After appearing as three-point underdogs and being heavily unfavored to win by media experts and fans alike, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the upper hand in a 32-9 win against a Philadelphia Eagles team that deeply struggled in nearly every aspect of the game.
Let’s see which factors prompted the Buccaneers to win this tough matchup and what awaits them in the Divisional Round.
How the Buccaneers Beat the Eagles, Advance to Divisional Round
Defense Brought the Pressure
Pressuring the quarterback is a great way to guarantee defensive success in a football game. The Bucs’ defensive line did just that: according to Next Gen Stats, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was quick-pressured (pressured in under 2.5 seconds) 13 times throughout the game, which ties a career-high for him. Also, with 10 unblocked pressures in the game, the Bucs tied the record for most among defenses this season.
The Buccaneers defensive line also sacked Hurts three times, including a safety, courtesy of two full sacks by defensive tackle Greg Gaines and linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and half a sack each by defensive tackles Calijah Kancey and Vita Vea. Additionally, the Bucs had five passes defended, five tackles for loss, and six quarterback hits, and they held the Eagles to 0/9 on third downs and 0/2 on fourth. It was truly a remarkable effort by the Tampa Bay secondary.
Eagles Struggled All Game Long
While you have to give credit where it’s due to Tampa Bay for a very solid game overall, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Eagles had a rough night on both sides of the ball. The defense struggled the most; they missed too many tackles and busted coverage in critical situations, including multiple missed tackles in David Moore‘s 44-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter following a collision between defensive backs Avonte Maddox and Eli Ricks that resulted in a busted coverage, and two more missed tackles by James Bradberry and Kevin Byard on Trey Palmer‘s 56-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Not only did they struggle on defense, but on offense as well. As was mentioned before, the offensive line had no answer for the Bucs’ blitz, as they allowed six quarterback hits, 13 quarterback pressures, five tackles for loss, and three sacks. Hurts finished the game with 250 yards and a touchdown, compared to Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s 337-yard and three-touchdown stat line. Eagles running back D’Andre Swift rushed for only 34 yards on 10 attempts while also hauling in four receptions for 32 yards. On the brighter side, wideout DeVonta Smith recorded 148 yards on eight receptions but had no touchdowns to show for it. The team’s lone touchdown would go to tight end Dallas Goedert, who also had 21 yards on four receptions. Overall, it was a forgettable game for this Eagles team that will go into the offseason to try and figure out a plan to be successful next season.
Next Up: the Detroit Lions
The Green Bay Packers‘ upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys means that the Buccaneers will face the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon, a matchup for which they appear as six-point underdogs and no longer possess home-field advantage. Historically, these two teams have faced each other 60 times in the regular season and only once in the playoffs, with the Lions leading the all-time regular season series 32-28 and the Buccaneers winning their lone playoff matchup, an NFC Wild Card game, by a score of 20-10 in 1997.
Tampa Bay’s key to victory is simple: to keep doing what they’ve been doing so far. It’s easy to write them off and claim they only beat the Eagles because of their recent struggles, but let’s not forget that the Bucs had won five out of six games before the playoffs and had decent numbers throughout those games. If they manage to replicate those performances, we could be looking at a potential upset and a trip to the NFC Championship game. As was mentioned in a previous article, no team is unbeatable, and we’ve seen worse teams thrive in tougher situations. Keep an eye out.
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