Week 7 Game Recap: Philadelphia Eagles 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23
What you need to know
The Eagles arrived in Tampa only to find two opponents – the Buccaneers and the oppressive heat. The game temperature was approaching the 90s, but on field thermometers routinely registered over 100 degrees.
QB Donovan McNabb had a poor start, throwing two first half interceptions, one to DB Ronde Barber that was returned for a Tampa Bay touchdown. McNabb made a poor decision before the half that cost the Eagles points, then a third interception by Barber for a second touchdown put McNabb in a 17-0 hole. McNabb rallied and was able to pass and scramble enough to throw three touchdown passes despite getting ill due to the heat.
RB Brian Westbrook was able to start despite concerns about his knee, and he posted over 100 yards rushing and 100 more receiving on just 20 touches for the game. Westbrook made five Buccaneers’ defenders miss in the final minute to score what the Eagles thought would be a winning touchdown.
WR Donte Stallworth was unable to play once again due to a lingering hamstring injury, so WR Reggie Brown was again the #1 receiver target. Brown did not disappoint, catching four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. TE LJ Smith also contributed 38 yards receiving in the first half.
DB Ronde Barber led the team in scoring, which is remarkable considering he plays on defense. Barber caught two interceptions by jumping pass patterns and returned both for touchdowns, scoring both Tampa Bay touchdowns against the Eagles.
RB Cadillac Williams rushed for 82 yards on 23 carries rather unspectacularly, yet it is noteworthy that Tampa Bay is 8-0 whenever Williams has 20+ carries in the game.
QB Bruce Gradkowski did very little to help his team, completing just 13 passes for 104 yards. He did not turn the ball over, but by his inability to sustain drives it was left to the defense to furnish most of the scoring. WR Joey Galloway was targeted six times, the most of any Buccaneer, but was unable to catch a single one. WR Michael Clayton led Tampa Bay in both catches (three) and receiving yards (30).
The hero of the day aside from Barber was PK Matt Bryant, another unlikely choice. After not connecting on a single field goal beyond 28 yards this season, Bryant hit from 30, then 44, then finally a 62 yard field goal to win the game on the final play. The kick was the third longest in the history of the NFL.
What you ought to know
|QB Donovan McNabb, Pass: 22 - 35 - 302 - 3 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 6 - 76 - 0|
McNabb struggled throughout the first half, completing just over half of his passes (11 of 20) for 153 yards but two costly interceptions. He tried to hit WR Reggie Brown on an out pattern but DB Juran Bolden jumped the route and intercepted it in the first quarter. DB Ronde Barber also jumped a route on Hank Baskett, who wasn’t even his receiver, and returned his first pick of the day for a 37 yard touchdown. Barber did the same exact thing in the third quarter, stepping in front of a pass intended for WR Greg Lewis and scoring his second touchdown, this time from 66 yards away. This third interception of the game for McNabb was more than he had thrown in the first six games combined.
Just before the half, McNabb made an ill-advised decision by throwing short of the end zone with no timeouts just before halftime. The Eagles were poised to get points just before intermission with the ball at the Tampa Bay six, but by passing shy of the end zone the clock expired before PK David Akers could come out and try the field goal.
McNabb picked himself up despite the 17-0 deficit in the third quarter and led his Eagles on the comeback trail. He started scrambling like the McNabb of old, running for 52 yards and spearheading three touchdown drives in the final 21 minutes of the contest. McNabb completed 9 of 12 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns after the third interception.
Despite succumbing to the oppressively high temperatures (he had to call timeout after throwing up at the line of scrimmage), McNabb gave the Eagles a shot to come back in the game.
Westbrook was able to start and produced extremely well despite having troubles practicing all week yet again with a bothersome knee injury. He had 20 touches on the day, highlighted by a crucial 52 yard catch and run for a touchdown late in the game that put the Eagles up 21-20 with under a minute left in the game.
Westbrook broke a number of carries for over ten yards, snapping off three carries over ten yards in the fourth quarter to compliment his long run of 23 yards in the second period. He quietly had over 100 yards despite rushing just 13 times.
Westbrook was also the most targeted receiver, getting at least two looks in each quarter and a total of 11 for the game. His seven catches for 113 yards also led all receivers in both categories.
Buckhalter helped the Philadelphia running game, carrying the ball at least once in every quarter. He had a long of 13 yards, but all six of his carries went for four yards or fewer. He gained just one first down, coming on his longest run.
Tapeh was used solely as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught two passes in the third quarter, the second going for a nice 12 yard score on a nice run up the sideline.
Brown was the focal point at wide receiver, again stepping up as the #1 receiver with Donte Stallworth out once again with a hamstring injury. Brown was not the most targeted receiver (RB Brian Westbrook was), but he did deliver on his six targets. He converted four of them for 77 yards, including a long 41 yard catch and run in the first quarter. Brown added three more catches after halftime, including a 20 yard catch in the third and a seven yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
Avant caught a short pass of nine yards on the first drive of the game for the Eagles, but in an effort to get a first down he fumbled the ball and lost possession to Tampa Bay. He then seemed to disappear, re-emerging in the fourth quarter to catch his only other target for 12 yards and a first down.
Baskett was the second wide receiver for the Eagles. Baskett had a 13 yard catch in the first quarter and another of 17 yards in the third, both giving Philadelphia a fresh set of downs. His third target was sandwiched between them in the second quarter where he was the intend receiver of a pass that was intercepted by DB Ronde Barber who anticipated the route and scored on the turnover.
Lewis was the intended receiver of a ten yard down and out pass in the third period, but DB Ronde Barber jumped in front of him and intercepted the pass, returning it 66 yards for a touchdown.
Smith was involved early in the game for the Eagles, catching a 12 yard pass for a first down in the opening quarter. After not being able to reach a high target and then another at his feet on an intended screen, Smith caught the next three targets before halftime for a combined 26 yards including a long of 14 yards. His final catch was the last play before the half and Smith was stopped short of the goal line at the Tampa Bay two yard line as time expired for the first half.
Smith was oddly not targeted at all after halftime.
Schobel dropped two of his three targets, two easy passes that hit him in the hands in the first and third quarters. He was able to snare an eight yard catch in the second quarter.
Akers was only able to kick three extra points despite Philadelphia stalling ending a drive inside the Tampa Bay five yard line before the half. Poor clock management cost the Eagles a chance at points before halftime.
RB Cadillac Williams gained 82 yards on 23 carries, less than four yards a carry. The Eagles kept the running game in check and kept Williams out of the end zone with only two runs over ten yards and just six team rushing first downs.
The Eagles sacked QB Bruce Gradkowski twice but failed to force any turnovers. They were able to hold Tampa Bay to just 104 yards passing, containing WR Joey Galloway to no receptions.
Gradkowski was very unimpressive all game, completing only half of his passes for just over 100 yards. He was unable to move the ball with any consistency, as the only two scoring drives from the offense resulted in just field goals. Gradkowski only completed two passes on a drive twice and three just once. On his best drive, he completed three passes for 46 total yards, but the drive stalled at the Philadelphia 35 yard line. His contributions were minimal towards the victory, aside from possibly avoiding any turnovers. He did add nine yards rushing; include a nine yard scramble on the final drive that set up PK Matt Bryant’s 62 yard field goal.
Williams took a while to get going, rushing for just 20 yards on ten carries in the first half. He came out of the locker room and helped the Bucs drive down the field for a field goal on their first drive of the game, rushing seven times for 39 yards and chewing up over eight minutes of the third quarter. Williams added 17-59 six more carries in the final period for an additional 23 yards to help Tampa to the victory. He also caught two short passes in the second half for a combined 11 yards.
Pittman spelled Cadillac Williams throughout the game, rushing once in each of the first three quarters and adding two catches on four targets. Pittman also lost a short three yard catch due to a penalty on the play.
Alstott caught two passes for no gain each in the second and third quarters. Those two passes were his only targets and touches for the game.
Clayton caught three balls for 30 yards, leading Tampa Bay in both categories. After a pass intended for him was batted away at the line, he added a five yard catch in the second quarter. Clayton added a five yard and a 14 yard catch in the second quarter, the second good enough for a first down. After adding an 11 yard catch in the fourth period for another first down, he was targeted one last time on an uncatchable pass. He also added a four yard end around in the final period of the contest.
Hilliard was targeted twice in the fourth quarter, coming up with a case of “alligator arms” on his first target as he let the short pass fall incomplete with the Eagles defense closing in on him. He was able to catch the second pass for seven yards and a first down later in the game.
Warren caught his first career pass for 26 yards on a deep pass in the second quarter. Warren came back to the ball and leaped to bring it in, falling to the ground after the reception.
Galloway was conspicuous by his absence on the stat sheet, but it was not for lack of an effort. Galloway was targeted five times, the most of any Buccaneer. The first pass in his direction was a short pass that was too short for him to catch, and the second was not close due to his route now being what QB Bruce Gradkowski expected him to run. He had three more targets that were deep balls that were not catchable, and the lone other pass was deflected by the defensive line.
Becht was targeted twice in the second half, catching the first for just one yard. The second was uncatchable as QB Bruce Gradkowski was under pressure as he threw.
Smith caught one pass for six yards in the second quarter. It was his only target for the game.
After failing to make any field goals beyond 28 yards this season, Bryant showed amazing leg strength and accuracy in Week 7. Bryant kicked two extra points on either side of his longest field goal of the season to that point, a kick of 30 yards. He topped that with another 44 yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but no one would have predicted his final kick. Bryant won the game with an incredible 62 yard field goal with no time left in the game to put Tampa Bay up for good, 23-21.
Tampa gave up over 100 yards rushing to RB Brian Westbrook and another 76 yards to QB Donovan McNabb. The Eagles did not score on the ground, but their 208 team yards and nine first downs helped Philadelphia to move down the field on multiple drives.
The Eagles were able to move the ball to the tune of over 300 yards, but the difference was in the turnovers. DB Ronde Barber intercepted two passes and scored on each, giving Tampa Bay an early lead and building it to 17-0 in the third quarter. The three turnovers (DB Juan Bolden had the third) were crucial as it kept the Eagles from converting all those yards to early points.