A lot went wrong in this game, obviously. All of the Eagles linebackers were terrible, which is why Tampa broke big runs in the first half. Kiko Alonso gave up a TD to an unknown TE (Cameron Brate) that he was covering just by not turning around. On a third and three from the eight yard line.
The Bucs kept making big plays with simple formations that Philadelphia couldn’t adjust to, empty sets and Stanford-style extended offensive lines. Vincent Jackson scored a TD on a play where he and a TE were the only likely receivers. The odds were about 97% that they were passing to Jackson, but the Eagles played off of him and it was an easy TD. There was no reason not to double team him. Hell, triple team him.
But the most frustrating part of the game for me was how even the good things that happened for Philly just set up worse things to follow.
1. Near miss turnovers.
The Eagles gamble on a lot of turnovers, and often do well by it. They lead the NFL in forced fumbles. But it can also bite them.
At the start of the second quarter, the Eagles forced two fumbles in a stretch of three plays, but couldn’t come up with the ball. At least that resulted in a punt.
Near the end of the first half, the Birds batted down (and nearly intercepted) two passes — after which Charles Sims made an amazing catch for a touchdown on the next play. Byron Maxwell tried for an interception at the one yard line instead of breaking up Sims’ catch, which he easily could have done with a hard hit. Touchdown, Tampa Bay with 1:05 left in first half.
2. Over-aggressive play.
The Eagles clearly gave up in the second half, or (at least for the defense) maybe were just too exhausted to play hard. But when they did throw themselves into the game , that often helped the Bucs too.
Zach Ertz knocked himself out of the game attempting to vault over a defender on a shot pass that wasn’t going anywhere. He flipped and landed painfully on his head and neck, suffering a concussion. With only four days until the next game on Thanksgiving, there’s no way he’ll clear the protocol in time to play against Detroit.
There were three neutral zone infractions by linemen trying to get a jump on the pass rush, and one by Brandon Graham in the first half extended the drive that later included Doug Martin’s 58 yard run, and the Bucs first touchdown.
3. Josh Huff trying to do it all.
Huff had a great 39-yard catch and run for the Bird’s first touchdown, and 40- and 30-yard kick returns. But he also ran out a couple of kickoffs he probably should have downed. That resulted in a Philadelphia drives that started at the 8, and a weird confused handoff attempt with Riley Cooper that only got to the 16. Last year, he got injured and missed the first part of the season attempting to make something happen on a similar deep kick in a preseason game.