Quarterback Nick Foles has a history of great performances in Tampa, Florida. One was a three-touchdown game against the Buccaneers in 2013 and another was a late comeback for his first win in his rookie season.
But in Sunday's 27-21 loss to the Buccaneers, Foles couldn't create enough second-half magic at Raymond James Stadium as a late comeback fell just short.
Foles completed 35 of 48 passes for 334 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He faced pressure for most of the game from a tough Tampa Bay defensive line as he was hit 12 times, three of them resulting in sacks.
When speaking to reporters after the game, Foles had a positive attitude about the loss and the comeback that almost came to fruition.
"I think the thing I take away from this game is how hard we fought," Foles said. "Tampa Bay played a tremendous game, they fought extremely hard as well ... but I was really proud of my teammates and the coaches for fighting throughout all the adversity."
Foles struggled to get the offense into a rhythm in the first half, completing 18 of 24 passes for 158 with the team's lone touchdown being a 15-yard run by running back Corey Clement. He had one fumble during a sack at the end of the first quarter in which he attempted to fire a pass.
The Eagles held the ball for nearly nine minutes longer than the Buccaneers in the first half and only scored once. A 34-yard pass to tight end Zach Ertz was Foles' only play of more than 20 yards in the first half.
"You just have to keep going," Foles said. "We had some big plays today. We had some things downfield and they weren't necessarily how you draw them up and that's the game of football. You can't force the big plays, you just have to continue to play."
In the second half, Foles seemed to get the offense working, completing 17 of 24 passes with a touchdown and no turnovers. He had more explosive plays like a 50-yard pass to Agholor and a 30-yard pass to tight end Josh Perkins, both which led to touchdowns.
A major challenge for Foles was a lack of playmakers on the field. Left tackle Jason Peters spent the most of the game on the sideline with a quad injury. Running back Jay Ajayi made a few crucial runs, including a second-half touchdown, but missed most of the first half with a back injury. Wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Eagles' top deep-threat, was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
"That's the adversity I talk about," Foles said. "Obviously, we want everyone healthy but that's not always the case sometimes ... so that's where the next guy needs to come in and do his job to the best of his ability and I thought our guys stepped up today.
"You're not going to have everyone healthy," he added. "That's just part of this game. So I don't focus on that, I focus on going out to the huddle and whoever is in that huddle, I trust them."
Another struggle for the offense was the plethora of penalties forcing Foles into long-yardage situations. The Eagles had five penalties for 50 yards in the first half. In a first-quarter drive, Foles and the offense faced both a first-and-30 and second-and-40 after penalties.
"We can't have these penalties," Foles said. "I think getting behind the chains is not something that we have done. We put ourselves in a bad position early in the game."
Foles wasn't spectacular against the Bucs, but his steady presence and lack of mistakes gave the Eagles a chance. Foles also surpassed Norm Van Brocklin for ninth place on the Eagles' all-time passing yards list and surpassed 10,000 total passing yards in his career.
He converted on two fourth-down plays, both being quarterback sneaks on fourth-and-one. His most impressive play came on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line with less than four minutes to go and the Eagles trailing by 13. Foles made a perfect teardrop throw into the back corner of the end zone to Nelson Agholor who made the catch for a touchdown and cut the lead to six.
But after that touchdown, the defense was unable to give the Eagles another realistic chance to score and the Buccaneers closed out a victory. With Carson Wentz edging closer and closer to returning each week, Foles knows that this loss, like any game, could be his last start of the season. He won't let it take away from his focus.
"I'm going to live in the moment," Foles said. "I'm grateful, I'm blessed to have played this game as long as I have so I'll go back on the bus, go home, see my wife, see my daughter, see my dog, focus on that ... whatever the team asks of me I want to do and help in any way possible."
Check out all of the best photos from Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 16, 2018.