Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Bucs Falter Against Eagles, Suffer First Loss of 2023

A slow start on offense and difficulty getting off the field on third down on defense doomed the Buccaneers to a 25-11 loss to Philadelphia on Monday night, as the Eagles enjoyed nearly a 300-yard advantage in total offense


Jalen Hurts threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score as part of a 201-yard rushing effort, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense committed its first two turnovers of the season as the visiting Philadelphia Eagles won a 25-11 showdown of unbeatens at Raymond James Stadium on Monday night.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak against Philadelphia for the Buccaneers and dropped the home team to 2-1 on the season. The Eagles, in their defense of last year's NFC championship, improved to 3-0 and joined San Francisco as the only remaining undefeated teams in the conference. The Buccaneers are tied with Atlanta and New Orleans for first place in the NFC South.

"Give the Eagles credit," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "They made some plays and we didn't. It was a hard-fought game and we own it. We own it. They stayed in third-and-short, they got first downs. We didn't play a good ballgame. They had a lot to do with that."

After allowing just 17 points each in wins over Minnesota and Chicago to start the season, the Buccaneers had difficulty containing Hurts and company, surrendering 472 total yards of offense, including those 201 ground yards on 40 carries. Eagles running back D'Andre Swift led the way on the ground with 130 yards on 16 carries, frequently gashing his way into the second level of the defense for big gains. The Eagles and Buccaneers came into the game ranked first and second, respectively, in rush defense but that battle went decisively in the Eagles' favor, as Tampa Bay was held to 41 yards on the ground. This was never more evident than a Rachaad White carry from the Buccaneers' one-yard line after a Dee Delaney interception was stopped in the end zone for a safety in the third quarter.

"[Swift is] a good football player," said Bowles. "Big offensive line, very talented. Two or three times we let it out when we should have fit it better. Two or three times, the hole was open, they did a good job of scheming up the blocks. We've got to do a better job as coaches, we've got to do a better job as players. So we own that, we understand that and we'll get back to work."

Asked what he thought of the Bucs' run game, which showed signs of life in Week Two with 120 yards against Chicago, Bowles didn't mince words.

"We didn't have one," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat anything. We own what we have. It's on everybody. They made some plays, give them credit. We've got to block them better. We didn't do a good job on first down overall, whether we ran it or threw it. We did not do a good job on first down on either side of the ball."

View the top photos of Tampa Bay's Week 3 matchup vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.

Overall, the Eagles outgained the Buccaneers by 298 total yards. The game marked just the fifth time in team history and the first time since 2006 that the Buccaneers gained fewer than 200 yards in the game and surrendered more than 450. In another bit of unintentional history, the Buccaneers and Eagles played the first game in NFL history to finish with a 25-11 score.

"That's a good football team," said Mayfield. "Anytime you give them more opportunities to have the football in their hands they're going to capitalize. We just have to be better on offense as a whole. I've got to be better taking advantage of different outlets and things I had early on."

That 2006 game noted above, fittingly, was against the Eagles and was actually a Buccaneers victory thanks to two Ronde Barber pick-sixes and a walk-off 62-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. Barber, the Bucs' newly-minted Hall-of-Famer, was honored in a halftime ceremony with his Ring of Excellence from the Hall and a Hall of Fame logo by his name in the Ring of Honor.

The Buccaneers' offense committed its first two turnovers of the season in a span of three offense snaps late in the first half. Mayfield threw his first interception as a Buccaneer in Tampa Bay territory with 2:32 left in the second quarter; after Devin White got the ball back with his own interception moments later, RB Rachaad White lost a fumble two snaps into the next possession. Coming into Monday night, the Buccaneers were the only team in the NFL that had not committed a turnover.

"Obviously, we didn't move the ball well," said Bowles. "As a team, we didn't play well. It wasn't just the offense. We're going to win as a team, we're going to lose as a team. Offense didn't play well, defense didn't play well, special teams gave up field position."

Tampa Bay's defense had trouble getting off the field, allowing 10 conversions on 16 third-down attempts by the Eagles. In addition, after racking up six sacks in its first two games, the Bucs defense dropped Hurts only once and didn't pressure him often, and Hurts turned most of those pressures into successful scrambles, running 10 times for 28 yards and a touchdown.

The Bucs used good red zone defense early to keep the game close, allowing just three points on the Eagles' first two drives, both of which reached inside Tampa Bay's 20. The game was knotted 3-3 late into the first half before Hurts fired a 34-yard touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus late in the first half. The Eagles also opened the second half with a methodical 13-play, 75-yard touchdown pass to make the score 20-3. Mayfield did rally the Bucs with an impressive 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles killed any idea of a comeback by holding onto the ball for the final 9:22 of regulation.

That fourth-quarter touchdown drive ended in a one-yard scoring pass to WR Mike Evans, who led the team with five receptions for 60 yards and found the end zone for the third time in as many games in 2023. Mayfield completed 15 of 25 passes for 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception and was sacked twice after being dropped just once in the Bucs' first two games. Evans's touchdown catch was the 84th of his career, tying him for 21st place in NFL history with Mark Clayton, Irving Fryar, Tommy McDonald and Andre Rison.

"We just got into a little bit of tempo," said Mayfield of the touchdown drive. "Mike made a couple really good plays and an incredible catch right there. Just taking advantage of numbers and playing fast. Unfortunately, we screwed ourselves so we were too far behind at that point. We've just got to be better early on."

The Bucs' next game is in New Orleans on Sunday, October 1, and it will be a battle for at least a share of first place in the NFC South, as the Saints and Atlanta Falcons are also 2-1 after three weeks. Tampa Bay is trying to win the division title for a third consecutive season.

"We can't mope about it," said Bowles of the first loss of the season. "We've got to get ready for New Orleans. We've got to get nursed up and get the injured guys, and we've got a division game this week."

The Bucs got the ball to start the game after a touchback. Two Rachaad White runs made it third-and-three to start the drive and Mayfield moved the chains with a seven-yard out to Chris Godwin. A deep post shot to WR Deven Thompkins was out of his reach on the following first down. On the second third down of the drive, needing eight yards, Evans ran a deep stop down the right sideline but couldn't hold onto Mayfield's pass and the Bucs had to punt.

The Eagles' first drive started at their own 25. An eight-yard run over right guard got the drive started before Hurts hit WR A.J. Brown on a crossing route that he took up the left sideline for 28 yards to the Bucs' 39. Hurts found Brown again over the middle for another 16 more yards on the next play. Three plays later, on third-and-one from the 14, CB Zyon McCollum broke up a pass intended for Olamide Zaccheaus in the end zone. The Eagles chose to go for it on fourth down but S Ryan Neal found his way into the backfield to drop RB Kenneth Gainwell for a loss of one.

That gave the ball back to the Bucs at their own 15 and they quickly moved away from their end zone on a nifty 16-yard catch by TE Cade Otton. Three plays later, the Bucs faced another third down, needing seven yards, and Mayfield had to scramble after avoiding a near-sack. He avoided disaster but came up five yards short of the sticks. Jake Camarda boomed a 60-yard punt but return man Britain Covey found a seam and ran it back 52 yards to the Bucs' 44.

Swift took a handoff out of the shotgun going right to left on the first play of the drive and got 14 yards to the 30. Two short gains made it third-and-six and the Eagles ran another shotgun handoff to Swift, who found a huge hole around right tackle and got all the way down to the 13. The game was interrupted for a couple minutes by an injury to CB Jamel Dean, after which the Eagles fell into a second-and-15 after an ineligible man downfield penalty and pressure on Hurts helped force a pair of incompletions. The Eagles settled for Jake Elliott's 36-yard field goal to open the scoring.

The Bucs' third drive stalled immediately, thanks in part to a two-yard sack by DL Marlon Tuipulotu. Mayfield tried to connect with Thompkins on a deep comebacker down the left sideline but it was incomplete and Camarda came on to kick again. This time his kick went 73 yards, though Covey was able to grab it at the five and get it back to the 19. A defensive-holding call got the Eagles drive started and Hurts threw a deep out to WR DeVonta Smith for 15 yards. After a five-yard Hurts scramble, the first quarter came to an end. The Eagles faced a third-and-five at their own 46 early in the next period and the Bucs forced Hurts into a scramble that eventually led to a throwaway with Anthony Nelson in pursuit.

Thompkins fair caught the ensuing punt at the Bucs' 16 and White took a short pass out to the left upfield for a gain of 16. It was third-and-three at the 39 moments later after White's seven-yard run up the middle, and Mayfield kept the drive alive with a quick slant to Evans for eight more. Facing a third-and-three at the Eagles' 46, Mayfield saw Godwin find a seam down the right hash and hit him for 18 yards and a first down. It was third down again after an incompletion and a two-yard run by RB Sean Tucker, and this time the drive was extended by a pass interference call on CB Josh Jobe against Otton at the 16. The next third down needed nine yards and this time the drive stalled after a pass into the end zone to Evans was just broken up at the last second. K Chase McLaughlin came on to tie the game with his 33-yard field goal with 8:33 left in the first half.

WR Devon Allen elected to bring out Camarda's kickoff from a yard deep and was dropped at the 17 by LB K.J. Britt. More pressure flushed Hurts from the pocket on second-and-five and he threw a hurried incompletion at Brown's feet. The Bucs blitzed on third down but didn't get home and Hurts found TE Dallas Goedert over the middle for 13 yards. Hurts narrowly avoided a sack two snaps later and was able to locate a wide-open Zaccheaus down the left sideline for 24 yards to the Bucs' 34. A hustling stop by rookie S Christian Izien on Brown two snaps later made it third-and-five at the 29 and a false start then moved the ball back five yards. Despite being hit as he threw by DL Greg Gaines, Hurts was able to get off a pass deep down the right numbers to Zaccheaus for a 34-yard touchdown.

The Eagles quickly got the ball back in scoring territory with 2:26 left in the half. After an ineligible man downfield penalty, facing a second-and-13 from the 22, Mayfield tried to zip a pass down the hashmarks to Godwin but S Reed Blankenship sniffed it out and made a diving interception. A Gainwell six-yard run brought on the two-minute warning with the ball at the Bucs' 31. Logan Hall brought Hurts down by his jersey on a designed run to make it third-and-one and the Eagles brought out their "tush push" play to get Hurts over the line to gain for a first down. The play was reviewed but unchanged, making it first down at the Bucs' 27. Hurts took a shot at Brown in the end zone on the next play and it was incomplete, but an illegal use of the hands penalty on Dean moved the ball up five yards. On the next play, Hurts misfired on a short pass attempt to Swift and Devin White hauled it in for an interception that he returned 26 yards to the Bucs' 43.

The Bucs didn't have the ball for long. Mayfield was sacked for a loss of 11 by Fletcher Cox on first down and the Eagles got the ball back on the next play. White caught a short pass on the left side and turned upfield but DT Jalen Carter got to him from behind and chopped the ball out of his hands, with CB James Bradberry recovering at the Bucs' 36.

Facing a third-and-two at the 28, the Eagles let Hurts keep it and he eluded several tacklers to get down to the 20, burning their final timeout with nine seconds left in the half. Dean nearly picked off Hurts' next pass and the Eagles sent out Elliott to hit a 38-yarder for a 10-point lead at the half.

Philly got the ball to start the second half following a Camarda touchback. Gaines had another hit on Hurts on the first play of the drive to help force an incompletion on a downfield shot. An out to the left sideline to Smith made it third-and-three and the Eagles got a new set of downs when Hurts was flushed from the pocket but was able to make it around the right corner to get to the 36. Brown ran a stop route left for 11 yards to get the ball near midfield, and Goedert got nine more on the next snap. Swift shot up the middle on the next play and hurdled a defender, getting all the way down to the Bucs' 16. After another nine-yard gain by Swift on a counter, the Bucs burned a timeout with the ball at the seven. Swift got it again and got just enough for a first down before being dropped by S Antoine Winfield Jr. Swift made it first-and-goal from the one with a five-yard run, and after an incompletion the Eagles ran the tush push play twice in a row to get the last yard and a 20-3 lead.

A rollout eight-yard pass to rookie wideout Trey Palmer two plays into the ensuing drive got the Bucs an initial first down but they faced a third-and-seven from their 39 moments later. Mayfield moved up in a collapsing pocket and uncorked a very deep pass in Evans's direction but it was out of his reach and the Bucs had to punt midway through the third quarter.

Two Swift runs made it third-and-one and the Eagles once again pulled out the tush push play, successfully getting the ball over the line to gain. Two plays later, Swift gashed over right guard and broke into the clear for a gain of 29 to the Bucs' 41. Delaney, in the game in place of an injured Dean, caught up with a deep pass attempt by Hurts to Smith and intercepted the ball at the one-yard line. As it turned out, that takeaway backfired on the Bucs as White was stopped a yard deep in the end zone on the next play for an Eagles safety.

That made the score 22-3 with 3:31 left in the third quarter and forced the Bucs to kick off from their own 20. Camarda punted it all the way down to the Eagles' three, but another good return from Covey and a penalty on the Bucs' cover team allowed Philly to start again from their own 37. Two Swift runs up the gut moved the chains, and two plays later Brown caught a sideline pass and turned it up for 21 yards to the Tampa Bay 27. Another 15-yard gain by Brown moments later made it first-and-goal at the six as the third quarter came to an end. When play resumed, rookie CB Derrek Pitts was in the vicinity as a Hurts end zone pass to Brown failed, and Gainwell was stopped at the two on second down. The Eagles lined up in their trademark tush push formation on third down but tried some trickery, with Hurts faking a dive and then backing out. However, he tripped as he backed up and was dropped by a swarm of tacklers at the eight. Elliott came on to hit a 24-yard field goal to make it 25-3.

A play-action strike to Evans got the next drive off to a good start, as Mayfield hit his receiver in stride for a gain of 24. Those two hooked up again on the next play with Evans making a remarkable leaping one-handed grab for 22 more. White then found the edge for a 12-yard run down to the 19. Three plays later, on third-and-two, Mayfield hit Godwin on an out and the receiver's dive came up just short of the right front pylon. An incompletion and a White run for no gain made it third-and-goal but Mayfield went back to Evans on the next play for a touchdown. The Bucs went for two and Mayfield found Godwin in the right side of the end zone for the successful conversion to make it 25-11 with 9:22 to play.

The Bucs needed a quick stop on defense to continue any sort of comeback but the Eagles kept the ball on the ground and got two quick first downs, including yet another third-down conversion on the tush push play. With exactly five minutes left, the Eagles faced a third-and-13 at their own 45, and Brown was able to turn a short curl into a 25-yard gain down the left sideline. Another third down conversion kept the clock running and Hurts ran a two-yard keeper to the Bucs' 17 to bring on the two-minute warning. One more first down allowed the Eagles to run out the clock.

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