TAMPA, Fla. – It was about as ideal a sequence of plays as you could imagine, especially for an Eagles team that had not scored a single point on an opening drive in its first five games. A first-drive touchdown started things off for the offense that played well all day Sunday at Raymond James Stadium against Tampa Bay as the Eagles evened their record at 3-3 wiith a 31-20 win.
"I think we had a great game plan," center Jason Kelce said. "That's one thing that Chip does outstandingly. He and Pat (Shurmur) put us in great situations week in, week out in the game. Bottom line is, as an offensive line we adjusted much better this game than we did last game -- me, in particular."
After Damaris Johnson took the kickoff from eight yards deep in his end zone to the 15, quarterback Nick Foles and the offense came on the field and set the tone on the very first play.
Out of "11" personnel (three wide receivers) with two receivers split left, Chip Kelly called a screen pass to the right to LeSean McCoy. Foles looked left ever so briefly before turning and dumping the throw off to McCoy, who had a cavalcade of blockers and tons of green grass in front of him. McCoy turned on the jets for the first 30 yards, then cut back near midfield to avoid a few defenders. It was 44 yards later before he was even touched, and a shoestring tackle at the Tampa Bay 41 prevented him from going the distance.
"We talked about coming out strong and slowing the rush down and making some plays," McCoy said. "I think the screen helped us out, guys made some blocks upfield."
Riley Cooper, on a precursor to his big day, caught a pass between the left hash mark and sidelines before lowering his shoulder and bowling over the defender for another 12 yards.
A handoff to Bryce Brown followed, and he stretched the run to the right before turning upfield and falling forward for seven yards. Brown got the ball again on the next snap and went up the middle for four yards and a first down to the Buccaneers’ 18.
Then came the one blemish, an incomplete pass over the middle near the goal line from Foles to Zach Ertz, which was broken up by former Eagle Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. It would be the only play of the drive the Eagles did not gain positive yards.
On second-and-10, Foles hit Johnson over the middle for the latter’s first reception of the season, an eight-yard gain to the Buccaneers’ 10 to bring up third-and-2.
Kelly called a pass on the third down, and Foles quickly fired a strike to DeSean Jackson for six yards down to the Buccaneers' 4.
On first-and-goal from the 4, Kelly pulled out a play call that is typically reserved for Michael Vick. Foles took the shotgun snap and without a moment’s hesitation tucked the ball and ran through the gaping hole up the middle of the surprised Bucs defense. As two defenders converged on him at the goal line, Foles dove forward into the end zone to cap the drive with a touchdown.
"Did it surprise the world?" Kelce said with a chuckle of Foles' touchdown scamper. "It's something we worked on in practce all week. The coaches were confident in it, with how (the Buccaneers) had been playing in the red zone. That was something we got to early, and it worked out, obviously."
Eight plays, 85 yards, 3:14 of elapsed clock, no issues converting a red-zone opportunity into a touchdown, and a 7-0 lead for the Eagles. Perfection, just like Kelly drew it up.
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