It may be time to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seriously. In Week 1 the Bucs were 10-point underdogs against the Saints and won by eight. This week, in their home opener, they were three-point underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles and pulled out a 27-21 victory.
The Fitzmagic continues for the #Bucs offense as the Harvard grad tosses 4 TDs in the 27-21 victory over the #Eagles#GoBucs #PHIvsTB pic.twitter.com/xtiGh2s9nM
— Armchair NFL (@ArmchairNFL) September 16, 2018
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns for the second consecutive week. On the very first play from scrimmage, he rifled in a 75-yard touchdown pass to former Eagle DeSean Jackson. That was his 23rd career touchdown for 60-plus yards, tying Jerry Rice’s NFL record. Put that in perspective for a second of how explosive DJax has been throughout his career and into his late years…
Jackson may be the star early for the Buccaneers but the rest of the receiving core has been just as good. OJ Howard hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass of his own on his way to a three reception 96-yard performance. Mike Evans (10 catches, 83 yards) and Chris Godwin (5 catches, 56 yards) both caught a touchdown pass for the second consecutive game.
Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles completed 35 of 48 passes for 334 yards but was held to just one touchdown. Ryan Smith, starting for injured Brent Grimes, had a solid outing. He had nine total tackles, including a team-high seven solo tackles. Smith also had two pass breakups and had blanket coverage throughout the game. The above-average pass coverage led to some increased pressure from the defensive front.
Something the Bucs haven’t seen in the past is constant defenders in the backfield. As a team, they racked up three sacks, six tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hits. Kwon Alexander led the charge by flying all over the field. He picked up seven total tackles, three tackles for loss and a huge sack fumble in the second quarter.
The defensive line was able to generate pressure on their own as well. Jason Pierre-Paul had his first sack as a Buccaneer along with four quarterback hits. Gerald McCoy picked up another sack and two quarterback hits of his own. All around the Bucs’ defense looked a lot better.
If there’s anywhere the Bucs need to improve its the running game. The Eagles had the best rush defense last season so the run game was expected to struggle. But only managing 43 yards on 23 carries is not going to help the team long term. Over the first two games, the unit has rushed for 112 yards on 34 carries. This team is obviously being carried by its aerial attack, but every great team needs balance.
Up Next: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
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