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'D' Stands Tall When It Counts

Posted Dec 9, 2012

Tampa, FL -- The Buccaneers were poised to sink the Eagles for good.

After scoring 21 second-half points, the Buccaneers led 21-16 with 3:55 remaining in the game. They had the ball and were looking to run out the clock for their seventh win of the season.

Well, the Eagles had other plans.

"Guys had no quit in them. We just kept chopping away and came up with the victory," said defensive end Vinny Curry. "We went out there and played super hard. We made some mistakes, but that comes with it. "

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin was the first individual rusher to gain 100 yards on the Eagles, finishing with 128 yards on 28 carries. On the first play of the potential game-ending drive, Martin gained 11 yards on a run behind the left tackle.

After a 3-yard run by Martin on the next play, center Ted Larsen was called for holding on the following snap. That was critical as the Bucs faced second-and-17. Martin gained 9 yards to shorten the third-down attempt. It didn't matter. On third-and-8, Martin was stuffed by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox for no gain.

"Get off the field. Three-and-out. Forget about that first run that we made. We still had a shot," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "They had the holding call, and (on) that third down I can remember DeMeco (Ryans) saying ‘Get off the field, this is that play that we talk about in meetings, get off the field.’ Sure enough, Cox made a play. It felt good to get off the field, because we gave our offense a chance to win the game."

The tumultuous season for the Eagles took another precipitous turn last week when the Eagles replaced Jim Washburn as defensive line coach with Tommy Brasher. In just a couple of days, the Eagles' defensive linemen had to change the way they've attacked offenses all season.

"Previous games we were more attack, attack, attack. We were still attacking, but kind of conservative," Curry said.

It was a more read-and-react style for the defensive line instead of flying up the field. The Buccaneers were held without a point in the first half for the first time all season on Sunday. But after Damaris Johnson muffed a punt that was recovered at the 5-yard line, the Buccaneers offense found its spark. The Eagles led 10-0 at the half, but Tampa Bay's 21 consecutive points made it look like the Eagles would lose a ninth straight game. But the Eagles got the Bucs off the field at the end when it mattered most.

“We stop the run. We got them in third-and-long situations and we were able to come out there and get pressure on the quarterback, something we haven’t done in a long time," Ryans said. "That was the difference (from) prior weeks when guys would make plays on us on a third down. We eliminated the big plays. We didn’t have any big plays. We made them drive the ball down when they had to score."

Once the Eagles got the ball back on offense after the Buccaneers' final drive, quarterback Nick Foles led the team down the field and delivered the game-winning touchdown toss to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin as time expired for a 23-21 victory.

However, the amazing win would not have been possible without the last stand by the defense.

“I thought they did well against the run. They got a good running team: good run offense, good running back and a good offensive line. I thought (for) our D-line, I’ve always said this, it starts there," head coach Andy Reid said. "I thought they did a nice job. They played a good combo game where you’re able to get some pressure on (Bucs quarterback Josh) Freeman. Again, he’s tough to get to as we’ve seen over the last bit. We were able to get a little pressure on him and make a difference there. I thought they played well.”

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