Fitzpatrick Throws 4 TDs As Bucs Hold Off Eagles 27-21

posted by Pat Donovan - 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t want to waste any time against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, so Todd Monken went to the play action pass on the first play of the game, and Ryan Fitzpatrick found Desean Jackson streaking down field, and after a great move to lose an Eagles defender, Jackson was gone for a 75-yard touchdown just 11 seconds into the game.

After the teams exchanged punts, the Eagles got the ball moving for the first time as Nick Foles found Tampa native Nelson Agholor for a first down, and tailback Corey Clement for another on a screen. However, after a flurry of Philadelphia penalties, the Eagles were staring at a 3rd-and-41, and would be punting the ball back to Tampa with just over six minutes to play in the first quarter with the score remaining 7-0.

The Eagles next drive was cut short as well as Kwon Alexander took the ball away on a sack fumble that looked like an incomplete pass. The Bucs possession wouldn’t last long however, because after Fitzpatrick found O.J. Howard over the middle for what should have been big yardage, the Bucs second-year tight end fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Eagles corner Ronald Darby. The play was called an interception, but it was a fumble by Howard. The first quarter would come to an end just moments later with the Bucs still ahead 7-0.

The Eagles finally got an offensive drive going late in the half, and found themselves with a 1st-and-10 at the Buccaneers 15-yard-line after converting a 4th-and-1 with a quarterback sneak from Foles. A player later, Clement would carry the ball off the left side for the 15-yard touchdown to tie the game with just under five minutes to play in the first half.

The Buccaneers quick strike offense would strike again on the following drive as Howard took a pass from Fitzpatrick and rumbled 75 for the touchdown after picking up a big block downfield from Chris Godwin, and the Bucs would go up 13-7 after Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra point.

After a quick possession for the Eagles, the Bucs offense came onto the field and again got the offense rolling. Less than two minutes later, Fitzpatrick was finding Godwin in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass that put the Bucs ahead 20-7 with 42 seconds remaining in the half.

The Eagles wouldn’t play it safe before the half though, and ended up pushing the ball into field goal position, but Eagles kicker Jake Elliot plunked the kick off the right upright, and the game would go into the half with the Bucs still ahead 20-7.

The Eagles remained aggressive to start the second half, but the Bucs defense came up with a huge play on a 4th-and-4 around midfield, giving the ball back to the offense with great field position and an opportunity to stretch their 13-point lead.

The offense would take advantage of the field position, and with just under 10 minutes to play in the third, Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback in Bucs history to throw for four touchdowns in consecutive weeks when he found Mike Evans for a touchdown to put the Bucs ahead 27-7.

The Eagles weren’t finished though, as they took the last drive of the third quarter all the way down field on the back of a big play from Nelson Agholor before Jay Ajayi scored from two yards out to cap off an 84-yard drive to pull the Eagles to within 13 points at 27-14 with nine seconds remaining in the third.

Just when it looked like the Bucs were going to drive deep into Eagles territory to put some key insurance points on the board, Evans caught a pass and fumbled it. Jordan Hicks would pick the ball up for the Eagles and return it to the Philadelphia 43-yard line, setting up the offense with great field position, down 13 with 12:30 remaining.

The Eagles once again moved the ball into Buccaneer’s territory, but were eventually faced with a 4th-and-10 at the Bucs 35-yard-line, and the Bucs held on for the stop, and took over on downs with 8:43 remaining and still up 27-14.

It wouldn’t be long though, before the Eagles were once again making things interesting, and once again in Bucs territory with a chance to cut the lead to a single score. As the clock rolled under four and a half minutes to play, the Eagles were looking at a 1st-and-goal at the 8-yard-line. The Bucs defense wasn’t about to make it easy for Philadelphia, and as the clock rolled under three minutes, the Eagles were facing 4th-and-goal at the 2-yard-line when Foles found Agholor in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to cut the Bucs lead to six, with the score 27-21 with 2:46 remaining.

The Eagles decided to trust their defense and kick the ball deep to the Buccaneers, forcing the Bucs offense to come up with a couple of big plays to end the football game. The first of those plays would come after Peyton Barber lost four yards on first down. Fitzpatrick found Jackson on the next play for a first down and more to push the ball outside of the Bucs 30. A couple plays later, the Bucs were facing a crucial 3rd-and-3 at their own 36-yard-line when Evans caught a Fitzpatrick pass for a first down, and after declining a defensive holding call on the play, the Bucs had essentially done enough to run out the clock, and complete their second huge upset in as many weeks, defeating the defending Super Bowl champs 27-21. The Bucs did have to punt the ball to Philly with about 30 seconds left, but there were no "Philly Specials," or miracles on this day! 

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