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Bucs Jump all Over Eagles in First Half

The defending Super Bowl champions pitched a first-half shutout and led 17-0
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TAMPA – The Eagles are mostly a second-half team, so maybe there’s hope.

If only a sliver because, well, they get the ball to start the second half?

It’s something if not much. Not the way the offense played. Not that defense was much better.

The Eagles are trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-0, in the first round of the NFC playoffs at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

Some observations from a first-half blitz by the Bucs:

  • Not sure what defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was thinking, playing his secondary too far away from the line of scrimmage rather than pressing an offense minus Chris Godwin, A.J. Brown, and even Leonard Fournette. That made things way too easy for Tom Brady who took the short throw and put up 159 yards passing with 20 completion on 25 throws.

If this doesn’t derail the talk of Gannon being a head coach candidate in Minnesota and Denver, nothing will.

It’s not all his fault, though. The Eagles' defense needs to be rebuilt.

  • Paging DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. They were hard to find. Goedert finally made his first catch with 7:03 to play in the second quarter on a third-down throw that went for a first down. Smith didn’t get targeted until the clock was inside two minutes.

Goedert closed the half with three catches for 36 yards, but one crucial job wide open in the flat with nothing but grass in front of him. It may have been a touchdown or, at least, a gain deep enough to put the Eagles in short field goal range.

Smith had one catch for six yards, making it with 1:03 to play. He was targeted twice.

  • With 9:16 to play Ryan Succop made a 34-yard field goal to open Tampa’s advantage to 17-0.

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The Eagles had one first down to the Bucs’ 15.

Tampa had 190 total yards to Philadelphia’s 12.

The Eagles had run 10 plays to the Bucs’ 35.

  • The Eagles won the toss and deferred, sending Tom Brady out on the field first. It seemed that the team’s captains Rodney McLeod, Fletcher Cox, and Jason Kelce hesitated a bit before electing to defer. Probably would’ve been best to take the ball and try to go up 3-0 or 7-0 rather than take your chances to start the game with Brady.

Sure enough, the QB led a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took five minutes. A two-yard run from Giovani Bernard made it 7-0 and all the momentum was on Tampa’s side.

  • That was not a roughing the passer call on Derek Barnett that helped that opening Bucs drive to keep rolling. The penalty would have brought up a third-and-seven, so maybe the Bucs convert anyway. They were 2-for-2 on third down on that drive. But that wasn’t a penalty. Barnett hit Brady above the hip and seemed to pull up. Referee Craig Wrolstad saw it differently, like, that’s Brady, you can’t breathe on him.
  • Ryan Kerrigan had his first sack of the season, doing so on third down to force a punt. Then he had another one late in the half. He also made a tackle for a loss on Tampa’s previous possession, inside the Philadelphia 10.
  • The Eagles got called for another offensive pass interference. It’s a problem they haven’t gotten fixed all season.
  • Speaking of problems, Jalen Hurts needs to learn how to throw going left. Tampa took away the right side and forced the Eagles QB to go there, both on the ground and in the passing game. Hurts threw an interception with less than a minute to play and the Eagles on the move. Mike Edwards got it. Hurts got clobbered on the play, just as he did a play earlier when he hit Quez Watkins for a 35-yard gain.

Hurts was 10-for-18 for 88 yards and a passer rating of 47.7. He ran five times for 32 yards.

  • The running game was nonexistent just like in the first meeting. Like that 28-22 loss on Oct. 14, Hurts and Sanders were the only two to carry the ball. Sanders had four carries for three yards.

MORE: https://www.si.com/nfl/eagles/news/josh-sweat-ruled-out-after-life-threatening-situation

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.