For the third season in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get an early-season test at home against the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Philadelphia Eagles come to town this weekend for the Buccaneers' 2018 home opener, creating a matchup of 1-0 teams looking to get out to an early lead in their divisions. As much as the Buccaneers are eager to play in front of their home crowd, they might actually prefer to stage this particular game in Philly. The fact of the matter is, most of the Buccaneers' best moments against the Eagles have come on the road.
(The Buccaneers also played New England in Week Five last year and Denver in Week Four in 2016, both of which were coming off Super Bowl victories.)
There's the 2002 NFC Championship Game, of course, but the 2003 Monday Night Football season opener was a particularly satisfying win, as well. The Buccaneers were there in Philadelphia in 1999 when Donovan McNabb made his NFL debut, and they didn't exactly treat him well. Tampa Bay started its 1995 campaign by sacking Randall Cunningham five times and winning handily at Philadelphia; that was Warren Sapp's NFL debut and he had one of those five sacks. Even the most recent meeting between the two teams, at Lincoln Financial Field in 2015, was notable: Until this past Sunday, the Bucs' 45-17 win over the Eagles was their highest-scoring road game ever.
As you can see, it's going to be tough to narrow it down to three highlighted games below, and that's not even including two home-game highlights, the 1979 NFC Championship Game and the 2006 contest that Matt Bryant won with a 62-yard field goal.
All of that said, the Eagles do still hold a slight edge in the series, though the Buccaneers have a chance to edge up near .500 this weekend. The Bucs-Eagles series isn't all that extensive, with only 14 regular-season meetings, but Tampa Bay has faced Philadelphia in the postseason more than any other team. Here's the series scoreboard (regular season only):
Tampa Bay: 6
View some of the best photos of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Week 1 game vs. the Saints.
1. Tampa Bay 27, Philadelphia 10, January 19, 2003 (2002 NFC Championship Game)
The only possible choice for the top spot on this list, as only the ensuing Super Bowl victory can challenge this one for the greatest game in franchise history. The Buccaneers had seen their playoff dreams die at Veterans Stadium each of the previous two winters and had even lost in their personal house of horrors earlier in that '02 campaign. But the Bucs showed up ready to battle and overcome a long game-opening kickoff and a Philly touchdown just a minute into the game. Joe Jurevicius's unforgettable 71-yard catch-and-run began the turnaround, and the Bucs stymied McNabb for most of the night with two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception off the prolific quarterback. Down 10-0, the Eagles mounted a late rally behind McNabb's improvisational big plays and were closing in on the end zone with five minutes left. That's when Ronde Barber made perhaps the single greatest play in team annals, intercepting a short pass and returning it 92 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
2. Tampa Bay 24, Philadelphia 17, January 29, 1979
This was the first playoff game, and first playoff win, in franchise history. After enduring the historic struggles of their first two seasons, the Buccaneers made another kind of history by reaching the playoffs in just their fourth year of existence. The Bucs won the NFC Central and got a home game to start the playoffs against the Eagles. Tampa Bay's top-ranked defense, led by Lee Roy Selmon and his two sacks of Ron Jaworski, allowed only 227 yards of offense, while the Bucs offense simply handed off to Ricky Bell over and over. Bell ran 38 times for 142 yards and a touchdown, and Doug Williams gave the Bucs a much-needed insurance score in the fourth with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie Giles.
3. Tampa Bay 17, Philadelphia 0, September 8, 2003
The Buccaneers were defending Super Bowl champs and, as was custom at the time, that meant they would be featured on Monday Night Football to start the season. What was not customary was to send the champs on the road in Week One, but a rematch of the NFC Championship Game and the regular-season debut of Lincoln Financial Field was too much for the league to pass up. The Buccaneers duplicated their 17-point victory from the previous January but in this case pitched a shutout. Donovan McNabb was picked off once, sacked three times and threw for just 148 yards. Meanwhile, Jurevicius put on a clinic for the Bucs' offense, catching two touchdown passes, both of the very acrobatic variety.
1. Philadelphia 21, Tampa Bay 3, December 31, 2000
This was right at the beginning of a remarkable five-year run for the Eagles, who had a young McNabb at quarterback and a ferocious defense led by Hugh Douglas and Troy Vincent. The Buccaneers had to go to Philadelphia after losing an overtime game at Green Bay in Week 17; a win would have bought them a division title and a first-round bye. The punishment for Tampa Bay was severe, as they could get nothing going (199 yards of offense) on a bitterly-cold and very windy Philly evening. The Bucs scored first on a Martin Gramatica field goal in the second quarter but McNabb threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and Philadelphia ran away with it.
2. Philadelphia 31, Tampa Bay 9, January 12, 2002
The Eagles lost in the divisional round in 2000 but in 2001 began a run of four straight trips to the NFC Championship Game (only the last one ending in a trip to the Super Bowl). It started with another Wild Card win over the Bucs at Veterans Stadium, this one even more lopsided. Once again, the Bucs scored first on a Gramatica field goal, set up by a Dexter Jackson interception, but the Eagles were up 17-9 at halftime and they dominated the second half. McNabb again threw two touchdown passes and the Eagles capped the rout on Damon Moore's 59-yard pick six in the fourth quarter.
3. Philadelphia 23, Tampa Bay 21, December 9, 2012
Quarterback Nick Foles, who is expected to start against the Buccaneers on Sunday, had a remarkable 2012 season, throwing 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions and finishing with a 119.2 passer rating. This game was one of his triumphs, as he completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Even so, the Buccaneers were winning, 21-10, after Doug Martin scored on a four-yard run with seven and a half minutes left in the game. Foles then directed a 72-yard drive ending in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor, and the Philly defense quickly got the ball back for the offense with 2:44 to play. The ensuing drive lasted 13 plays, used every last second remaining on the clock, benefited from two defensive penalties and included a pair of fourth-down conversions. After a 22-yard pass to Jason Avant on fourth-and-five, Foles hustled the Eagles to the line and spiked the ball at the Bucs' one-yard line with two seconds left. The last play of the game was a touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin that was reviewed and upheld.
Bucs' Top Performers Against Eagles:
Among players currently on the roster, here are a few Buccaneers who have fared well against the Eagles.
· DE Jason Pierre-Paul…14 games played, 5.5 sacks, 53 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, 8 passes defensed
· WR DeSean Jackson...5 games played, 20 receptions for 440 yards and 2 touchdowns, 22.0 yards per catch
· DT Gerald McCoy...3 games played, 3.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 6 quarterback hits, 11 tackles
Eagles' Top Performers Against Bucs:
· QB Nick Foles…2 games played, 2-0 record, 54-of-82 passing (65.9%), 677 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 111.7 passer rating
· RB Darren Sproles…8 games played, 33 carries for 156 yards (4.7 avg.), 36 receptions for 306 yards and five touchdowns
· DE Chris Long…4 games played, 3.0 sacks
Bucs-Eagles Regular-Season Game-by-Game Record:
Bucs-Eagles Postseason Game-by-Game Record:
* - NFC Divisional Playoff Game
** - NFC Wild Card Playoff Game
*** - NFC Championship Game
Series Notes (Regular Season Only):
· Overall Season Series: Philadelphia leads, 8-6
· Bucs' Home Record: 2-4
· Bucs' Road Record: 4-4
· Current Streak: Win 1 (2015)
· Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 3 (1991-1999)
· Eagles' Longest Winning Streak: 3 (1977-88, 2000-02)
· Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 244, Eagles 260
· Most Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Buccaneers 45-17 (2015)
· Most Points in a Game, Eagles: Eagles 41-14 (1988)
· Most Points, both teams: 62, Buccaneers 45-17 (2015)
· Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Eagles 13-3 (1977)
· Fewest Points in a Game, Eagles: Buccaneers 17-0 (2003)
· Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: Eagles 13-3 (1977)