The Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved to 5-1 on the season with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night. It was a win for the Bucs that shouldn’t have been as close as it was, but the now 2-4 Eagles, to their credit, just wouldn’t go away. Thanks to the visiting team there were two major reasons why this game was more competitive than it should have been.
The first reason was probably the costliest. The Bucs committed 7 penalties for a total of 120 yards. Two of the Eagles touchdowns were assisted by pass interference flags.
Losing Richard Sherman on the first series to a hamstring injury was surely a sign for the Eagles to attack the Bucs secondary, which they did. The initial PI in the first quarter on cornerback Jamel Dean was for 45 yards and the second in the third quarter by safety Mike Edwards was for 50 yards. Take away those 14 points and this game really isn’t much of one.
The second reason, and maybe the one most concerning going forward, was the Bucs not being able to throw a knockout punch to a team that was desperately looking to be put away. Tampa Bay had two opportunities to get points up 21-7 with 1:24 left in the second quarter and two timeouts. They ended up running a total of five plays that ended in an interception on the first drive and a short pass for a loss that ended the half.
This unsettling Buccaneers trait continued in the second half. It was magnified on a 4th and 3 just past midfield with a little over 9 minutes left in the game that Tampa Bay couldn’t convert. Brady missed a throw to tight end O.J. Howard and likely the chance to end the game right there.
The Bucs’ failed 4th down then provided the Eagles with a short field and momentum which they used to drive down the field and score a touchdown and 2 point conversion. The lead was suddenly reduced to 6 points when the game could have and should have been over with better execution.
The Buccaneers looked like they had found their killer instinct in last Sunday’s throttling of the Miami Dolphins. Whether it was being on the road or playing on a short week, they seemed to not be able to summon that ability to put their opponent away on Thursday Night.
Luckily, the Bucs did win and now get to rest up before hosting the Chicago Bears next Sunday. Maybe between now and then the team can get some of their injured players back as well. That would go a long way to limiting the dangerous combination of committing costly penalties and playing down to inferior competition that have plagued Tampa Bay so far this season.
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