Finally for the Eagles, a game ended with hugs on the sidelines. Players and coaches celebrated as a team following the Eagles' thrilling 23-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It had been eight weeks since the Eagles' last win, and the victorious feeling was long overdue. The Eagles won in dramatic fashion and capped a fourth-quarter comeback when quarterback Nick Foles hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown as time expired.
Achieving that win took a complete team effort and plenty of guts.
With two seconds left in the game, and with the Eagles trailing the Buccaneers 21-16, Foles had the offense one yard away from scoring a game-winning touchdown. Following a Buccaneers' timeout, Foles met with head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on the sideline, and was quick to select the play he thought could score. It was a bold move for a rookie quarterback, but, Reid said, the rookie had earned that right after his performance during the game.
"He wanted that last play. He called it, he wanted it and he executed it. My hat's off to him," Reid said. "He was feeling it, and it's a great thing when your quarterback is in tune like that... I'm proud of the kid."
Last Monday, Reid named Foles the starter for the remainder of the season, and Foles responded by having his best game of the year. The rookie completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards, two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground.
"He made some big throws. It looked like he rallied the crew in there. Everybody stepped their game up," Reid said. "It looked like Nick really did well and made good decisions and made some big plays … To do that, I thought he showed great intestinal fortitude and desire and all those intangible things you look for."
As impressive as Foles' performance was, Sunday's victory was the definition of a total team victory. The defense set the tone early by shutting out the Buccaneers offense in the first half. Quarterback Josh Freeman had only five completions in the first 30 minutes of the game, and the Eagles' secondary was able to silence a normally potent passing game.
Despite the impressive effort, Tampa Bay came back in the second half and took a 21-10 lead late into the fourth quarter. After Foles led a touchdown drive to bring the Eagles within five, the defense stepped up and got off the field when it mattered most, allowing Foles and the offense to make their dramatic comeback. Reid said after the game that he was proud of how the team stuck together and played hard through four quarters.
"They kept battling and encouraging each other," Reid said. "We were outscored in the second half, and the guys kept battling. We made some plays and the guys rallied around that. I thought our defense bowed up when they needed to bow up. I was proud of them for that."
The win Sunday snaps the Eagles' eight-game losing streak, but the team won't have much time to celebrate. They'll be welcoming in the Cincinnati Bengals for Thursday Night Football in only three days time. Still, the Eagles—Reid included—are happy to enjoy this win before they move on to Thursday.
"We haven't won a game in two months. We're stinking happy," Reid said. "I think everyone showed that. And then to win it that way, when it looked like it was going the opposite direction and momentum switched back we were able to capture it. I think that's big. Everyone was emotional."
There was only one major injury following the game as tight end Brent Celek sustained a concussion on the game's first play. Celek's status will be updated throughout the week, though the team only has two tight ends, including Celek, on the 53-man roster.
The Eagles also made a change to the first-team defense, as linebacker Mychal Kendricks slid to weakside linebacker after playing on the strong side through the first 12 games. Reid called weakside linebacker Kendricks' "natural position." With Kendricks sliding over, Jamar Chaney played with the first-team defense at strongside linebacker. The two combined for 11 tackles.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.