The Philadelphia Eagles won again on Oct. 13 to go to 3-3. In fact, the Eagles beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 31-20, in almost the same way they beat the New York Giants on Oct. 6. This may be a good thing in some ways, but since Philadelphia had to pull away late against another winless team, there is still cause for concern.
The Eagles jumped out on the Buccaneers early with an opening drive touchdown, but Tampa Bay soon settled down. The Buccaneers even took a 17-14 lead into halftime, which is more than what the Giants did when they trailed by 19-7 at the half to the Eagles. New York made its run to come back in the third quarter, and for a time, it looked to be Tampa Bay’s turning point as well.
Although the Eagles took a 21-17 lead in the third, the Buccaneers closed the quarter with a drive starting from their own 1-yard line. They converted third down after third down to get to the red zone, where a touchdown would have given them the lead and all the momentum. Instead, the Eagles finally made a third down stand on third-and-goal, clinging to a one-point lead as a result.
When the Giants took the lead in the second half last week, the Eagles’ defense saved the day with three interceptions and a big Foles touchdown to Brent Celek. Philadelphia didn’t have as many late interceptions in Tampa Bay, yet Foles still had the big throws, as a 44-yard completion to Riley Cooper set up a 36-yard DeSean Jackson touchdown.
With that backbreaker, the Buccaneers couldn’t rise again and were doomed to another defeat. Given their winless record and the Eagles’ statistical dominance, it shouldn’t have taken so long to put the Buccaneers away, just like it shouldn’t have with the Giants. One break or two separated the Eagles from a humiliating, season-killing loss in both games, as they looked like the winless team in a few stretches.
Philadelphia saved its season by facing two poor opponents at the right time. Now that the Eagles have gone from 1-3 to a first place 3-3, will these growing pains result in wins against .500 or better teams down the road -- like the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 20? Or are they only good enough to merely survive the cellar dwellers of the NFL?