TAMPA, FL -- It's hard to imagine that there would be a better catch Sunday than the one-handed grab Jason Avant had in the second quarter of Sunday's 23-21 win over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
Well, it certainly wasn't anywhere nearly as flashy, but wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hauled in the game-winning 1-yard throw from quarterback Nick Foles as time expired.
"I'm just happy to get a win, man," Maclin said of the victory that snapped the team's eight-game losing streak. "It's been over two months since we had a win. I'm just happy to get a win."
Avant caught seven passes for a game-high 133 yards. It was his fifth-career 100-yard performance. Maclin, meanwhile, had a game-high nine catches for 104 yards and the game-winning score. They shouldered the offensive load for the Eagles as Foles threw for an Eagles' rookie-record 381 yards through the air. Tampa Bay, the league's top-ranked run defense, kept running back Bryce Brown under wraps to the tune of 6 yards on 12 carries. Tight end Brent Celek was also knocked out of the game after the first offensive play with a concussion.
"They did an outstanding job and I'll tell you they have guts," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said of his receiving duo. "Jason Avant, I don't he's still 100 percent (recovered from a hamstring injury). Tough, tough guy. Maclin gutting it out. That was certainly a good game by them. They knew at some point in the game early there that it was going to be in their hands."
The Eagles got the ball trailing 21-16 with 2:44 remaining, but they had no timeouts except for the two-minute warning. Maclin had two catches for 32 yards to help get the Eagles to the Buccaneers' 31-yard line. The Eagles had already converted one fourth-down opportunity thanks to a scramble by Foles before lining up for a fourth-and-5 at the 23-yard line with 16 seconds left. Foles delivered the ball over the middle to Avant, who gained 22 yards before being stopped at the 1-yard line with the final seconds ticking off the clock.
"I tried to get as much as I could and keep my feet going and get into the end zone," said Avant, who was focused on protecting the ball. "When I couldn't, it was time for me to give the ball to the closest referee. If I put the ball on the ground and they kick it, game over."
Foles spiked the ball with 2 seconds left. The Eagles lined up, but the Buccaneers called timeout after seeing the offensive formation. Foles selected the playcall which was for him to take the ball out of the shotgun, rollout to his right and look for an open receiver. When the Eagles lined up for the final play, Avant actually thought the Buccaneers were in a good formation to stop the play. But Foles threw the ball in the only spot Maclin could haul the ball in. The play was reviewed, but in Maclin's mind there was no question he had the touchdown.
"I don't know why the replay took so long," said Maclin, who was consistently Foles' main target on screen passes throughout the game.
And as clutch as Maclin's touchdown was, the reception you will see over and over again for the remainder of the year belongs to Avant. Foles was under duress on a jailhouse blitz in the second quarter and floated the ball along the left sideline for Avant. Known for having the best hands on the team, Avant jumped up into the air, smothered the ball into his body with one hand and got both feet inbounds for a 20-yard gain.
"I saw the ball. Nick threw a bad ball," Avant said, jokingly. "No, he was getting pressure and threw it up. I was just trying to get close."
Back in 2006, the Eagles lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on a 63-yard field goal by Matt Bryant as time expired. It's only fitting that one a day when a number of young players were relied upon in the clutch that two veterans, especially Avant who played in that 2006 game, helped give the Eagles a thrilling win.
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