For the first 45 minutes, Tampa bullied Philly and jumped out to a 28-7 lead before some questionable offensive play calls and defensive lapses allowed the Eagles a last-minute gasp. That said, they regrouped in the final 5 minutes to clip the underdog’s wings and assume the victory formation within the 10 yard line for the second consecutive week.
While the offense left some points on the board, there were still multiple standouts throughout the evening. Despite the late blundering, the defense largely controlled the game as well.
Offensive Top Performer: RB Leonard Fournette
Lenny looks to have finally found his groove as this team’s lead back, putting together his third straight game with 100+ yards from scrimmage. Fournette touched the ball 28 times for 127 yards (81 rushing, 46 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns.
He looks the most confident he’s been as a runner and receiver since arriving in Tampa, being decisive and assertive while remaining consistently focused. When the offense is as balanced as it was Thursday, its true potential is unlocked. Its first three scoring drives were crisp and efficient, and the Eagles offered little to no resistance.
For honorable mentions, Antonio Brown once again served as the main driver of the receiving game, compiling 9 catches for 93 yards and a score. One of those catches — a twisting snag in traffic — essentially put the game away late. Love him or hate him as a person, Brown’s been indispensable to this unit.
O.J. Howard also gets one for his best performance of the year. Six catches for 49 yards and score took pressure of the receivers and kept the offense diversified.
The offensive line played bully ball all night long, keeping Brady clean and blowing open holes for the run game. They answered the call.
Defensive Top Performer: CB Jamel Dean
Dean gets a lot of heat, which is rightfully earned now and then, but tonight he played exceptionally well when the banged-up secondary needed him most — especially with Richard Sherman going down early with a hamstring injury.
Subtract the early defensive pass interference on a difficult underthrown deep ball and Dean recorded his second interception in as many games to go along with multiple pass deflections. He prevented big plays, and it was the type of game the rest of the defense can rally around.
In that vein, Ross Cockrell also gets props. He nearly had a pick six on a screen pass to put the game away and made some other nice plays on the ball.
We also honor the entire front seven, as they largely controlled the line of scrimmage and got good pressure on Jalen Hurts. Shaq Barrett in particular played like a wild man, as he showed up while in coverage, defending the run, and rushing the passer. Vita Vea continues to be an immovable object and even tallied a sack!
Special Teams Top Performer: WR Jaydon Mickens
Look, not a lot happened on special teams, but we have to give some love to Mickens. This dude ran laterally for nearly 50 yards just to gain 4 yards on a punt return. That was performance art in its purest form and should be properly acknowledged.
He posted a nice 12-yard return as well as no negative plays. Good enough for me.