Bucs play best game, thrash Eagles

by Gary Shelton on January 16, 2024

in general

Mayfield had another big game./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

There have been bigger wins in the history of the Tampa Bay Bucs. There have been Super Bowls and conference championships, comebacks and blowouts.

Seldom, however, has there been victories that felt as good as the Bucs’ 32-9 whomping of the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night.

It was a season-defining win, one that ensured that this season won’t simply be remembered of surviving in a bad division. This was a one-sided romp over a team that was in last year’s Super Bowl, and one that started 10-1 and looked as if it was going back. The Eagles had seven Pro Bowlers (A.J. Brown missed the game) to the Bucs’ one.

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Moore gave the Bucs a reason to smile./TIM WIRT

Still, this will do.

It was a thorough, and an unexpected victory for  the Bucs, who dominated the Eagles throughout the game. If the Bucs had held onto some of its six dropped passes, the final margin probably would have been greater.

It was the most memorable Tampa Bay win since the victory over Kansas City for the Super Bowl.

This will be a team that is remembered for second chances (Mayfield) and staying the course (Bowles) and youthful energy (a slew of young players).

Now, they visit Detroit, They’ll be underdogs again. Not that that bothers anyone.

Baker Mayfield, ignoring sore ribs and a sore ankle, was spectacular. Even with the half-dozen drops, Mayfield threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns. His rating was 119.8. It was the seventh time Mayfield had a rating of 100 or more this season, but this was his second highest of the year.

With numbers like that, you would probably have expected huge games by Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Well, no.

Godwin caught only four passes (45 yards) and Evans caught just three (48 yards). But tight end Cade Otten caught eight passes (89 yards), Dave Moore caught a 44-yard touchdown pass and Trey Palmer caught a 56-yarder. Godwin caught a 23-yarder.

Forever, this will be remembered as Mayfield’s comeback season, as Todd Bowles’ survival season, as a season where the Bucs have given up 4.5 points a game in its last two games. The Bucs have now won five of their last six.

For the Eagles, Jalen Hurts hit 25 of 35 for 250 yards. Davonte Smith caught eight for 148 yards.

But the Eagles couldn’t run the ball, and really, the Bucs were resilient. Two plays after Mike Evans dropped a touchdown pass from Mayfield, Moore caught his 44-yarder, crossing the middle and weaving between the Eagles defense (which had an awful night tackling). Two plays after a safety upped the Bucs’ lead to 18-7, Palmer caught his pass, broke a tackle and ran  56 yards to score.

For an offense that looked punchless against Carolina, it was explosive. It was the 12th post-season victory for the Bucs in franchise history.

Now comes another test against another team that beat the Bucs in the regular season. The Lions have had a breakout year.

After this, however, another victory seems possible.

And, really, isn’t that an accomplishment for the Bucs?

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