CNNSI.com NFL Playoffs 2001 NFL Playoffs 2001


 

NFL SCOREBOARD: Recap
Halftime Summary | This Week's Scoreboard
Philadelphia 31, Tampa Bay 9
Posted: Sunday January 13, 2002 12:03 AM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Related Info:
Team Page
City Page:
Tampa
Message Boards:
Buccaneers
NFL
 

Philadelphia Eagles
Related Info:
Team Page
City Page:
Philadelphia
Message Boards:
Eagles
NFL
 

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Get the dynamite. It may be time to blow up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For the second straight season, the Philadelphia Eagles rode big performances from Donovan McNabb and their defense to eliminate the Buccaneers with a dominant 31-9 victory in the NFC wild card round.

Labeled as perennial underachievers, the Buccaneers were in the postseason for the fourth time in the last five years under coach Tony Dungy, who has come under criticism for his club's playoff failures.

Dungy reportedly needed his team to advance deep into the playoffs to keep his job. According to reports that surfaced Friday, Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer already had a five-year deal for Bill Parcells to take over for Dungy.

Dungy did not want to look ahead, saying, "I'm not gonna speculate. We don't need a funeral here. To get into speculation is not the reason to be here."

The loss dropped the Bucs to 2-4 under Dungy in the playoffs, including 0-4 on the road. They have not scored a touchdown in their last three postseason games.

On Saturday, Dungy and his coaching staff had no answer for McNabb and the Eagles, who also eliminated the Bucs from the playoffs last December with an impressive 21-3 victory.

After that loss, star defensive tackle Warren Sapp said the Bucs needed to advance further in the playoffs this season or the star-studded team could be blown up.

McNabb completed 16-of-25 passes for 194 yards with two first-half touchdowns that helped the Eagles open a 17-9 lead. He also broke off a 39-yard run in the opening quarter that set up a short field goal by David Akers.

"We did an excellent job today," McNabb said. "I was able to get get out of the pocket a little bit and open things up for us."

In last season's playoff game, McNabb went 24-of-33 for 161 yards and two TDs while running for a score.

"We gave (McNabb) time to throw the ball and we had breakdowns downfield," Tampa Bay Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber said. "He is pretty tough. He made the plays to knock us out of the playoffs two years in a row."

The Eagles' defense, which features four Pro Bowlers -- two in the secondary, also was up to the task, intercepting Brad Johnson four times in the second half, including a 59-yard return for a TD by safety Damon Moore with just over two minutes remaining.

Philadelphia held Tampa Bay to 199 total yards in last season's playoff meeting.

Rookie Correll Buckhalter scored on a 25-yard run in the third quarter for the NFC East champion Eagles (12-5), who travel to Chicago next Saturday to meet the NFC Central champion Bears in the divisional round.

Johnson, who was suppossed to be the missing piece to the Bucs' playoff puzzle after signing a five-year, $28 million contract as a free agent, came up small in his biggest game. He finished 22-of-36 for 202 yards.

"It's tough when you end a season like this," Johnson said. "Today, we didn't get it done."

The Bucs also failed to generate a running game. Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott carried 12 times for 32 yards while Warrick Dunn had 11 attempts for 29 yards.

"We knew that they were a very good run team and I thought our defense stepped up," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "With the gang tackling the ball carriers, it didn't matter which one it was. We had four interceptions and it seemed like we had good pressure on the quarterback."

In seven second-half possessions, the Bucs had four turnovers and went three-and-out twice. Time expired the last time they had the ball.

"We made some adjustments. We got the lead and put them in passing situations," Eagles Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said.

Martin Gramatica kicked three field goals to account for the offense for Tampa Bay (9-8), which gained 101 of its 258 yards in the fourth quarter -- when the outcome was pretty much decided.

On Sunday, with both teams having clinched playoff berths, the Eagles closed the regular season with a 17-13 victory at Tampa Bay.

Things appeared to be breaking right for the Bucs, who headed into the contest with an 0-20 record when the game-time temperature is 40 degrees or colder. Game-time temperature on Saturday was 45 degrees.

And on the Eagles' opening possession, McNabb made a mistake on 3rd-and-9. After calling a timeout, McNabb was intercepted by safety Dexter Jackson, who returned it nine yards to the Philadelphia 36.

Johnson kept the short drive alive with a 13-yard completion to tight end Dave Moore on 3rd-and-4 to the 20. But the drive stalled and Gramatica kicked a 36-yard field goal to give the Bucs the early lead.

McNabb used his legs on the ensuing drive to make a huge play for the Eagles. On 3rd-and-5 from his own 39, McNabb bought time in the pocket, ran up the middle and cut to his right before being caught 39 yards later. A late hit by Jackson moved the ball to the 11.

But the Eagles gained just three yards on three plays before Akers, another Pro Bowler, converted from 26 yards.

McNabb's arm led the Eagles down field in the second quarter. He found speedster Todd Pinkston for 41 yards over the middle to the Tampa Bay 19.

Two plays later, McNabb scrambled right and used a pump fake before finding tight end Chad Lewis in the end zone in front of Jackson for a 16-yard touchdown and a 10-3 lead with 12:17 left in the half. McNabb was 4-of-4 for 70 yards on the five-play, 73-yard drive.

Boasting a defense with four Pro Bowlers, Tampa Bay allowed 190 of 334 total yards in the first half.

The Bucs answered that score with 10-play, 65-yard drive. But again, it stalled inside the 20 and Gramatica kicked a 32-yard field goal with 6:13 left before halftime.

Special teams helped the Eagles extend the lead later in the half. After a punt by Sean Landeta pinned the Bucs inside their own 5, Tampa Bay went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.

A 28-yard punt by Mark Royals put the Eagles at the Tampa Bay 31. McNabb kept alive the drive with a six-yard run on 3rd-and-5 to the 20.

Two plays later from the 23, McNabb found Duce Staley in the right flat with a screen pass. Staley used a convoy of blockers to make his way down the sideline before bouncing off Jackson inside the 5 and finding his way into the end zone, making it 17-6 with 35 seconds left in the half.

The Bucs made one of their few big plays offensively on their final drive of the half. Brad Johnson found Keyshawn Johnson over the middle for a 46-yard pass to the Philadelphia 12 with 21 seconds left.

Keyshawn Johnson, who also garnered Pro Bowl honors after leading the NFC with 106 receptions this season, finished with three catches for 75 yards.

"I'm disappointed in the way we played," Keyshawn Johnson said. "A lot of guys talked a good game, but they didn't go out there and play."

Tampa Bay moved inside the 10 and there was doubt if Gramatica could kick a field goal. Moments befor being called upon, television replays captured the energetic kicker appearing to injure himself on the sidelines.

But Gramatica, who missed the last two regular-season games with a hamstring injury, kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired.

Brad Johnson's mistakes started on the opening possession of the second half, when he was intercepted by Damon Moore at the Philadelphia 38.

Continuing to move the ball in the second half, the Eagles went 60 yards in six plays to extend the lead later in the third quarter. McNabb had a 21-yard completion to James Thrash to the Tampa Bay 29 on the drive.

Buckhalter, the Eagles fastest running back, capped the march by taking a handoff and racing up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown that made it 24-9 with 6:57 left in the quarter.

The 6-foot, 222-pound fourth-round pick out of Nebraska made a resounding statement on the run, bouncing off Jackson inside the 5 before falling backwards into the end zone for the score. Buckhalter carried nine times for 55 yards.

That lead was more than enough for the Eagles, who allowed the second-fewest points(208) in the NFL this season. Next week's opponent, the Bears, gave up the fewest (203).

Trying to lead his team back, Brad Johnson was intercepted by Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent, who made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone over Jacquez Green with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

Brad Johnson again led the Bucs into position in the fourth quarter before Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins came up with an interception at his own 3 with 5:34 left.

Moore capped the stellar defensive effort -- and the nightmare for Brad Johnson -- by bringing an interception back 59 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 2:17 remaining.

"We bent, but we didn't break," Damon Moore said. "I'm fortunate to play in a secondary with two Pro Bowlers."

 


 
CNNSI