The Eagles evened their record at 3-3 with a 31-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the second straight week, the Eagles went on the road to face a winless opponent, and for the second straight week, the game was close heading into the fourth quarter. But just like they did against the Giants, Nick Foles and the Eagles offense made some big plays late in the game to lead the team to victory.
A few observations:
- It may be way too premature to make this type of declaration, but Nick Foles has looked like a starting quality NFL quarterback. He’s made some clutch throws, and more importantly, he seems to trust that his receivers are going to get to where they need to go and then make the catch. That might explain why the team has performed so much better in the red zone with him under center.
- Riley Cooper finally showed up. After recently being named the NFL’s least productive starting wide receiver, he finally delivered the type of performance that the Eagles had hoped for. That was a great effort on his touchdown catch as he outfought the defender for the ball. (Skeptics might say that he got away with a push off) Now I’m just waiting for the conspiracy theorists to say that it seems suspicious that as soon as Foles became the quarterback, all of a sudden Cooper became more involved with the offense.
- The Eagles obviously thought that the Bucs could be exploited by screen passes. LeSean McCoy busted out with a long screen pass to start the game, and the Eagles were successful with them throughout.
- It wasn’t the greatest day for the Eagles’ offensive line. There were a few Bucs defenders who managed to get into the Eagles backfield seemingly untouched.
- When the Eagles had a 4th and 1 inside Bucs territory, I said that they needed to kick the field goal and make it a two score game. One of my friends vehemently disagreed. When I saw the offense line up as if to go for it, I predicted they wouldn’t actually snap the ball but rather use a hard count to try to get the Bucs to jump offsides. I enjoy it when I am correct.
- When Colt Anderson nicely downed a punt at the two yard line, I said that was the type of play that wins football games. Little did I know that the Bucs would unfurl an 88 yard drive that at the time seemed like a turning point in the game. Third down continued to be a problem for the Eagles defense as they gave up a disturbingly high number of conversions.
- Until the fourth quarter, the defense gave Bucs QB Mike Glennon way too much time in the pocket. Considering Glennon is an immobile rookie quarterback, he seemed to have no problem sidestepping what little pressure the Eagles applied and finding an open receiver. When the Eagles actually got someone in his face, Glennon rushed throws, but that didn’t happen nearly enough.
- On the other hand, the defense did an admirable job on first and second downs. Bucs running back Doug Martin was mostly stymied.
- Brandon Boykin dropped a potential game-sealing interception in the 4th quarter. Obviously it didn’t end up costing them, but the defense needs to make those plays to put the game away.
When the Eagles scored a touchdown to make it 27-20, I argued that they should have gone for the two-point conversion. By kicking the extra point, they left it open for the Bucs to tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion. If the Eagles went for two and missed, the cost would have been minimal, as the Bucs would have almost assuredly just kicked the extra point had they scored. But if the Eagles successfully earned the two points, it would have then been a two possession game.
Most people watching with me disagreed. What do you think?
It wasn’t a beautiful game, and the Eagles probably made it tougher on themselves than they had to. But there’s no such thing as a bad road win in the NFL, so they should be happy with the result. Now, the Eagles will be carrying a two-game winning streak into next week’s big game against the Cowboys. Whoever wins that one will be in the driver’s seat in what looks to be a wide-open NFC East.