Wed. Jun 12th, 2024
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Bucs
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Besides the games, one of the best (or worst) parts of football seasons are the mornings after gameday.

Any football fan will tell you, whether it’s at school, work, or on your favorite sports talk show— Monday mornings are for bragging rights, armchair quarterbacks, and “Did you see when?!” This week, it’ll be Tuesday morning, where Tampa Bay Bucs’ fans give all their friends, neighbors, and colleagues a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game and they’re going to start with the—

First quarter-

The Bucs’ offense took the field first and looked fantastic, until the red zone. Tampa marched down the field led by Mike Evans and Rachaad White. Baker Mayfield looked poised and Philadelphia struggled stopping the Bucs’ run game and relinquished an opening drive field goal.

Much was made of Jalen Hurts’ injured finger, coming into the game. Naturally, the Eagles started off with back to back running plays and picked up a first down, but the drive would stall out with a punt. More Bucs’ offense simply meant more Baker Mayfield. Tampa’s quarterback connected on a strike down the middle of the field to David Moore. The play was merely foreshadowing, two plays later Mayfield fired another ball for Moore and got to watch as his receiver did the rest. Moore finished the drive with 66 yards and a touchdown. 10-0, Bucs.

One Eagles’ punt later and Tampa’s offense was off and running again, pushing down into Philadelphia territory.

Second quarter-

Starting the second quarter with the ball and all of the momentum, the Bucs capped their drive off with three more points. 13-0, Bucs.

Philadelphia’s next drive was easily their best thus far. DeVonta Smith tried to do his best David Moore impersonation, catching a short pass from Jalen Hurts and bursting up the field. Smith was ultimately caught from behind by a Zyon McCollum, a tackle that could have saved the Bucs four points because the Eagles were only able to convert Smith’s big play into three points. Philadelphia’s three was quickly matched by Tampa— 16-3, Bucs lead.

Tampa’s lead shrunk to seven, following another big play from DeVonta Smith. Hurts launched a deep ball to Smith who was tackled down inside the Bucs’ five yard line— Hurts threw a touchdown on the next play. An offsides penalty on the ensuing extra point actually led Philadelphia’s offense to a two-point conversion attempt. To the visible shock of Nick Sirianni and Eagles’ fans everywhere, the Bucs were able to stop Philadelphia’s patented “Tush push” and hold Hurts out of the end zone.

With under two minutes left in the first half, Tampa Bay was forced into their first punt of the game. Jake Camarda pinned Philadelphia deep and the half would end there.

**Halftime notes**

Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Bucs
Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

—Early in this game, Todd Bowles has continued to rely on pressure as his main formula for shutting down the Eagles’ offense. When the Bucs have brought the blitz, they have gotten to Hurts. When the Bucs have played coverage, they have not been able to generate consistent pressure. The second half may be determined by the Eagles’ offense ability to make adjustments to Todd Bowles’ pressure package. If Philadelphia is able to make effective adjustments, Bowles and the Bucs may struggle because they are living and dying by the blitz.

—In a surprising headline, Mike Evans is not playing well. Evans has just one catch for 21 yards and it is not due to lack of targets. Evans has had at least one if not two touchdowns in his hands. Drops are killing the Bucs, in general. Baker Mayfield is 11/24 for 174 and touchdown. He is, however, playing better than his stats would indicate.

Third quarter-

The Eagles began the second half with the ball and Lavonte David began it with a tackle. Two plays later the Bucs special teams unit took the field for a punt return.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Bucs
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

One Bucs’ punt later and the Jalen Hurts’ offense trotted back on the field. A pass interference penalty on Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, gave the Eagles their first third down conversion of the game. On their next third down, they continued to fail to convert. The Bucs responded with a punt of their own, which turned into their best offense of the half. Anthony Nelson put his stamp on the game in a major way, wrapping up Jalen Hurts, forcing a throw away in the end zone for a safety. Just as they did in the first quarter, the points came in bunches. As the third quarter reached its conclusion, Tampa Bay reached the end zone. Trey Palmer exploded for 56 yards and his first career postseason score. 25-9, Tampa Bay.

Fourth quarter-

Philadelphia, feeling the pressure of a season slipping away, began quarter number four with an elevated sense of duty. Their offense, largely lethargic, save for a few DeVonta Smith flashes generated some movement. In an unpredictable prop bet-esque scenario Zyon McCollum was flagged for his second offsides penalty of the game. Both Times, the Eagles decided it would be best to take points off the board. In both instances the decision proved to be greedy and unfruitful. McCollum’s second offsides gave the Eagles a fourth down and five, which the Eagles failed to convert.

Tampa Bay has done a good job executing four-minute drills throughout the regular season. Why should the postseason be any different? The Bucs got the ball and needed to control the clock, the team did one better—

A well deserved touchdown for a fan favorite receiver, who has had to endure this season.
The Bucs have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles and have found themselves in the wonderful position of playing with house money. Tampa Bay was projected as a four or five win team, before the start of the season. The Bucs were also the same team that was 4-7 before finishing the year 9-8. Any expectations or preconceived notions about the 2023 Tampa Bay Bucs have been exceeded and/or invalidated. The underdog, discredited Tampa Bay Bucs will advance to Detroit for another regular season rematch.

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By admin