S John Lynch and the Buccaneers held QB Donovan McNabb almost completely in check
NFL football has been called a game of inches. On Monday night, it was a game of feet.
WR Joe Jurevicius displayed magical footwork to make two stunning touchdown receptions in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' dominating 17-0 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Monday night game, the 2003 opener for both teams, was the first regular-season game in Philly's new Lincoln Financial Field. In the last game at the Eagles' old Veterans Stadium, the Buccaneers won 27-10 in the NFC Championship Game on January 19, 2003.
The Bucs and Eagles were locked in a defensive struggle – no surprise – into the third quarter before the first of Jurevicius' memorable moments. On second-and-nine from the Eagles' 13, Jurevicius cut across the back of the end zone and leaped in the back left corner for QB Brad Johnson's high lob. Jurevicius not only snatched the ball over CB Lito Sheppard but also stunningly got two toes down in the most limited of real estate.
The Bucs took that 10-0 lead well into the fourth quarter before scoring again. This time, on third-and-six from the seven, Jurevicius, with his back to the end zone, jumped high over CB Troy Vincent as if tipping a rebound back up, then spun around the falling Vincent and dove for the deflection, just snaring it before a diving Sheldon Brown could do the same.
It was, simply, one of the most remarkable catches in Buccaneer history.
The same might be said of Tampa Bay's defensive performance, though that is hardly breaking news for the defending Super Bowl champs. Even without injured middle linebacker Shelton Quarles, the Bucs held Philly to 245 yards and allowed only one real scoring chance (more on that later). Of those 245 yards, 74 came on a meaningless final drive against a defense that was laying back to avoid the big play and kill the clock.
The Eagles converted only two of 11 third-down tries and QB Donovan McNabb was sacked three times and forced into numerous errant passes. He finished 19 of 37 for 148 yards and one interception, that one on a deflected pass by Greg Spires that Anthony McFarland grabbed late in the fourth quarter. McFarland had made a similar play in the third quarter but lost the interception when he was hit trying to run for yardage.
DE Simeon Rice led the defensive charge with three sacks and the Bucs kept the pressure on McNabb even in the game's waning moments, as DT Warren Sapp nearly sacked him in the end zone for a safety. On four plays in succession on that desperation Eagle drive, McNabb was either tackled in the backfield after a throw or forced to scramble.
Webster, starting for Quarles, led the team with seven tackles and a fumble recovery and CB Ronde Barber, the star of last January's win in Philadelphia, had six tackles, half a sack, one pass defensed and a stop on special teams.
Even the Bucs' running defense was better than the statistics indicated. Philadelphia gained 121 yards on 16 carries, but 102 of those were posed by McNabb and WR James Thrash. Backs Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter combined for 19 yards on 10 carries, with a long of four.
Sapp also got into the act on offense, repeatedly coming into the game as a tight end on short yardage. Although he was more often than not a decoy, on his last offensive snap the Bucs finally got to a play they had been saving for some time. Releasing from the line, Sapp caught a short pass and rumbled down to the Eagles' 11, setting up Jurevicius' second TD catch.
At the end of the play, Sapp fired up the Buccaneer bench by giving the first-down signal more commonly used by WR Keyshawn Johnson.
Johnson, who had to go to the locker room in the fourth quarter with cramps, was one of the offensive stars. He led all players with 83 yards on six receptions, including an impressive leaping catch of a slant just two plays before Jurevicius' first touchdown. FB Mike Alstott proved to be the hammer again in the fourth quarter, rushing 12 times for 23 yards and catching five passes for 36 more.
Tampa Bay gained only 90 yards on 31 carries (2.9 average), but they spread the ball around as predicted. RB Michael Pittman led the team with 35 yards on eight carries, but Alstott got his 12 totes and Thomas Jones got 10 for 30 yards.
QB Brad Johnson suffered one interception on a deflected pass near the end of the first half, but he completed 27 of 36 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. The result was a passer rating of 99.1 for the NFC's 2002 rating leader. The offensive line, which allowed only one sack in three 2002 postseason games, stayed hot, allowing no sacks again and constantly giving Johnson time to survey the field.
The first half was a predictable defensive struggle, with the Bucs taking a 3-0 lead into the intermission. That first-half blanking was helped by two strange moments by the Eagles' offense.
Philadelphia's Andy Reid is considered one of the league's best head coaches, as evidenced by two Coach of the Year awards in the last three years, but two key decisions in the first half backfired on the Eagles.
First, the Eagles' only first-half scoring opportunity came up zeroes when Philadelphia eschewed the easy points of a 19-yard field goal and attempted a fake instead. The play was well-designed, with holder/quarterback Koy Detmer rolling out and throwing a corner pass to open TE L.J. Smith, but Smith couldn't haul it in the and the Bucs took over at their own one. A 59-yard punt by Tom Tupa and a flying tackle by Dwayne Rudd on return man Lito Sheppard then allowed the Bucs to turn the field position back around.
That call by Reid was aggressive, but the next one was puzzling. DE Simeon Rice hit McNabb's arm as he tried to throw and the resulting lob was caught by T Jon Runyan, which the officials ruled as a forward pass and an illegal touch. The Bucs declined the penalty, but the Eagles chose to challenge the ruling. The result: sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a loss of four yards. The Eagles had to punt two plays later.
The failed fake punt followed a wonderful goal-line stand by the Buccaneer defense, which had its back against the wall after a John Lynch pass-interference penalty in the end zone. The infraction put the ball at the one, but a play-action pass to Smith, a Duce Staley run and a rollout pass by McNabb all failed.
That was just the highlight of a dominant first-half performance by the Buccaneers' defense. At the halftime gun, the Eagles had just 87 yards of offense, 47 coming on a single end-around by Thrash on Philly's second drive. McNabb was sacked three times in the first half and held to just nine completions in 20 attempts, five of them dumpoffs to RB Duce Staley.
On the other hand, the Eagles' defense, while allowing 149 first-half yards, produced the only turnover of the half, an interception by Vincent of a deflected pass late in the second quarter. The play denied Tampa Bay a second scoring opportunity after the Bucs began the second quarter with Martin Gramatica's 23-yard field goal.
The Bucs' special teams got off to a rough start – reminiscent of last January – when Brian Westbrook took the opening kickoff out to the Eagles' 46. However, the Bucs' defense forced a three-and-out and the special teams were a winning edge from that point on.
Punter Tom Tupa averaged 45 yards on six punts, with a fantastic net of 42.5. S Jermaine Phillips deflected a first-quarter punt, leading to Gramatica's field goal. Karl Williams picked up 30 yards on four punt returns and Sheppard was held to 15 yards on his four returns.
Tampa Bay moves to 1-0 with the victory and into a first-place tie in the NFC South with Atlanta and Carolina.
Notes: Prior to the game, the Eagles conducted an elaborate 35-minute pregame show to celebrate the 'Inaugural Game' at Lincoln Financial Field. The show included a video on both boards that detailed the history of the franchise, a laser-and-fireworks show on the field, hard rock music, green spotlights, a performance by the Eagles Cheerleaders, a rousing rendition of 'God Bless America,' Teddy Pendergrass performing the national anthem, an F16 flyover and fans waving white towels. … The 'Linc' crowd might have been even more excited just before kickoff when the camera trained on Sylvester Stallone, standing in a tower off the north end zone. Stallone repeatedly pumped his fists and the Eagle faithful chanted 'Rocky, Rocky.' … S Jermaine Phillips played an active role in the field position that led to the Bucs' first score. After subbing in for starting free safety Dwight Smith on a succession of plays that ended in a Philadelphia punt, Phillips partially deflected the ensuing punt, and the Bucs ended up at the Eagles' 31. Martin Gramatica eventually scored the game's first points on a 23-yard field goal. … WR Joe Jurevicius' toe-dragging touchdown was reminiscent of his late-season plays against Green Bay and Atlanta last year, but it also marked the second time in two opening games with the Buccaneers that he has scored. In the 2002 season opener, Jurevicius caught an 11-yard touchdown during a frantic, fourth-quarter rally against the New Orleans Saints. … The Bucs won for the 16th time in the last 17 regular-season games in which they led by 10 or more points at some part of the game. The last time the Bucs lost in that situation was, coincidentally, to the Eagles on the final weekend of 2001. In that contest, played mostly by backups on both sides, the Eagles scored two late touchdowns to turn a 13-3 deficit into a 17-13 win. … On a key third-down catch by WR Keyshawn Johnson five minutes into the fourth quarter, five appreciative Buccaneer defenders came off the sideline to give the first-down sign in unison. … DT Anthony McFarland's interception of a tipped pass in the fourth quarter was the first pick of his five-year career. … LB Dwayne Rudd, who was replaced in the starting lineup just this week by second-year man Ryan Nece, made good on his pledge to help the team however possible. Rudd made two tackles on special teams, both times stopping punt returner Lito Sheppard for little or no gain.
Injury Updates: WR Keyshawn Johnson was taken to the locker room in the fourth quarter with cramps.
Quarter Reports: During Monday's game, Buccaneers.com provided game updates at the end of each quarter. Those updates follow to offer a closer look at the game's key plays.
First Quarter Update
The first quarter of the Bucs' and Eagles' season was, not surprisingly, dominated by defense. The two teams combined for just 82 yards, 47 of them on a successful end-around by the Eagles. Thanks to a failed fake field goal from the Bucs' one-yard line after a fine goal-line stand, the score remained 0-0 at the end of the period. However, Tampa Bay had the ball at Philadelphia's 16 when the quarter came to an end.
The Bucs lost their first coin toss of the regular season and thus had to kick off. The game had a familiar an ugly feel when second-year man Brian Westbrook returned Martin Gramatica' kick to the Eagles' 46.
However, the Eagles' first play from scrimmage was very well defended. DE Greg Spires was in QB Donovan McNabb's face as he threw a short pass to RB Correll Buckhalter, and S John Lynch made a hard hit on Buckhalter as the pass fell incomplete. On second down, McNabb completed a short out to RB Duce Staley but LB Ryan Nece quickly made the tackle after a gain of just one.
On third down, the Bucs brought Lynch and CB Ronde Barber on a blitz and the two defensive backs combined on a 10-yard sack. The Eagles had to punt and WR Karl Williams tacked an eight-yard return onto a 50-yard kick to put the Bucs at their own 21.
The Bucs' first offensive play of the season was a pitch to RB Michael Pittman that the back took around the left end for a gain of two. QB Brad Johnson wanted Pittman over the middle on second down, but LB Nate Wayne's tight coverage forced Pittman to adjust his route and Johnson barely got an incompletion off before he was sacked. On third and eight, Johnson threw over the middle to WR Joe Jurevicius on what looked like a big-gainer, but Jurevicius couldn't hold on. The Eagles thought they had recovered a fumble, but the play was ruled incomplete.
Excellent coverage on Tom Tupa's 45-yard punt put the Eagles at their own 37 for their second drive. However, the home team quickly got into scoring position on a big play when WR James Thrash ran around left end on an end-around and wasn't tackled until he was at the Bucs' 16, 47 yards later.
The Eagles got nothing on their next two plays, as Barber caught Buckhalter trying to get around left end on first down and McNabb was pressured into an incompletion on second down. However, Lynch was penalized for pass interference in the end zone on third down, a penalty that gave Philly a first down at the one-yard line.
The Eagles' first play from the one, a pass into the end zone to TE L.J. Smith was overthrown and incomplete. Staley couldn't get it in on a run up the middle on second down and on third down the Eagles tried a rollout pass that was very well defended and thrown away in desperation. Philadelphia sent in the field goal unit but rather than kicking ran a fake that was almost successful. Luckily for Tampa Bay, Smith dropped an on-target pass from holder and backup quarterback Koy Detmer.
FB Mike Alstott gave the Bucs some breathing room by bashing out from the one to the four-yard line on first down. A short post to WR Keyshawn Johnson on second down was too high for the receiver to bring down, setting up third-and-seven. Johnson couldn't hold onto a low pass on a third-down slant and the Bucs had to punt again. Fortunately, a low punt took a good bounce, caromed off Lito Sheppard and carried 59 yards. Dwayne Rudd's fine tackle allowed only a two-yard return and the Eagles were back at their own 39.
The Bucs were penalized for jumping offsides on first down, giving the Eagles a comfortable first-and-five to work with, but strange things were afoot on the next play.
McNabb faked a handoff and set up to throw deep to WR James Thrash, but DE Simeon Rice hit his arm and the result was a short lob that tackle Jon Runyan caught a few yards away. Runyan was tackled for no gain by Rice.
The play was ruled a forward pass and thus Runyan's catch was 'illegal touching,' a penalty the Bucs declined. Strangely, after replays seemed to show that the play was a sack-fumble by Rice (McNabb's arm went forward without the ball), the Eagles chose to challenge the ruling. The result, after the ruling was changed to a fumble, was a loss of four yards to the Eagles, back to the 40. Philly then committed a false-start penalty, and an ineffective draw play by Westbrook made it third-and-nine. McNabb's pass to Pinkston down the left sideline was overthrown and the Eagles had to punt.
A good return by Williams picked up 15 yards out to the Bucs' 34. Pittman's first-down run gained just two yards when he cut back to the right. On second down, the Bucs split two backs out wide to the left but Brad Johnson threw a perfect out to WR Keenan McCardell and the receiver cut up the sideline for a gain of 20.
Now at the Eagles' 43, the Bucs ran another out to McCardell that picked up five yards before a crushing tackle by S Michael Lewis. On first down, a good block by Alstott after a fake handoff gave Johnson time to throw, but his deep pass over the middle to Jurevicius was out of reach. Johnson's third-down throw to Dilger was complete underneath but good for just three yards. The Bucs decided to punt and the gambit paid off when Dwight Smith downed Tupa's punt at the Eagles' two.
Like the Bucs a few minutes before, the Eagles ran a good first-down play from their own goal-line, as Staley got four yards up the middle to the six. Pinkston dropped a perfect pass on a second down quick slant, after which CB Tim Wansley flattened him with a huge blow. However, McNabb threaded another slant into Thrash's hands on third down just in front of CB Brian Kelly.
A three-yard run by Staley and a four-yard carry by Westbrook made it third-and-three, and DE Greg Spires batted down McNabb's next pass. On fourth down, Dirk Johnson's punt was partially blocked by S Jermaine Phillips and it traveled only seven yards to the Eagles' 31.
From there, the handoff was to RB Thomas Jones, who dove over the middle for a gain of three. On second down, B. Johnson faked to Jones, then threw it to him in the right flat, and the back turned it upfield for a gain of 10. A pitch left to Jones gained two yards and brought the first quarter to an end.
Second Quarter Update
The Bucs' defensive dominance continued into the second quarter as the Eagles failed to score in the first half. Tampa Bay made a single field goal stand up for a 3-0 halftime lead. In the half, Philadelphia gained only 87 yards of offense, 47 on one play, a first-quarter end-around by WR James Thrash. The Eagles were also one of eight on third down tries and QB Donovan McNabb completed just nine of 20 passes for 50 yards and was sacked three times. The Bucs' offense picked up 149 total yards but were denied a second scoring opportunity on a deflected-pass interception.
The Bucs faced a second-and-eight at the Eagles' 16 when the second quarter began, but it quickly became second-and-18 on a holding penalty. QB Brad Johnson responded with an audible at the line that produced a 16-yard slant to WR Keenan McCardell. On third-and-two, the Bucs sent DT Warren Sapp in as an extra blocker but ran a play-action pass to FB Darian Barnes that picked up six yards to the four.
On first down, FB Mike Alstott tried to bounce a run around left end but was caught for a loss of one by S Brian Dawkins. After a blitz rushed Johnson into a hurried incompletion on a promising screen pass, the Bucs called a timeout before third down. The chosen play was an underneath shovel pass to RB Michael Pittman, but a very alert DE Brandon Whiting dropped the back hard for no gain. The Bucs settled for Martin Gramatica's 23-yard field goal.
The Eagles' next drive started at their own 25 and went nowhere on first down when a hard hit by LB Nate Webster put RB Duce Staley on his back. A quick pass underneath to TE Chad Lewis picked up six yards, but a short out to Lewis on third down was two yards short of moving the sticks.
From the Bucs' 27, Johnson enjoyed a lengthy time in the pocket and eventually threw a swing pass to Alstott on the left sideline, good for a pickup of 14 yards. However, the next two plays resulted in a combined loss of one yard, setting up third-and-11. The Bucs moved the chains on a crossing pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson which picked up 12 yards after a stiff-arm into Troy Vincent bought the receiver a few extra yards.
Alstott's run around left end was good for four yards, but a holding penalty on the next play made it second-and-14. A screen pass to Pittman lost a yard, and a quick-draw run by the same man tacked on just six. The Bucs had to punt and Tupa's high hanger was fair caught at the 11.
That's where the Eagles' next drive began with five minutes left in the half. WR Todd Pinkston ran a quick curl on the left side that was good for seven yards when McNabb hit him between the numbers. After Staley's second-down run picked up two yards, the Eagles faced a long third-and-one. The resulting hurried pass by McNabb was incomplete, but CB Ronde Barber drew a pass interference call, prolonging the drive.
On first down, Staley caught a short pass on broke several tackles to pick up nine yards, but he dropped the next pass, making it third-and-one again. A perfectly-timed blitz on third down blew up the intended play and resulted in a 10-yard sack that was split by ends Simeon Rice and Greg Spires. The Eagles had to punt and Karl Williams made a fair catch at the Bucs' 40.
The Bucs moved quickly into Eagle territory when B. Johnson fired a 20-yard pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson over the middle. The two-minute warning arrived just before the Bucs could run their next play from the Philly 40.
After the break, Johnson gave it to Pittman on a delay and the back charged up the middle for a gain of nine. A quick-hit slant to WR Joe Jurevicius picked up seven yards and a first down at the 24, and the Bucs followed with a timeout with 1:15 left on the clock.
After that stoppage, the Bucs tried to throw, but DE Brandon Whiting came in at Johnson unabated and he was forced into a hurried incompletion. A sideline pass to Alstott picked up seven yards and led to the Bucs' last timeout with 56 seconds left.
Disaster ensued on the next play. Johnson tried to hit Pittman on a short pass, but the ball caromed high in the air off Nate Wayne's helmet and was hauled in by CB Troy Vincent. His return got the ball back to the Philly 41.
After a dumpoff to Staley for three yards, Philadelphia used its second timeout. Staley got the next pass and got to the Bucs' 48 for a first down but the Eagles had to use their last timeout with 26 seconds left. A nice tackle by Tim Wansley on another pass to Staley kept the back in bounds after a gain of three, and McNabb spiked the ball at the Bucs' 45 to stop the clock and bring up third down.
S John Lynch got over to the sideline to help deny a throw down the right sideline, bringing up fourth down with four seconds to go. McNabb scrambled to the right and threw a 'Hail Mary' pass but it was out of the back of the end zone.
Third Quarter Update
The Buccaneers continued to controlled the action in the third quarter and tacked on a spectacular touchdown to take a 10-0 lead into the final period. The Bucs' offense turned in the game's only sustained drive through the first three quarters, an 80-yard TD march. At the end of the third quarter, the Bucs had a 236-135 total yardage lead.
The Bucs got the ball first in the second half and started off at their own 22 after Aaron Stecker's 18-yard return. RB Thomas Jones got the first carry and sliced off right guard behind a Mike Alstott block for a gain of three. After a penalty and an incompletion, the Bucs were suddenly in a third-and-17 hole. Tampa Bay played it safe with a pitch left and got no gain, leading to a punt from the 15.
Lito Sheppard got just five yards on the return of a 47-yard punt, but the Eagles still had the ball at their own 43. The Eagles committed a false start penalty but then got moving downfield in a hurry. First, QB Donovan McNabb fired an eight-yard sideline pass to WR James Thrash, then McNabb took off running through a seam on the left side for a pickup of 16 yards.
However, a 15-yard chop block penalty pushed the Eagles back to their own 47 and set up a first-and-25, and CB Brian Kelly broke up a short pass to Thrash. A long-developing scramble by McNabb picked up 10 yards, but Kelly broke up another pass to Pinkston on third down, leading to a punt. The kick snuck through two Eagle hopefuls into the end zone for a touchback.
The Bucs moved the ball to near midfield with two plays, an 11-yard strike to WR Keyshawn Johnson on a stop play on the left side and a late-developing 12-yard pass to WR Joe Jurevicius on the right side. Jones then ran for four yards, and Alstott got five yards and an out-and-in route by Alstott. The Bucs put Alstott alone in the backfield and split three receivers out, but still gave it to the fullback and he dove over the middle for two yards and a first down at the Eagles' 46.
K. Johnson caught another pass on the left sideline for eight more yards, but Jones' second-down run picked up just one. The Bucs brought DT Warren Sapp again on the third-and-one but ran Alstott to the other side and he sliced over left tackle for a gain of four.
Two plays later, on second-and-seven, K. Johnson made an impressive, leaping catch on a quick slant and came to earth with a gain of 16 yards to the Eagles' 14. After a one-yard Alstott run, B. Johnson called a timeout when he didn't like what he saw from the defense. After the break, the Bucs hit paydirt.
Enjoying an enormous amount of room and time in the pocket, B. Johnson waited for Jurevicius to cross the back of the end zone, then tossed a lob over a leaping Sheppard that the 6-5 receiver caught and, amazingly, was able to drag both feat before falling out of bounds. The Eagles challenged the ruling, but the play stood and the Bucs had a 10-0 lead.
The Bucs' momentum continued to build when Sean Morey was caught at the 11-yard line by CB Corey Ivy on the ensuing kickoff return. However, the Eagles' first play from scrimmage was a 12-yard pass to FB Jon Ritchie.
Three plays later, on third-and-eight from the 25, DE Simeon Rice jumped over an Eagle blocker and hit McNabb's arm as he threw, resulting in a short deflection that DT Anthony McFarland nearly intercepted. A penalty on the Bucs on the resulting punt pushed Tampa Bay back to its own 26.
RB Michael Pittman got the call on first down and hurdled one Eagle tackler to get four yards. A swing pass to Pittman got nothing but did run out the clock on the quarter.
Fourth Quarter Update
Already dominant through three quarters, the Bucs turned it up a notch in the final period and put the finishing touches on a 17-0 blanking of the Eagles. It was the first time the Eagles had been shut out at home since November 2, 1998, a 34-0 loss to Dallas.
The Eagles picked up 74 yards on their final drive against a sagging Bucs defense but still finished with just 245 yards of total offense. The Bucs had 328. It was the third straight opening game on the road that the Bucs have won.
The Bucs faced a third-and-six when the fourth quarter began and were able to move the sticks on a fine play by RB Michael Pittman. Pittman caught a pass coming across the field and was able to fight through a tackle by DE N.D. Kalu to just get the ball over the first-down line.
From the Bucs' 38, Pittman got two yards up the middle and FB Mike Alstott picked up seven on a pass, avoiding one tackle to get three extra yards. On third-and-one, Alstott ran behind a power package for a gain of three and a first down at midfield.
The Bucs were happy to keep it on the ground and even happier when Pittman picked up nine yards off right guard. However, another power-package run by Alstott was sniffed out by the Eagles and stopped for a loss of two on the right end. On third-and-three, QB Brad Johnson lofted a high pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson on a deep in and the receiver made a sparkling, leaping catch, holding on despite a big hit from safety Michael Lewis.
After a two-yard run by Thomas Jones, the Bucs brought in their power package again but used it for a bit of trickery. After initially laying out a block, DT Warren Sapp, playing tight end, headed downfield and caught a short pass from Johnson. The 300-pound defender then turned upfield and bounced off several Eagle tacklers to pick up 14 yards to the Eagle 11.
Two runs, one by Jones and one by Aaron Stecker, left the Bucs in a third-and-six from the seven. They got it into the end zone on one of the most remarkable plays in Buccaneer history.
Under pressure, Johnson threw a long out to WR Joe Jurevicius on the right sideline. With CB Troy Vincent closing in, Jurevicius leaped to tip the ball in the air from just inside the one-yard line. Jurevicius then spun around Vincent like a power forward charging the basket and made a diving catch in the end zone, just before S Sheldon Brown made his own diving catch. The result was a 17-0 Bucs lead with seven and a half minutes remaining.
A short kick and a 22-yard return put the Eagles on their own 41 for their next drive. McNabb had a long time to contemplate his receivers on first down and eventually hit WR Freddie Mitchell over the middle for a gain of 15. McNabb hurriedly threw another pass to WR James Thrash for five yards, then scrambled down to the 23 for 16 yards and a first down.
On the next play, McNabb tried to hit Thrash on the right side but DE Greg Spires batted it in the air and DT Anthony McFarland caught the rebound for an interception at the Bucs' 24.
The Bucs were fully in clock-kill mode on the ensuing possession, giving it to Alstott for the first two carries, which netted a total of four yards. Jones then made a big play, taking a pitch around right end for a gain of 15 yards and a first down at the Bucs' 43.
One more Jones runs and two totes for Alstott picked up a total of four yards and the Bucs punted with just over three minutes remaining. A 48-yard punt and Dwayne Rudd's tackle of Sheppard put Philly at their own eight with 3:04 to go.
McNabb was nearly sacked by Sapp in the end zone for a safety on first down but escaped just long enough to get off a desperation heave. He then scrambled out of pressure on the next two plays for a total of 13 yards and a first down at the 21.
McNabb completed his next three passes for a total of 33 yards, getting Philadelphia just into Buccaneer territory. Two plays later, he found Thrash on the right sideline for another 14-yard pickup. As the clock ticked down to zero, McNabb dumped off a short pass to Staley and the back fumbled, with the Bucs recovering for a meaningless, if stat-pumping turnover.