What We Learned

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2021 NFL season, Week 6: What we learned from Buccaneers' win over Eagles on Thursday night

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 · 5-1-0
Philadelphia Eagles
2021 · 2-4-0

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  1. Bucs play keep-away. If you’re in the time-of-possession-is-overrated camp, the Eagles defense doesn’t want to hear it. Who could blame any defense for being gassed after being forced to defend a Tom Brady offense for 21:05 of the first 30 minutes? The Eagles offense sputtered through five three-and-out possessions in the first half, leaving Philly defenders with barely enough time to re-tie their cleats on the sideline before being asked to take the field again. Not much changed in the second half. The final tally on TOP was positively brutal (39:56- 20:04), as was the Buccaneers’ first-down advantage (27-16). If there’s any justice, only the Eagles defense will get Friday off after the short week.
  2. Wings clipped, Eagles take to ground. Against the Bucs’ vaunted run defense, the Eagles didn’t bother trying to establish a rushing attack in the first half. In the second half, however, it was the running game that pulled Philadelphia within six points at 28-22. Miles Sanders ripped off runs of 23 and 14 yards on consecutive plays, and QB Jalen Hurts capped the drive with a 2-yard score. On a positively dismal passing night for Hurts (12 of 26, 115 yards), running the ball seemed like a last resort for the Eagles. They ended up more than doubling the Bucs’ average allowance of ground yards (45) with 100, split roughly evenly between Hurts and Sanders.
  3. Fournette on first. Leonard Fournette was a big part of the Buccaneers’ offensive success for the third week in a row. The game plan apparently sought to establish him on first downs -- he consistently set Brady up with manageable second downs and took handoffs to begin three of Tampa Bay’s first four possessions. Fournette (22 carries for 81 yards, two touchdowns) did most of his damage up the middle, breaking a 20-yarder through the A-gap early in the second half, and bulled his way to a pair of touchdowns. He can’t make anyone miss, but when Fournette’s offensive line gets enough push for him to play downhill, his power is effective. Throw in 46 receiving yards, and it was a stellar overall night for the big man in the Bucs backfield.
  4. Brady closes. How safe can a six-point lead be with 5:54 left in an NFL game? No safer than in Brady’s hands. On a night when the future Hall of Famer was his usual unstoppable self (34 of 42, 297 yards), there was hardly a shred of doubt that he’d either drive the field for a put-away score or move the chains well enough for the clock to bleed out. He went with the latter, though one more score could’ve easily been tacked on -- the Bucs kneeled out the final two minutes inside the Eagles 10-yard line. Although it was ultimately a one-score game, Brady parlayed ample time to throw into a dominant first half that foretold the outcome early; the game wasn’t as close as the scoreboard indicated.
  5. Snake-bitten secondary. The Buccaneers’ beleaguered secondary suffered yet another injury blow when cornerback Richard Sherman, signed less than three weeks ago, exited in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately for GM Jason Licht, there likely aren’t any more street free agents floating around with a five-Pro Bowl resume. Thursday night, Dee Delaney was latest next man up for the Bucs, but the timing was ideal for a career backup to be tested with 41 defensive snaps. With Hurts struggling mightily, there was no exposing Delaney. It’s a mad scramble in the Bucs secondary, but on this night, the problems went largely unnoticed.


Next Gen stat of the night: Despite his struggles, Hurts enjoyed a season-high 3.36 seconds to throw per pass, nearly half a second better than his 2.89 season average entering play.


NFL Research: Tom Brady is the first QB since 1970 to win 10 games played on three days of rest. He is now 10-1, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning (9-1) for the most wins since 1970 on three days of rest.


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