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The Eagles and Tom Brady certainly are no strangers. Although the superstar quarterback is playing for the Buccaneers, the looming memory of the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII victory over Brady was hard to ignore heading into this matchup. Philadelphia was looking for its first win at home in 2021 and Tampa Bay looked to extend their record to 5-1 with a banged-up secondary and a quarterback with a bum thumb.
Both teams were without key players in Thursday’s game. The Eagles were missing Lane Johnson and Dallas Goedert, while the Buccaneers played without Lavonte David and Rob Gronkowski.
Despite a valiant effort to get back into the fray late, the Eagles fell to 2-4, and some key issues may cause problems for Philadelphia in 2021.
Pivotal Taunting Call Buried the Eagles
The taunting rule is a twist this year. Still, there have been a full five weeks of play to figure out how not to taunt an opposing player and the repercussions if you do. That didn’t seem to matter in a crucial defensive play for Philadelphia.
The Eagles had come to life in the third quarter and cut the Buccaneers lead to only six points after a rushing touchdown by QB Jalen Hurts and a two-point conversion courtesy of Hurts to WR Quez Watkins.
Tom Brady had 5:54 left to play to put points on the board. The Eagles’ defense had forced a punt and a turnover on downs on the previous two Tampa Bay drives. The defense only had to step up one more time and contain Brady for another shot at the end zone.
On first down with ten to go, defensive end Gerard Avery got into RB Leonard Fournette’s face after pushing him out of bounds. Did Fournette “help” the situation along? Perhaps. But, that is not how it works. The Buccaneers got 15 yards and an automatic first down and Fournette took the game to the promised land for Tampa.
Inability to Capitalize on Porous Buccaneers Secondary
Two touchdowns for the Eagles came on the back of pass interference calls when Hurts targeted WR Jalen Reagor deep. Other than that, the passing game was anemic against a defense that allowed the third-most points to quarterbacks and who lost Richard Sherman in the first quarter.
Hurts finished with only 12 completions on 26 attempts for 115 yards that led to one passing touchdown and one interception. His average target was only 4.4 yards.
Despite the juicy matchup, this game was a severe disappointment for anyone who started WR DeVonta Smith. There are rumblings that are beginning to get louder surrounding Hurts as the starting quarterback. The Eagles have at least two first-round picks and possibly three if the Eagles keep up this pace.
Eagles Rushing Too Little, Too Late
If it feels like I am picking on Philadelphia, I am. Heading into last night’s game, Miles Sanders only rushed an average of 9.6 times for 42.8 yards and scored zero touchdowns so far this season. During the pre-game show, the crowd was chanting “Sirianni, run the ball” referring to head coach Nick’s Sirianni’s allergy to committing to the run.
The crowd noise made perfect sense after the second quarter when Sanders only rushed the ball once for one yard.
We saw a lot more of Sanders in the second half of the game, but that was purely optics. He finished with a paltry nine total attempts for 56 yards.
To make matters worse, there was a weakness the Eagles did not exploit. The Buccaneers have allowed the most receptions to pass-catching running backs through five weeks, the fourth most yards, and were tied for third-worst in passing touchdowns allowed to running backs. RB Kenneth Gainwell was all but obsolete in a matchup that had significant potential.
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Not a Total Loss
This dose has been pessimistic so far, so allow me to add a bit of light on Thursday night’s matchup. Despite the inability to pass, Hurts did score 25 points thanks to his rushing ability. TE Zach Ertz filled in like the Ertz of old in place of Goedert and finished with 12.9 points on four receptions, 29 yards, and a touchdown.
The fantasy winners of the day go to the Buccaneers’ side of the ball with Fournette scoring a whopping 30.7 points and WR Antonio Brown reeling in nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown for 24.3 points. Brady’s thumb didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest.
Quick Hits/Injury Updates/COVID-19
Seahawks RB Chris Carson missed practice again with a neck injury that kept him out of the lineup in Week 5. WR D.K. Metcalf did not practice on Thursday with a foot injury designation. … Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was not at practice with an illness. WR Rashod Bateman will be gradually eased into the offense according to the coaching staff. … Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott was limited at practice. … Browns RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt did not practice with a calf and wrist/knee injury respectively. … Lions RB Jamaal Williams did not practice. QB Jared Goff wants rookie WR Amon-Ra St. Brown more involved in the offense. … Titans WRs A.J. Brown and Julio Jones were both full participants in practice after dealing with hamstring injuries. … Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins did not practice again today with an illness. … Bears RB Damien Williams was placed on the reserve COVID-19 list. … Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey did not participate in practice today and his status for Sunday is now in doubt after trending in the right direction last week. … Giants WR Kadarius Toney was limited at practice. QB Daniel Jones is heading in the right direction in the concussion protocol and was limited in Thursday’s practice. RB Saquon Barkley did not practice. WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both returned to practice. … Miami WR DeVante Parker did travel with the team to London. QB Tua Tagovailoa practiced in full on Wednesday and coaching is expecting him to start against the Jaguars while QB Jacoby Brissett is dealing with a hamstring injury. … Vikings RB Dalvin Cook logged a practice on Thursday after missing last week with an ankle injury. … Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill did not practice again on Thursday with a quad injury. … Washington RB Antonio Gibson practiced on Thursday after disclosing a shin injury he is playing through.