A late rally was not enough to make up for a poor showing in the first half, as the Eagles dropped their Week 2 battle against the Buccaneers, 27-21 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception on a yet another remarkable day under center. He connected with four different wide receivers for touchdowns, including former Eagle DeSean Jackson, who finished with 129 yards on four receptions.
Nick Foles connected on 33 of 45 throws for 328 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. In his homecoming game, Nelson Agholor posted 88 yards on eight receptions and a late touchdown. Tight end Zach Ertz led the Eagles with 11 catches for 94 yards. It was Ertz's sixth-career game with double-digit receptions, a new franchise record. Injuries to several key players, including running back Jay Ajayi, left tackle Jason Peters, and wide receiver Mike Wallace put a dent in the offense's plans.
"I try to preach to our guys that a lot of times it's our execution," head coach Doug Pederson told reporters after the game. "It's what we do that really matters and we weren't successful in that area today. So, a lot of dejected players but there's a lot of football left and we'll get it fixed in the next couple of days and get ready for next week."
The Bucs' FitzMagic was apparent on the very first play from scrimmage. With great protection on an Eagles blitz, Fitzpatrick loaded up and found Jackson deep, who made a move on cornerback Jalen Mills and trotted in the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
After an Eagles three-and-out, the defense took momentum back as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox pushed Buccaneers guard Caleb Benenoch aside for a monstrous sack to force a third-and-long. The Eagles' next drive looked promising with back-to-back first downs by running back Corey Clement and Agholor, but penalties forced the offense backwards into a punt.
After a tremendous special teams play by cornerback Avonte Maddox, Tampa Bay began its next possession with poor field position.
The Eagles' defense forced another three-and-out, but the quarter then ended with some fireworks, as the Bucs sacked Foles and forced a fumble at midfield. Two plays later, a tipped Fitzpatrick pass was intercepted by cornerback Ronald Darby. The Buccaneers led after one quarter, 7-0.
The Eagles' next drive went three-and-out, as the offense missed the presence of wide receiver Mike Wallace, who was ruled out of the game with an ankle injury. However, the defense stood tall again and got the ball back after seven plays.
The Eagles then embarked on a methodical 13-play, 69-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. The drive culminated with a 15-yard touchdown run by Clement.
On the first play of the Buccaneers' ensuing drive, however, a defense that seemed to have settled in suffered another breakdown. Tight end O.J. Howard slipped by defenders in the secondary and ran down the sideline for yet another 75-yard touchdown. The PAT was missed, making the score 13-7 in favor of Tampa Bay.
An Eagles three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Bucs. They then marched 70 yards in six plays and finished with an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin with 42 seconds left in the half. The Eagles got down the field quickly, highlighted by a 34-yard pass from Foles to Ertz, but kicker Jake Elliott missed a 42-yard field goal with seven seconds to go to keep the score 20-7 at the half.
Ajayi returned to start the second half and carried the ball 20 yards on the first play of the drive. The Eagles then stalled at midfield, turning the ball over on downs.
The Buccaneers offense picked up where it left off in the first half, as Fitzpatrick found Jackson, for an impressive 28-yard catch to set the offense up at the Eagles' 6-yard line. Fitzpatrick then threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game on a four-yard strike to Evans to give Tampa a 27-7 lead.
After both teams suffered short drives, the Eagles finally created a couple explosive plays as a 19-yard screen pass to Clement and a 50-yard reception by Agholor brought the Eagles into the red zone. Ajayi finished off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown to make the score 27-14 with nine seconds left in the third quarter. It was Ajayi's third touchdown of the year.
The Buccaneers looked dangerous on the next drive, as they marched their way down the field. But after Evans made a 16-yard catch, safety Malcolm Jenkins punched the ball free and linebacker Jordan Hicks picked it up to give the offense the ball.
The Eagles moved the ball into Tampa Bay territory where three plays of no gain set up a fourth-and-10. Foles rolled out, had trouble finding an open target, and threw up a desperation pass that fell incomplete as a diving Clement collided with a Tampa defender, turning the ball over on downs.
The Eagles' defense kept the team's chances alive with a quick three-and-out, finished off with an impressive open-field tackle by cornerback Ronald Darby. The offense came out and moved the chains with under-the-radar players, as receptions by tight end Josh Perkins and wide receiver Kamar Aiken put the Eagles in the red zone.
On a must-score fourth-and-goal, Foles connected with a toe-tapping Agholor on a back-corner teardrop pass for a touchdown to make it 27-21 with 2:46 left.
The Eagles' defense took the field needing a stop, but the Buccaneers offense came up clutch when it mattered.
Two completions and costly penalties allowed Tampa Bay to run the clock down to 28 seconds. After a poor punt return by Clement, the Eagles had a quick completion to the 20-yard line and then tried an unsuccessful lateral play that ran the clock out.
The loss brings the Eagles' record to 1-1. They will return home to take on the Indianapolis Colts on September 23 at 1 p.m.
Check out all of the best photos from Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 16, 2018.