There was no sideline bickering this week. There were no doubts, either. Who the Eagles are supposed to be surfaced Monday night in a 25-11 demolition of the previously undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
The 3-0 Eagles are one of three NFL teams still undefeated (San Francisco and Miami being the other two) entering Week 4. The Eagles are 3-0 for the first time in consecutive seasons since 1992 and 1993.
Tailback D’Andre Swift logged another sterling performance, rushing for a game-high 130 yards on 16 carries. That follows his career-best 175 yards in the Eagles’ victory over the Vikings last week. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 201 yards after rushing for a team total of 259 against Minnesota.
Jalen Hurts was competent, though inconsistent, missing some throws he should have made. Hurts completed 23 of 37 for 277 yards and a touchdown—and two interceptions. Hurts has thrown three picks in three games. He did not throw his third interception until Week 10 last season, which came in the 32-21 Washington loss on Nov. 14. A.J. Brown came away satisfied, with nine catches and 14 targets for 131 yards after voicing his displeasure to Hurts on the sideline last week about his lack of touches.
The Eagles should not be challenged again until Miami visits Lincoln Financial Field in the Eagles’ throwback kelly green jersey game on October 22. By then, the Eagles should be 6-0—and they still have not been as efficient in the red zone as they could be.
Overall, there were mounds of good, a few bad crumbs, and some ugly correctable mistakes in the Eagles’ pounding 25-11 victory.
Swift’s second-straight 130-plus yard rushing game, topped by his 26-yard, third-quarter run when he jumped over Bucs’ safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Swift is a short tailback that is shifty, and whose blunt stature makes it tough for opposing defenses to sometimes pick up. He is strong, and right now, most importantly, he is healthy. It also helps running behind the best offensive line in football in left tackle Jordan Mailata, left guard Landon Dickerson, center Jason Kelce, right guard Cam Jurgens and right tackle Lane Johnson. Once again, they created gaping holes where Swift is not touched until second and third level. He had runs of 26 and 29 yards and finished with 130 yards rushing.
Linebacker Nicholas Morrow slicing through the guard-tackle gap and pulling down the Bucs’ Rachaad White for a safety with 3:40 left in the third quarter. On the play, Jordan Davis stands up Bucs’ right guard Cody Mauch. Bucs’ right tackle Luke Goedeke is occupied by Jalen Carter, creating a causeway for Morrow right to the ball carrier. Carter was double-teamed by Goedeke and Aaron Stinnie and the two could not hold the rookie tackle out of Georgia back.
Hurts beating the Bucs’ Logan Hall to the sticks on a third-and-three at the Eagles’ 32 on their opening series of the second half. It might seem small in the overall picture, but if Hurts does not get those extra few feet, the Eagles may not have had the chance to extend their halftime lead. The play led to a fresh set of downs and a Hurts’ one-yard TD and a 20-3 lead.
The Eagles’ balanced first half. Tampa Bay had not turned the ball over at all in its first two games this season. The Eagles’ defense, specifically safety Reed Blankenship and defensive tackle Jalen Carter, forced two Tampa turnovers over three plays. The Eagles held Tampa to 86 yards of total offense, and a scant three-yard average per play. The Eagles, meanwhile, had 303 yards of total offense, averaging 6.3 yards a play, and converted six of 10 third downs. The Eagles were again dominant on the ground, running over the Bucs for 123 yards rushing, while giving up just 20 yards rushing. The Eagles averaged 5.6 yards a carry, holding the Bucs’ anemic ground gave to average of 1.8 yards.
Defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Carter converging on Bucs’ quarterback Baker Mayfield on a first-and-10 at the Tampa 43, just after Hurts had thrown an interception with less than a minute in the half. The 11-yard sack was followed by Carter peeling back and punching the ball free from the Bucs’ Rachaad White at the Bucs’ 36 with :24 left in the half. The turnover resulted in a Jake Elliott 38-yard field goal and a 13-3 Eagles’ lead at halftime.
Hurts standing strong in the pocket to find Olamide Zaccheaus for a 34-yard touchdown with 3:32 left in the half on a third-and-10 from Bucs’ 34. A few plays earlier on the same drive, Hurts scrambled free to find Zaccheaus open down the sideline on a second-and-two at the Eagles’ 42 for a 24-yard gain.
Cornerback James Bradberry taking down Deven Thompkins in the open field for a 1-yard gain on a second-and-four at the Eagles’ 47 on the Bucs’ fourth drive.
Returner Britain Covey’s career-long 52-yard punt return to open the Eagles’ second drive at the Tampa 44. The Eagles got a Jake Elliott 36-yard field goal from it. Covey later returned the Bucs’ free kick after the third-quarter safety another 30 yards.
Blankenship picking off Mayfield just before the two-minute warning of the first half. It was Blankenship’s first interception this season and the first time Mayfield threw an interception this year. As a team, it was the first turnover for the Bucs. Earlier in the game, Blankenship came up to take down Sean Tucker for a one-yard loss on first-and-10 at the Bucs’ 25 on Tampa’s third drive.
Defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu following the Blankenship stop by pulling down Mayfield for a two-yard loss on a second-and-11 at the Bucs’ 24.
Jurgens getting out on the Bucs’ excellent linebacker Devin White on a third-and-six at the Tampa 26 on the Eagles’ second drive. Jurgens made a large hole larger for Swift to reach the 13 and set up a Jake Elliott field goal.
Kelce proving once again that he is aging like fine wine. He got and blocked White to make room for Swift downfield for a 14-yard gain on the first play of the Eagles’ second drive.
Linebacker Zach Cunningham on the Bucs’ first two drives of the game. Cunningham made three stops on Tampa’s first five plays.
Hurts-to-Brown on the opening drive. Maybe complaining on the sidelines does help. Hurts found his big target on successive plays for 44 yards, getting the Eagles across midfield quickly on their opening series.
Brown’s drop in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Dubious play calling once again in the red zone on the first two drives.
Hurts’ third-quarter interception. With the running game working with Swift, why Hurts threw up a moon ball with too much air under it after the Eagles reached the Tampa 41 is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, Carter and Davis helped the Eagles get a safety on the following play.
The miscommunication between Hurts and Swift just before the half, which led to the Hurts’ interception by White. Swift swung left out of the backfield, went straight up field, and then cut inside. Hurts, apparently, thought Swift would sit and wait.
Cornerback Josh Jobe getting nailed for pass interference on a third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 26. Jobe grabbed tight end Cade Otton, giving Tampa a new set of downs, which eventually led to a Bucs’ field goal and a 3-3 tie.
Dickerson getting called for an ineligible player down field on a second-and-10 at the Bucs’ 13 on the Eagles’ second drive. The flag pushed the Eagles back to the 18 for a second-and-15. The Eagles had to settle for a field goal.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.