The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2023 NFL playoffs with high hopes after a 13-3 regular season earned them the NFC’s top seed. But those hopes came crashing down on Monday night with an ugly 32-9 loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
First Quarter: Eagles Struggle Out of the Gates
The game started ominously for Philadelphia, as the Eagles went three-and-out on their first drive while Tampa effortlessly marched down the field to score a touchdown on their opening possession.
Brady efficiently led the Bucs on a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph. The 7-0 deficit marked the first time all season Philadelphia had trailed by more than 3 points in the first quarter.
The Eagles responded with another quick three-and-out, desperately needing their defense to get a stop. But Brady continued his surgical precision, engineering a 14-play, 87-yard drive ending in a Leonard Fournette 6-yard touchdown run.
Just like that, the Bucs had jumped out to a shocking 14-0 lead while keeping Philadelphia’s explosive offense completely bottled up.
First Quarter Score:
Second Quarter: Eagles Offense Stays Stuck in Neutral
The Eagles opened the second quarter by finally stringing together a few first downs. But the drive stalled in Tampa territory, and Jake Elliott’s 55-yard field goal attempt doinked off the left upright.
After a Bucs three-and-out, the Eagles put together another decent drive before once again misfiring in plus territory. This time, Hurts overthrew A.J. Brown on 4th-and-3 from Tampa’s 36-yard line.
The quarterback consistently struggled with accuracy issues all night, completing just 53% of his passes. Hurts’ banged up throwing shoulder seemed to affect both his arm strength and precision.
Philadelphia’s defense managed to force consecutive punts to keep the score 14-0 at halftime. But with the offense sputtering, the Eagles faced a daunting climb to get back into the game over the final 30 minutes.
Third Quarter: Bucs Pour It On as Eagles’ Hopes Fade
The Eagles received the second half kickoff needing an immediate score to stay alive. But the offense continued misfiring, quickly going three-and-out again.
Brady then engineered a back-breaking, 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive extending Tampa’s lead. His best throw was a beautiful 26-yard tear drop pass down the seam to Mike Evans in the end zone.
Down 21-0 midway through the third quarter, the Eagles were essentially done. Especially with Hurts continuing to miss open receivers with errant throws.
Philadelphia’s next two drives both stalled out around midfield. Meanwhile, the Bucs kept gradually pulling away.
Ryan Succop capped a 10-play drive with a 29-yard field goal to make it 24-0. Then on the ensuing drive, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. jumped a Hurts pass over the middle and returned it 36 yards for a pick-six touchdown.
The Eagles were suddenly losing 31-0 with under a minute left in the quarter – a shocking collapse for a team that started the year 10-1.
End of 3rd Quarter Score:
Fourth Quarter: Eagles Finally Get on Board, But Far Too Little Too Late
Down 31 points, Philadelphia finally ended the shutout early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles drove 67 yards in 13 plays, with Kenneth Gainwell punching it in from 1 yard out.
But Tampa quickly responded with another long scoring drive ending in Succop’s third field goal to make it 34-7.
With the game fully out of reach, Gardner Minshew replaced Hurts at quarterback midway through the fourth. Minshew led a late cosmetic touchdown drive, connecting with Britain Covey for a 25-yard score.
The Eagles did manage two late defensive stops to keep the final margin from getting completely embarrassing. But the 32-9 loss decisively ended Philadelphia’s storybook season.
Moving Forward After a Stunning Collapse
This loss capped a shocking six-game collapse by the Eagles after starting the year 10-1. Their once dominant rushing attack disappeared, while Hurts’ passing inconsistency caught up to them.
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon also deserves blame. His zone-heavy scheme repeatedly allowed Brady and the Bucs to efficiently drive the field uncontested.
So after a year where everything seemingly went right for three months, everything suddenly fell apart in stunning fashion. This loss will sting all offseason for players, coaches and fans alike.
Many questions now surround this team moving forward. Is Jalen Hurts the long-term answer at quarterback? Will Jonathan Gannon remain as defensive coordinator? How will GM Howie Roseman tweak the roster this offseason?
One thing’s for sure – despite earning the NFC’s #1 seed, this Eagles team still has a lot of improvements to make next season. This playoff debacle made that crystal clear.
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