt the Bucs on the ground and through the air, as Hurts (23-of-37) passed for 277 yards and D’Andre Swift picked up 130 of Philadelphia’s 201 rushing yards. The Eagles finished with 472 yards in all (Hurts was sacked once for minus-6 yards).
Hurts threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus in the second quarter and scored on a 1-yard run in the third.
Jake Elliott added field goals of 36, 38 and 26 yards for the Eagles. Chase McLaughlin made a 33-yarder for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield was 15-of-25 for 146 yards and a touchdown. He threw his first interception of the season, and Rachaad White lost a fumble (around a Devin White interception) late in the second quarter. The turnovers opened the door for Elliott’s second field goal, which gave the Eagles a 13-3 halftime lead.
One play after an acrobatic Dee Delaney interception at the Bucs 1 late in the third quarter, Rachaad White was stopped in the end zone for a safety, extending Philadelphia’s lead to 22-3.
A 1-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to Mike Evans and two-point conversion pass to Chris Godwin trimmed the Bucs’ deficit to 25-11 with about 9-1/2 minutes to play.
But Philadelphia ran out the clock with a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ate up the final 9:22. It was capped by a 4-yard pass from Hurts to A.J. Brown to the Tampa Bay 7 on fourth and 2.
The Bucs defense, which started the game without Carlton Davis, lost another cornerback when Jamel Dean departed with a shoulder injury.
Here’s how it happened:
Finding their footing
Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans finally found some rhythm early in the fourth quarter, connecting on successive plays for 46 yards to move the ball to the Eagles 29.
One play later, Rachaad White burst 12 yards up the middle to pick up Tampa Bay’s first rushing first down of the game.
Three plays later, Mayfield found Chris Godwin for 7 yards and a first down at the 1.
Mayfield overthrew Evans in the left corner of the end zone and White was stopped for no gain, bringing up third and goal.
But Mayfield went back to Evans on a slant pattern, giving the Bucs their first touchdown of the game.
Tampa Bay got back to within 14 points when Mayfield hit Godwin in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion, trimming Philadelphia’s lead to 25-11 with 9:22 remaining.
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D’Andre Swift got loose again late in the third quarter, springing off right guard for 29 yards to the Bucs 41. The run put him over 100 yards for the game (119 on 13 carries).
But the Eagles turned the ball over on the next play as Jalen Hurts threw deep for DeVonta Smith in the end zone and was intercepted by Bucs cornerback Dee Delaney.
Delaney, playing for the injured Jamel Dean, did a tremendous job of keeping both of his feet in bounds before going out at the 1.
The repreive was brief for the Bucs, however, as Rachaad White was tackled in the end zone by linebacker Nicholas Morrow on the following play, resulting in a safety and 22-3 Eagles lead with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles offense was back on the move at the start of the second half, and for one of the few times in the game, they finished.
Jalen Hurts kept the drive alive by scrambling for 4 yards to the Philadelphia 36 on third and 3. Hurts then hit A.J. Brown for 11 yards to the 49, then found Dallas Goedert for 9 yards to the Bucs 42.
D’Andre Swift bolted up the middle for 26 yards to the 16, then went around right end for 9 yards to the 7.
The Eagles went back to Swift, who picked up the first down with a 1-yard run off left guard and then 5 more up the middle to the 1.
Hurts threw high for Brown in the end zone, bringing up third and 1. Philadelphia again tried the push sneak, with Goedert pushing Hurts from behind, but he was stopped short.
Hurts got in on his second attempt, following center Jason Kelce into the end zone to cap a 13-play, 75-yard drive that put the Eagles ahead 20-3 with 9:12 to play in the third quarter.
Baker Mayfield picked an inauspicious time and place to throw his first interception of the season.
With the Bucs trailing 10-3 late in the first half, Mayfield’s pass over the middle for Chris Godwin was picked off by safety Reed Blankenship, giving the Eagles possession at the Tampa Bay 37-yard line.
Runs by Kenneth Gainwell up the middle and Jalen Hurts off the left side netted 9 yards, bringing up third and 1 from the 28.
Hurts kept the ball on a quarterback sneak, with Gainwell pushing him from behind. Officials signaled first down, but the booth called for a replay review, which upheld the call on the field.
Hurts then threw for A.J. Brown deep down the right sideline, but his pass was incomplete. However, on the other side of the field, Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean was called for hands to the face of receiver DeVonta Smith.
It didn’t matter. Inside linebacker Devin White intercepted Hurts’ next pass, thrown behind running back D’Andre Swift, giving Tampa Bay the ball at the Philadelphia 43.
The Bucs didn’t keep it for long.
Mayfield was sacked by Jalen Carter and Fletcher Cox on the next play, resulting in an 11-yard loss to the 32. Mayfield fumbled, but the ball was recovered by center Robert Hainsey.
Tampa Bay put the ball back on the ground one play later, and this time, it didn’t keep possession. Carter punched the ball out of the hands of Rachaad White, and Philadelphia’s James Bradberry recovered at the Bucs 37.
Two plays later, the Eagles faced third and 2 from the 28 with 15 seconds remaining in the half. Hurts ran around right end for 8 yards, picking up a first down, then threw incomplete for A.J. Brown near the goal line.
With 3 seconds remaining, Jake Elliott came on to kick a 38-yard field goal, extending the Eagles lead to 13-3 at halftime.
Olamide Zaccheaus made two of the game’s biggest plays on the same drive.
Three plays after the receiver caught a 24-yard pass from Jalen Hurts, giving the Eagles a first down at the Bucs 35-yard line, he hauled in a 34-yarder, going untouched into the end zone to give Philadelphia a 10-3 lead with 3:32 remaining in the second quarter.
Hurts stayed alive in the pocket, then delivered a perfectly thrown ball to Zaccheaus in stride, just past the hands of a lunging Jamel Dean.
A 4-yard pass to A.J. Brown had set up third and 4 from the Bucs 29, but tight end Dallas Goedert was penalized for a false start, making it third and 9 from the 34 and setting the stage for Hurts’ scoring throw.
Goedert helped to get the drive started, with a 13-yard reception to the Philadelphia 34.
The Bucs converted three third downs — and nearly a fourth — on a second-quarter drive that tied the game.
Rachaad White started the drive by taking a short Baker Mayfield pass 15 yards up the left sideline for a first down at the Bucs 32. Two White runs up the middle netted 7 yards, bringing up third and 3 from the 39.
Mayfield hit Mike Evans on a quick slant, picking up 8 yards and a first down at the 47. A 6-yard completion to White moved Tampa Bay into Philadelphia territory for the first time. Two plays later, the Bucs faced third and 3 from the Eagles 46.
Mayfield hit Chris Godwin over the middle for 18 yards and a first down to the 28.
After a Cade Otton drop and 2-yard run by Sean Tucker, the Bucs faced third and 8 from the 26. Mayfield missed Otton, but cornerback Josh Jobe was called for pass interference, giving the Bucs a first down at the Eagles 16.
Tampa Bay quickly faced third down again, as White was wrapped up by Josh Sweat after a 1-yard gain and Mayfield threw incomplete for Godwin in the end zone.
Mayfield had Evans open at the goal line, but his throw bounced in and out of Evans hands as Sidney Brown dived in front of him.
Chase McLaughlin came on to kick a 33-yard field goal, tying the game 3-3 with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter.
Flipping the field
Britain Covey gave the Eagles outstanding field position on their second possession, returning Jake Camarda’s punt 52 yards to the Bucs 44.
D’Andre Swift quickly picked up 13 more yards on an inside handoff to the 31. After a Swift run and Jalen Hurt pass to tight end Dallas Goedert netted just 4 yards, Philadelphia faced third and 6 from the 26.
Swift cut outside a block from Cam Jurgens and picked up 13 yards and a first down at the 13. Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean was down after the play, seeming to favor his left arm or shoulder.
After tight end Jack Stoll dropped a pass over the middle, Brandon Dickerson was penalized for being illegally downfield, pushing the Eagles back to the 18.
Hurts missed Goedert on a short pass, making it third and 15. Flushed out of the pocket, Hurts threw out of bounds.
The Eagles had to settle for Jake Elliott’s 36-field goal, putting them ahead 3-0 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to exhibit their explosiveness.
After D’Andre Swift picked up 8 yards on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage, Jalen Hurts hit A.J. Brown for 28 yards to the Bucs 39.
Hurts went right back to Brown one play later, good for 16 more yards to the 23. After a short passes to DeVonta Smith and D’Andre Swift netted 7 yards, Philadelphia faced third and 2 from the 15. Hurts threw into the end zone for Olamide Zaccheaus but his pass was broken up by cornerback Zyon McCollum.
The Eagles went for the first down, but Ryan Neal dropped Kenneth Gainwell behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a turnover on downs.
A bit of both
The Bucs have been outstanding on third down this season, and they started the same way on Monday.
Rachaad White ran twice up the middle for a total of 7 yards on the first two plays from scrimmage, bringing up third and 3 from the Bucs 32. Baker Mayfield hit Chris Godwin on a short out route to pick up the first, first down of the game.
They got a second set of downs, but not a third.
Mayfield looked deep on the next play but overthrew an open Deven Thompkins on a deep crossing route. Linebacker Zach Cunningham then stopped White after a 2-yard gain, setting up third and 8 from the 40. Mayfield hit Evans in Eagles territory, but Evans couldn’t hold on, forcing a Bucs punt.
As the third week of the NFL season comes to a close, only four teams remain undefeated.
After tonight, there will be three.
The Bucs could be one of them.
All they have to do is beat the reigning NFC champion Eagles, who played in last season’s Super Bowl.
The Buccaneers also have a chance to do something they couldn’t in three seasons with Tom Brady under center: win their first three regular-season games.
In fact, the last time the Bucs started a season 3-0 was 2005 — when Brian Griese was their quarterback.
Of course, it will be no small task against Jalen Hurts, D’Andre Swift and Philadelphia’s second-ranked rushing offense. It’s also necessary to note that the two teams Tampa Bay has beaten this season— Minnesota (0-3) and Chicago (0-3) — are a combined 0-6.
Still, given that the Bucs have as many victories after two weeks as some oddsmakers and experts expected them to have all season, it’s no small thing.
Here’s a bigger one:
Since the NFL expanded its postseason in 1990, 63.8% of teams that start 2-0 have made the playoffs. That number jumps to 75% when a team wins its first three games. The Bucs, for their part, have never missed the postseason after starting a season 3-0, which they have done three times.
Historically, beating the Eagles has propelled the Bucs to bigger and better things:
• Just two seasons ago, a 31-15 win over Philadelphia moved Tampa Bay into the division round of the playoffs.
• In 1979, a 24-17 victory over the Eagles advanced the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game.
• And, of course, a 27-10 triumph over Philadelphia in the 2002 conference title game put Tampa Bay into its first Super Bowl.
Clearly, the stakes aren’t anywhere near as high tonight. Still, don’t underestimate what this matchup means to this team at this time.
It will show the Bucs how they measure up against one of the toughest opponents on their schedule. It can confirm their belief in themselves and their system. It can prove that there is more to this squad than its former quarterback.
And, most importantly, it will mean all of their goals remain in front of them, however realistic they might seem outside of the organization.
Whatever the outcome, this much is sure: It will further shape expectations, one way or another.
Who’s in/who’s out
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A little light reading
Here’s some of our content leading up to today’s game:
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