Fitzpatrick shines again, Buccaneers stun Eagles 27-21
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Courtesy of DeSean Jackson, Ryan Fitzpatrick rocked a pair of sunglasses and a partially zipped warmup jacket revealing a couple of gold chains and a large pendant resting on his chest.
“It’s nothing,” the Tampa Bay quarterback said of the garb after throwing four touchdown passes and topping 400 yards for the second straight week, leading the Buccaneers to a 27-21 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
“I think we just have to stay humble,” Fitzpatrick added, a smile crossing his face. “We’ve got to make sure we know how to handle success and all those things. We can’t change who we are.”
Filling in for suspended quarterback Jameis Winston, Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards and has the suddenly explosive Bucs off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2010.
Jackson scored on a 75-yard reception on the first play of the game, giving him three TDs in two games after having three all last season.
O.J. Howard also had a 75-yard TD catch in the first half for Tampa Bay, which stunned New Orleans 48-40 on the road in its season opener.
“I think we just developed a lot of confidence in the offseason and through training camp with how we worked, and the way things were going, and the rapport with the guys,” the 35-year-old Fitzpatrick said. “I think that confidence has carried over into the season.”
Nick Foles threw for 334 yards for the Eagles (1-1), who rallied from a 20-point, third-quarter deficit.
The Super Bowl MVP’s 2-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor on fourth down trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 27-21 with 2:46 remaining. Fitzpatrick didn’t give the Eagles’ injury-decimated offense a chance to finish the comeback.
“We didn’t win every single game last year. I think people forget that,” Foles said, trying to put the loss in perspective. “There’s a lot of expectations for us, but we can’t put that kind of pressure on ourselves.”
Fitzpatrick, a 14-year veteran and one of four players in NFL history to throw TD passes for seven franchises, produced a couple first downs on Tampa Bay’s last possession to drain all but 19 seconds off the clock.
“We had our shots. I just feel like if we had got that ball back one more time, we would have a chance to try to win it,” Eagles tackle Jason Peters said. “But we were pinned back there with 20 seconds left and we didn’t have a lot of options.”
Chris Godwin and Mike Evans had TD receptions of 8 and 4 yards, respectively, for the Bucs. Jackson, who had two TD receptions before leaving the season opener with a concussion, finished with four catches for 129 yards.
The Eagles opened the season with Foles throwing for just 117 yards in an 18-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
They drove 78 yards in 13 plays to pull even with Tampa Bay in the second quarter, only to watch Howard turn a short pass into another long TD by eluding two defenders and turning up the left sideline. Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby was unable to chase down the 6-foot-6, 251-pound tight end.
Fitzpatrick threw for a career-best 417 yards and four TDs in the season opener. He also ran for a touchdown against the Saints, meaning he’s thrown for 819 yards and accounted for nine TDs in two weeks. He improved to 4-1 as a starter in two seasons with the Bucs.
Philadelphia’s defense, coming off sacking Matt Ryan four times and holding the Falcons quarterback to his lowest completion percentage in seven years, was torched for 271 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half alone.
Eagles: The Eagles were already without receiver Alshon Jeffery and running back Darren Sproles, and Foles’ job got tougher when running back Jay Ajayi (back), receiver Mike Wallace (ankle) and tackle Jason Peters (quad) left in the first half. Ajayi returned at the start of the second half, finishing with 23 yards rushing on seven carries.
Buccaneers: With Brent Grimes (groin) missing his second straight game and Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder) on injured reserve after getting hurt at New Orleans, the Bucs played without both starting cornerbacks. Defensive tackle Beau Allen (foot) and safety Chris Conte (knee) left the game in the second half.
The Bucs, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, are 2-0 for only the second time in 13 years. They also won their first two on the way to a 10-6 finish under former coach Raheem Morris in 2010.
Eagles: Host Indianapolis next Sunday.
Buccaneers: Pittsburgh at home next Monday night, final game of Winston’s suspension.