After their first three drives on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Philadelphia Eagles hadn’t moved the ball forward an inch against Tampa Bay’s defense. In fact, they had gone in the other direction, losing a total of six yards on 10 plays on that trio of drives.
Fortunately for the Eagles and rookie QB Nick Foles, and unfortunately for the Buccaneers, their last two drives proved to be much more important than the first three. Foles led Philly on TD marches of 72 and 54 yards in the game’s final five minutes to pull out a 23-21 victory on the very last play.
Meanwhile the Buccaneers, who have outscored their opponents by 46 points this season and haven’t lost a game by more than eight points yet, are 6-7 and hanging on to a playoff thread because they’ve had more than their share of end-game disappointments. Sunday’s game marked the third time this year that the Buccaneers have lost on an opposing score in the game’s final 30 seconds.
Given how dominant they were on defense for a good portion of the game, the Buccaneers obviously didn’t expect anything but that they would get the stop they needed at the end of Sunday’s contest.
“I can’t put my finger on anything specific [that caused the loss],” said LB Lavonte David. “Guys were just trying to finish. Guys were playing hard and some plays we just didn’t come up with. We had been playing great and we just had to keep it up. Unfortunately we didn’t.”
Foles had the football in his hands for 21 plays on those two drives, and he converted three third downs and two fourth downs to keep them alive. Clearly, there is no one specific play to pin the loss on, and any number of very small differences in outcome would have kept the Bucs on the winning side. However, CB Danny Gorrer got some attention after the game because a potential interception slipped through his grasp in the closing seconds. Gorrer made a very good play to cut in front his man at the goal line, and his pass break-up did force the Eagles into a desperation fourth down with 16 seconds left. Moving forward, Gorrer would like to finish that play, just as the Bucs know they have to become more proficient at finishing games on defense.
“When I saw the ball, I kind of got excited and whatnot, but the great corners in this game make those plays,” he said. “If I want to be a leader and take my game to another level, I have to make that play.”
The bottom line, echoed by many in the Bucs’ locker room back at One Buccaneer Place on Monday, is that the Bucs just didn’t fully take advantage of the game’s opportunities, and the Eagle did.
“We’ve just got to make more plays than them,” said DE Da’Quan Bowers. “It’s man-on-man, one man against another man. Whoever wants it the most is usually the guy that wins it. We didn’t play up to our expectations and they made a few more plays than we did. We weren’t able to capitalize on some things that they did make some plays on.”