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keeponbucn

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: October 22, 2006, 06:54:15 PM

TAMPA -- A perfectly lousy day ended the right way: Matt Bryant kicked a 62-yard field goal with plenty to spare and for a second consecutive week, the Eagles watched as a home crowd celebrated a game-winning field goal.
That the Eagles lost 23-21 to Tampa Bay was, well, deserved. The Eagles turned the ball over four times, made a dozen other mistakes and then, with 33 seconds remaining, allowed a rookie quarterback to get a placekicker into position to win the game.

Awful all around, and the Eagles' margin of error just took another huge dip.

 
"You can't play that way and win," said head coach Andy Reid. "We had too many turnovers. Four turnovers against a good football team, we've got to do a better job at that."

Reid was being professional, calling Tampa Bay "a good football team." In fact, the Bucs are far from that, with a popgun attack offensively and a defense that generates almost no pass rush.

Tampa Bay is not much of a team at all.

Then again, the Eagles did everything they could to make the Bucs look good on Sunday.

How bad was it? Well, the tone was set on the first drive of the game when rookie wide receiver Jason Avant made a reception at the Tampa Bay 20-yard line and had the ball stripped loose. Tampa Bay recovered at its 19-yard line.

And the troubles continued. The Eagles dropped passes, committed dumb penalties and kept a lousy Tampa Bay team in the game.

In fact, the Eagles gave a lousy Tampa Bay team the game. McNabb threw an interception early in the second quarter, intending to go to Hank Baskett on an outside slant. But cornerback Ronde Barber read the route, left his man, Jason Avant, running a parallel route on the inside and made an easy interception and return for a touchdown.

Late in the first half, the Eagles drove from their 20 to the Tampa Bay 6-yard line with 8 seconds remaining on the clock. The decision seemed simple: Throw the ball in the end zone or kick the field goal. Instead, McNabb threw underneath to L.J. Smith and he was tackled at the 2-yard line as the clock ran to zero.

When asked if he would have preferred seeing McNabb throw the ball into the end zone in that situation, Reid said, "If we had to do it over again, yeah."

Still pressed, Reid said he and the offense would have to "keep working on it," and that throwing the ball into the end zone was "something we talked about" during a timeout immediately before the snap of the ball.

It didn't matter. The Eagles went out and made a mistake -- one of many on the day -- that would come back to bite them.

Still the Eagles were only trailing by a touchdown. They still had a shot.

 Not the way they were playing on this day. Tampa Bay took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and went 58 yards on 14 plays and scored three points on a field goal. More important, the Bucs shortened the game, eating 8:05 off the clock.

The Eagles were in trouble.

Three plays later they were in much deeper trouble.

McNabb, throwing on the left side for Greg Lewis, watched as Barber jumped the route again and made anotehr interception and return. This time, Barber went 66 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown and the Eagles were in an inexcusable 17-0 hole.

Then it was comeback time, and with McNabb visibly ill, the Eagles continued to make mistakes. Defensive end Jerome McDougle made a whopper, wrapping up Bruce Gradkowski for a sack. Only problem was, McDougle was penalized for facemasking Gradkowski, a 15-yard penalty. He compounded that mistake by kicking the yellow flag, costing the Eagles another 15 yards.

Tampa Bay ended up scoring three points on Bryant's 44-yard field goal, making it 20-14 with fewer than three minutes remaining in the game.

McNabb rallied the offense and Westbrook scored a dramatic touchdown -- a great catch and run of 52 yards that tied the game with only a half minute remaining.

But the Eagles couldn't finish. They let another fourth-quarter lead slip away to an offense that had to scratch for every yard. The special teams gave up a good kickoff return that set the Bucs up at their 36-yard line, a 37-yard return. That was huge.

An 11-yard completion to Michael Clayton gained one first down. Then Gradkowski scrambled for 9 yards and that, as it turned out, was enough for Bryant, who entered the game 2 of 5 on field goals this season.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? What has happened to this team's ability to close out a game? Why all these mental mistakes? Why does it seem like the Eagles can't seize momentum and keep it for the course of a game? And what is going on with all of these slow starts?

The Eagles fell into a 17-0 hole against a nothing team. Nothing. The Bucs are well coached and they didn't turn the ball over. They kept their composure. They deserved to win, because the Eagles gave them everything -- two interception returns for touchdowns, an awful mistake at the end of the first half, a handful of dumb penalties and then the final points.

At 4-3, the Eagles have no wiggle room, do they? They must summon the energy and return home next week and beat Jacksonville. They've lost three games in the conference, which could come back in the tiebreaking process later in the year.

But who can look that far ahead? Nothing is to be taken for granted. The Eagles need wins, wins, wins. They are a desperate team searching for some good fortune.




I understand the Bucs aren't world beaters but to call them a "nothing team" is a bit much. THis is the NFL where any team can win at any time, Dave. Way to write like a grade A chddar**CENSORED**.

Caveat Emperor

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#1 : October 22, 2006, 06:56:37 PM

Nice to know the fans aren't the only classy part of Philly...

gone

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#2 : October 22, 2006, 07:02:04 PM

AAaaawwww, I feel SO bad now...

DBrooksIsMyDaddy

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#3 : October 22, 2006, 07:02:49 PM

Well, good.  More bad karma to come back and bite them in the butt later.  I hate the Eagles and their fans (and now their soresport sportswriter).

OpTiOnMaStA

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#4 : October 22, 2006, 07:19:13 PM

That is your typical Eagle fan speak. They are all talk after they lose. I've never been able to understand them. They just can't say - good game you guys played well. It is always that the other team sucks but the Eagles just couldn't get it done. What a bunch of idiots.



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#5 : October 22, 2006, 07:24:13 PM

kicks rocks. pounds sand

DefenseWins

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#6 : October 22, 2006, 07:24:32 PM

WAAAAAAAAAAAA!!





It is a new day in TAMPA BAY!    GO BUCS!!

rowdie

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#7 : October 22, 2006, 07:29:24 PM

pwnd

DYK, we have a college football forum... http://www.pewterreport.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0

Cheers

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#8 : October 22, 2006, 08:09:29 PM

He's an idiot. If you want some fun reading, check out the Giants message board. They even have one thread saying "Thank You Tampa."   ;D We are helping NY to first place.

replica

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#9 : October 22, 2006, 08:19:55 PM

He's an idiot. If you want some fun reading, check out the Giants message board. They even have one thread saying "Thank You Tampa."  ;D We are helping NY to first place.
LMAO! Did you hear Gruden say he hopes that the Giants & Cowboys beat the hell out of each other Monday night?

Boid Fink

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#10 : October 22, 2006, 08:20:36 PM

pwnd
Geek.


karen anderson

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#11 : October 22, 2006, 08:20:42 PM

Last time I checked our "nothing team" has a little thing called a Lombardi---Philly, not so much. Suck on it iggles!

TURBO

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#12 : October 22, 2006, 08:22:14 PM

27-10
17-0
23-21

those are the numbers that matter...


Cheers

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#13 : October 22, 2006, 08:28:28 PM

He's an idiot. If you want some fun reading, check out the Giants message board. They even have one thread saying "Thank You Tampa." ;D We are helping NY to first place.
LMAO! Did you hear Gruden say he hopes that the Giants & Cowboys beat the hell out of each other Monday night?

LMAO, priceless! Without a doubt they'll be pounding each other.  I hope they smack each other until they puke  ;)

spartan

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#14 : October 22, 2006, 09:31:22 PM

Lets put it this way, up until this point we have been a nothing team. Now, I hope we are going to improve. The D in the last few weeks seem to be improving (but again whiffed way too many passes today), and O seem to be pulling it a bit together since Bruce Almighty took the healm. But, we are far from being a GOOD team yet, so this "beat writer" isnt so far off the mark. Other than the result anybody want to contradict anything that he wrote?

Nothing beats a W, nothing beats what we have done in the last few weeks, but if you just want to be Homeys this isnt the place for you as this is for the most part a place for intelligent conversation. We dodged a bullet today and it tasted sweet, very sweet, but please don't think we did not have a bit of luck on our side today and we have a hell of a ways to go yet. Being a homer only brings pain.  I would suggest we just bask in what we have and not jump to any conclusions. We have a long way to go against some very tough teams. Go Bucs.
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