Buccaneers 19, Eagles 5
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found a perfect solution to their problems Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles are perfectly awful, even with Donovan McNabb at quarterback.
Though Trent Dilfer failed to redeem himself from a poor performance in the opener, the Bucs had little trouble beating the punchless Eagles 19-5 on Sunday.
Warren Sapp had 3 1/2 of the Bucs’ nine sacks in a punishing display that transformed McNabb’s NFL debut into a high-speed run for his life. Bucs fullback Mike Alstott rushed 15 times for 64 clock-eating yards and caught three passes for 33 yards, including a 17-yard TD that made it 19-5 in the third.
McNabb, the No. 2 overall draft pick who has the whole city rooting for him to get a chance, replaced starter Doug Pederson at the start of the second half. All it proved was how dangerous it is to throw McNabb behind an offensive line that can’t block.
McNabb was sacked six times and would have been caught for many more if not for his speed. He was 4-for-11 for 26 yards. Pederson, who officially left the game with a sprained right shoulder, was 12-for-19 for 100 yards and was sacked three times.
Dilfer, who threw three interceptions in a 17-13 loss to the Giants last week, was 7-for-14 for 89 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Victimized by officiating mistakes against New York, he just made some bad throws this time.
The worst was a balloon ball he lofted up for grabs on the first play of Tampa Bay’s initial drive of the fourth. It was easily intercepted by Brian Dawkins, who ran it back 37 yards to set up yet another ideal scoring opportunity.
True to form, the Eagles went three plays and out _ including two sacks against McNabb.
The Eagles closed the first half with a clock-management blunder that cost them an easy field goal and angered fans at the Vet.
McNabb entered the game to a rousing ovation on the first possession of the third. A sign that read ``Doug, it’s not personal. It’s business,″ was changed to ``Donovan McNow.″ It was a fruitless debut.
Late in the second quarter, Troy Vincent made a leaping interception of a deep pass from Dilfer intended for Yo Murphy and ran it back 26 yards to the Eagles 45. With boos engulfing Pederson, Philadelphia took over with two timeouts and 1:41 remaining.
Pederson made a 17-yard completion to tight end Luther Broughton on third-and-7, setting up a first down at the Tampa Bay 11. Having burned both timeouts, with 1:05 left and 53 seconds left, Pederson spiked the ball to stop the clock.
After an incomplete pass, Pederson hit Kevin Turner for 2 yards with 19 seconds left, making it fourth-and-8. Norm Johnson was slow getting onto the field and missed a 26-yard chip shot as time expired.
Dilfer capped an efficient opening drive with a 19-yard TD pass to Bert Emanuel, who shook off Al Harris. The Eagles cut it to 7-3 with a 39-yard field goal by Johnson.
Philadelphia cut it to 7-5 with a safety when Tony Mayberry’s bad snap on third-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 15 went out of the end zone. Martin Grammatica’s field goals of 51 and 24 yards in the second quarter made it 13-5.
The Eagles lost Hugh Douglas, their top pass-rusher who led them with 12 1/2 sacks last season, to a sprained left knee in the second quarter.