PHILADELPHIA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used a thunderous start to take a commanding lead over the hosting Philadelphia Eagles and then cooled off midway through the second quarter and never managed to fully ramp back up. However, the defending Super Bowl champs managed to remain a step ahead of the hosting Eagles and won 28-22 Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to record his league-leading 16th and 17 of the season. Leonard Fournette rushed for another two touchdowns. The Eagles managed a late charge that saw quarterback Jalen Hurts rush for two touchdowns and cut the Buccaneers’ advantage to six. But the Buccaneers responded with a methodical drive that milked the remaining 3:54 off the clock and put the game away.
Tampa Bay improved to 5-1 to tie their franchise record for the best start to a season. Philadelphia dropped to 2-4.
Brady opened the game by completing 11 of 12 first-quarter passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns (to tight end O.J. Howard and wide receiver Antonio Brown). With tight end Rob Gronkowski missing another game with injury, Brady spread the ball around to six different targets as Tampa Bay led 14-7 after one quarter. Fournette’s first touchdown of the night expanded the lead to 21-7 with 1:56 left in the first half.
NFL WEEK 6 PICKS: Do Browns hand Cardinals first loss of 2021 season?
NFL NEWSLETTER: Sign up now to get football news delivered to your inbox
Fournette turned in one of his most well-rounded performances of the season, rushing for 81 yards on 22 carries while adding 46 receiving yards on six catches.
The fifth-year veteran, who signed with Tampa Bay last season after things soured in Jacksonville, appears much more comfortable in the system this season.
Last year, he recorded 367 rushing yards and six touchdowns and 233 receiving yards. And through six games this season, Fournette has 251 rushing yards and 167 receiving yards.
Philadelphia struggled to get their offense going for much of the night, converting only three of 10 third downs for first downs. Hurts provided the few highlights with his two rushing touchdowns and a touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Buccaneers defeat Eagles behind Leonard Fournette, Tom Brady