PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Tampa Bay's outstanding defense again
couldn't overcome its inept offense.
Question on the Bucs: How can they improve their defense over the next couple of months?
The Bucs are OK on defense. When you face a dominant offensive player (like today) you'll have some lapses. But the Bucs need lots of work on offense. If Tampa Bay and Gruden are going to go anywhere, they need to fix the offense.
Question on the Eagles: Are they overlooked in terms of elite defenses?
I don't think so. They lost some players, but they still have one of the best defenses in the league. Sometimes people focus on the scheme and see it as being more important then the personnel. The Eagles have an effective scheme but not many individual players who overwhelm you (although safety Brian Dawkins is a phenomenal player).
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
It was Philadelphia's fourth straight victory over Tampa Bay,
and it snapped the Bucs' five-game winning streak.
"It was an ineffective offense, to say the least today,'' Bucs
coach Jon Gruden said. "They are really good on defense, but we
have to do a lot better to ever beat the Eagles. We have to make
some plays on offense.''
The Eagles (4-2) knocked Tampa (5-2) out of the NFC playoffs the
last two years. Philadelphia's 31-9 victory in a wild-card game
nine months ago cost coach Tony Dungy his job with the Bucs.
But even with Gruden, their new offense-oriented coach, the Bucs
still couldn't score an offensive touchdown at Veterans Stadium.
Tampa, which got just four field goals in those two playoff losses,
scored its only touchdown on an 11-yard fumble return by Derrick
Brooks, a five-time Pro Bowler, also has returned three
interceptions for TDs this year, and the Bucs have five defensive
But Tampa's top-ranked defense, which hadn't allowed a touchdown
in three games and had given up just 30 points over the last five
games, was outplayed by the Eagles' defense, which came in ranked
third in the league.
"Statistically, their defense was No. 1. I firmly believe ours
is No. 1,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid said.
McNabb, off to the best start of his career, didn't put up
dazzling numbers. He completed only 12 of 25 passes for 127 yards
with one interception, and he ran for a career-low 4 yards on six
carries. McNabb connected with Todd Pinkston on a 42-yard TD pass
in the second quarter that put Philly ahead 10-7, and McNabb added
a 1-yard TD run in the fourth.
Duce Staley ran for 152 yards, including a 57-yard run late in
the fourth quarter that iced it. It was the first 100-yard game for
Staley since week 9 last season, and the first time all season the
Eagles had run the ball more than they threw it.
"We knew running the ball would wear them down. We just had to
be patient,'' Staley said.
Philadelphia's defense allowed just 207 total yards and had six
sacks. Quarterback Brad Johnson was lifted in the fourth quarter
after ribs he injured earlier became to painful for him to play. He
was replaced by Rob Johnson.
Brad Johnson was 19-of-31 for 124 yards and one interception.
His last pass was intercepted by Al Harris, giving the Eagles the
ball at the Bucs 42. Ten plays later, McNabb faked a handoff and
outran three defenders into the corner of the end zone to give the
Eagles a 20-10 lead.
Rob Johnson drove Tampa to Philadelphia's 6 on the ensuing
possession, but Martin Gramatica missed a 29-yard field goal that
would've cut the deficit to seven with just under four minutes
"It's pretty deflating,'' Rob Johnson said. "You go down there
and don't even get three out of it.''
Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, the Eagles got the ball at
Tampa's 45 after Brian Mitchell returned a punt 29 yards. Two plays
later, McNabb hit Pinkston in stride in the end zone for a 10-7
Just before the Eagles scored, Bucs All-Pro defensive tackle
Warren Sapp left the game after being shaken up. Sapp got his first
sack on McNabb since the quarterback's NFL debut in 1999, but Sapp
again wasn't a factor. The Bucs got to McNabb just twice.
"He didn't kill us today, but he found his man when he had to
find him,'' Sapp said.
Both teams got big plays from their defense early. A fumble
recovery by Barry Gardner on Tampa's second play led to a field
goal that gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead. Bobby Taylor forced the
fumble with a hit on Mike Alstott.
Tampa then took a 7-3 lead when Brooks recovered a fumble by
McNabb and ran it 12 yards for his fourth touchdown of the season.
Simeon Rice, McNabb's high school teammate in Chicago, forced the
fumble with a sack.
The Eagles are 11-0 after a loss since losing back-to-back
games in Week 2 and 3 of the 2000 season. They are 10-3 after a bye
since 1989. ... Gramatica has missed 5 of 14 field goals longer
than 30 yards. ... Alstott had 14 yards rushing, a week after
getting 126 against the Browns. ... McNabb has thrown just two
interceptions in his last 197 attempts.
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