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Soaring Eagles
McNabb, defense stifle sluggish Tampa Bay

Sunday December 31, 2000 7:23 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- The temperature was 34, and the wind chill was just 11.
If those numbers didn't numb the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Eagles' No. 5 surely did.

Donovan McNabb ran for a touchdown and threw for two more, leading the Philadelphia Eagles to 33-17 victory against Tampa Bay in an NFC wild-card game Sunday, sending them on to the Metrodome to play the Minnesota Vikings next weekend.

"You either have it or you don't," Brian Mitchell, Philadelphia's veteran running back, said of the runner-up for the NFL's MVP award. "He has more ability than any quarterback I've ever seen."

It was a landmark win for Philadelphia, which was 8-24 the previous two years and 5-11 last season after using the second overall pick in the draft to take McNabb.

But it was also a landmark game for the Philadelphia defense that came in overshadowed by Tampa Bay's fabled unit, but allowed the Bucs just 144 yards in the first three quarters and slammed the door on the Bucs in the 4th quarter, with an interception early in the game that led to the Eagles final field goal, and a forced fumble to end the Bucs’ final drive.

That's been the Philadelphia formula: defense and Donovan.
"They just outplayed us a bunch," said Derrick Brooks, the Bucs' all-Pro linebacker.

For the Bucs, who hoped to become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, it was a disappointing end to a 10-7 season that started with title hopes.

It also continued a string that has plagued them even as they became one of the NFC's best teams: They're now 0-20 when game-time temperatures were under 40 degrees, including three losses this season.

McNabb, runner-up to Marshall Faulk for the NFL's MVP award, played much of the game as if the weather was balmy. He finished 18-of-33 for 234 yards and ran for a 5 yard touchdown in the 1st quarter to open the scoring for Philadelphia, and they never looked back. McNabb was at his best hitting receivers downfield, throwing three passes over 30 yards on the day, and spreading the ball around to 6 different receivers when the deep passes weren’t open.

With neither team moving the ball well in the first quarter, the Eagles took the ball on their third possession of the game, McNabb saw the free safety Robinson creeping towards the line of scrimmage, and hit Torrence Small over the top for 59 yards, and their first first down of the day that didn’t come from a penalty. The next play he dumped it off to Staley for an 11 yard gain, setting up 1st and goal from the 5. 2 incompletions later, McNabb took the handoff and ran around the left end of the line, making it to the end zone before getting pushed out of bounds for the Eagles’ first score.

The score started some momentum for the Eagles on offense, as the next two drives culminated in field goals, stretching the lead to 13-0 before the Bucs even managed a first down. The Eagles were driving down the field again, when McNabb lost a fumble after a one yard run. Chidi Ahonotu stripped the ball and fell on it to give the Bucs a chance to stay in the game. The Bucs looked like they had another three and out after recovering the fumble, but a 5 yard offsides foul gave the Bucs a first down, and new life. The Eagles continued to be penalized on this drive, as they were penalized 3 times for 30 yards on the drive. Shawn King then hit Keyshawn Johnson deep for a 31 yard touchdown pass that cut the Eagles’ lead to 13-7.

The Eagles didn’t slow down, though, as their next drive culminated in a 2 yard touchdown pass to halfback Darnell Autry, and the Eagles regained their 13 point lead, 20-7. The Bucs got a 48 yard kickoff return following the touchdown that set them up for a 43 yard field goal by Martin Gramatica as the first half expired, with the Bucs trailing 20-10.
The 2nd half started with another quick strike by the Eagles, as it took the Eagles just 3 plays to go 69 yards for the score, with McNabb connecting with Charles Johnson for 55 yards on 2nd and 10, and then a 14 yard strike to halfback Darnell Autry for his 2nd receiving touchdown of the day, stretching the lead to a commanding 27-10.

The defense forced another three and out for the Bucs, before McNabb drove the Eagles down the field again. This time, though, McNabb made a mistake, throwing for the endzone on 3rd and 9 from the 15 yard line, and throwing an interception to Donnie Abraham, who returned it to the line of scrimmage.

The Bucs took advantage of the mistake, and the Eagles had another personal foul on the ensuing drive that eventually led to a touchdown. Shawn King threw a 30 yard pass to Warrick Dunn that got the ball to the Philadelphia 4 yard line, and Mike Alstott rumbled in for the touchdown to cut the score to 27-17, with 1:27 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
This was the last time the Bucs would score any points, though
The next time the Bucs had the ball, they shot theirselves in the foot with an offensive pass interference penalty turning a 3rd and short into a 2nd and long situation, and a holding call on 3rd and long forced them into a punting situation. The Eagles took 5 minutes off the clock with the following drive, and kicked another field goal to make it 30-17.
The very next play sealed the game for the Eagles, as Shawn King threw the ball deep, and Bobby Taylor took the ball away from Jaquez Green to intercept it, and then returned the ball to the Tampa Bay 33 yard line, and set up David Akers for his 4th field goal of the day.

The win by the Eagles sends them to Minnesota next week to play the 11-5 Vikings. The two teams seem to be heading in separate directions, with the Eagles having won 7 of their last 8 games, while the Vikings have lost their last three games, after starting the season 11-2.

“We feel we’re peaking at the right time.” Douglas said. “We’re going to be ready for them.”

Notes: The Eagles' last playoff win had been five years and one day ago, 58-37 against Detroit. ... McNabb, who has started just 22 NFL games, was the youngest quarterback, at 24, ever to start a playoff game for Philadelphia. ... The Buccaneers have never won a game when the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff.


Philadelphia 33, Tampa Bay 17

PLAYOFFS 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Philadelphia 7 13 7 6 33 FINAL
Tampa Bay 0 10 7 0 17

SCORING SUMMARY
First Quarter
PHILADELPHIA – TOUCHDOWN

Play: Donovan Mcnabb 5 Yard Run (David Akers Kick)
PHILADELPHIA 7-0

Second Quarter
PHILADELPHIA - FIELD GOAL

Play: David Akers 42 yard
PHILADELPHIA 10-0

PHILADELPHIA - FIELD GOAL
Play: David Akers 34 yard
PHILADELPHIA 13-0

TAMPA BAY - TOUCHDOWN
Play: Play: Keyshawn Johnson 31 Yard Pass From Shawn King (Martin Gramatica Kick)
PHILADELPHIA 13-7

PHILADELPHIA - TOUCHDOWN
Play: Darnell Autry 2 Yard Pass From Donovan Mcnabb (David Akers Kick)
PHILADELPHIA 20-7

TAMPA BAY - FIELD GOAL
Play: Martin Gramatica 43 yard
PHILADELPHIA 20-10

Third Quarter

PHILADELPHIA - TOUCHDOWN (14:06)

Play: Darnell Autry 14 Yard Pass From Donovan Mcnabb (David Akers Kick)
Drive: 3 plays, 69 yards in 0:54
Key Plays:
• McNabb 55 yard pass to Johnson to Tampa Bay 14
PHILADELPHIA 27-10

TAMPA BAY - TOUCHDOWN (1:27)
Play: Mike Alstott 4 Yard Run (Martin Grammatica Kick)
Drive: 9 plays, 85 yards in 4:55
Key Plays:
• Abraham interception of McNabb to Tampa Bay 15
• Dunn 6 yard run on 3rd and 5 to Tampa Bay 26
• King 16 yard pass to Johnson to Tampa Bay 42
• 15 yard personal foul penalty to Philadelphia 42
• King 30 yard pass to Dunn on 3rd and 2 to Philadelphia 4
PHILADELPHIA 27-17

Fourth Quarter

PHILADELPHIA - FIELD GOAL (6:22)

Play: David Akers 25 yard
Drive: 9 plays, 44 yards in 4:59
Key Plays:
• McNabb 32 yard pass to Johnson on 3rd and 9 to Tampa Bay 19
• Staley 14-yard run to Tampa Bay 37
• Robinson 9 yard sack of McNabb to Tampa Bay 15
PHILADELPHIA 30-17

PHILADELPHIA - FIELD GOAL (4:30)
Play: David Akers 45 yard
Drive: 4 plays, 7 yards in 1:40
Key Plays:
• Taylor Interception of King to Tampa Bay 33
PHILADELPHIA 33-17

Officials: Referee-Mike Carey, Umpire-Garth Defelice, Head linesman-Dale Williams, Line judge-Walt Anderson, Field judge-Bill Lovett, Side judge-Tom Hill, Back judge-Bob Lawing.
Attendence: 65,813
Time: 3:07


Philadelphia (12-5, 1-0 postseason)
TOTAL NET YARDS 321
Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 56
Average Gain per Offensive Play 5.7
NET YARDS RUSHING 87
Total Rushing Plays 25
Average Gain per Rushing Play 3.5
NET YARDS PASSING 234
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 3 - 25
Gross Yards Passing 259
PASS COMP-ATT-INT 18 – 31 - 1
Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 6.9
KICKOFFS (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 8 - 2 – 2
PUNTS (Number-Average) 3 – 39.0
Blocked 0
Net Punting Average 37.3
FGs BLOCKED - PATs BLOCKED 0 - 0
TOTAL RETURN YARDAGE (excludes Kickoffs) 65
Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 1 - 45
Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 4 - 87
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 1 - 20
PENALTIES (Number-Yards) 9 - 85
FUMBLES (Number-Lost) 1 - 1
TOUCHDOWNS 3
Rushing 1
Passing 2
Interceptions 0
Kickoff Returns 0
Fumble Returns 0
Punt Returns 0
EXTRA POINTS (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3
Kicking (Made-Attempted) 3 - 3
Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 - 0
FIELD GOALS (Made-Attempted) 4 – 4
SAFETIES 0
FINAL SCORE 33


Total
Philadelphia

Passing CP/Att Yds TD Int Rat
D. McNabb 18/31 234 2 1 89.1

Rushing Att Yds TD Long
D. Staley 9 57 0 15
D. Autry 5 18 0 7
D. McNabb 8 10 1 5
S. Pritchett 3 2 0 2

Receiving Rec Yds TD Long
C. Johnson 2 87 0 55
T. Small 3 68 0 55
D. Staley: 4 39 0 12
C. Lewis 3 25 0 11
D. Autry 3 22 2 14
S. Pritchett 2 18 0 11

Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
D. McNabb 1 1 0 0
Damon Moore 0 0 1 0

Kicking FG Long XP Pts
D. Akers 4/4 45 3/3 15

Punting No Avg I20 Lg
S. Landeta 3 39.0 1 44

Kickoff Returns No Avg TD Lg
Mitchell 4 21.8 0 26

Punt Returns No Avg TD Lg
Mitchell 1 45.0 0 45

Defense Sacks Yds FF Int Ret Yds
H. Douglas 1 -5 0 0 0
B. Taylor 0 0 0 1 20
M. Mamula 1 -7 0 0 0
D. Moore 0 0 1 0 0


Tampa Bay (10-7, 0-1 postseason)
TOTAL NET YARDS 203
Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 52
Average Gain per Offensive Play 3.9
NET YARDS RUSHING 79
Total Rushing Plays 26
Average Gain per Rushing Play 3.0
NET YARDS PASSING 124
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 2 - 12
Gross Yards Passing 136
PASS COMP-ATT-INT 12 – 24 - 1
Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 4.8
KICKOFFS (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 4 - 0 – 0
PUNTS (Number-Average) 8 – 36.3
Blocked 0
Net Punting Average 30.6
FGs BLOCKED - PATs BLOCKED 0 - 0
TOTAL RETURN YARDAGE (excludes Kickoffs) 20
Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 3 - 5
Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 6 - 146
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 1 - 15
PENALTIES (Number-Yards) 7 - 52
FUMBLES (Number-Lost) 1 - 1
TOUCHDOWNS 2
Rushing 1
Passing 1
Interceptions 0
Kickoff Returns 0
Fumble Returns 0
Punt Returns 0
EXTRA POINTS (Made-Attempted) 2 – 2
Kicking (Made-Attempted) 2 – 2
Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
FIELD GOALS (Made-Attempted) 1 – 1
SAFETIES 0
FINAL SCORE 17



Total
Tampa Bay

Passing CP/Att Yds TD Int Rat
S. King 12/24 124 1 1 61.8

Rushing Att Yds TD Long
W. Dunn 19 59 0 8
M. Alstott 5 7 1 4
S. King 2 13 0 9

Receiving Rec Yds TD Long
W. Dunn 5 56 0 30
K. Johnson 3 55 1 31
Dave Moore 3 25 0 13

Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
Dave Moore 1 1 0 0
C. Ahanotu 0 0 1 0

Kicking FG Long XP Pts
M.Gramatica 1/1 43 2/2 5

Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Royals 8 36.3 1 45

Kickoff Returns No Avg TD Lg
A. Stecker 4 19.3 0 24
K. Williams 2 34.5 0 48

Punt Returns No Avg TD Lg
K. Williams 3 1.7 0 3

Defense Sacks Yds FF Int Ret Yds
W. Sapp 1 -9 0 0 0
Abraham 0 0 0 1 15
M. Jones 1 -7 0 0 0
Robinson 1 -9 0 0 0
C. Ahanotu 0 0 1 0 0

Play notes: Philadelphia won the original matchup 21-3. This was the third game in replaying the 2000 NFL playoffs.
2000 playoffs:
Wildcard round
AFC
#3 Miami(11-5) 20
#6 Indianapolis (10-6) 23

#4 – Baltimore (12-4)
#5 – Denver (11-5)

NFC
#3 - NO Saints (10-6) 21
#6 - St. Louis (10-6) 22

#4 – Philadelphia (11-5) 33
#5 - Tampa Bay (10-6) 17

Divisional Round
AFC
#1 – Tennessee (13-3)
#6 – Indianapolis (11-6)

#2 – Oakland (12-4)
Baltimore/Denver

NFC
#1 - NY Giants (12-4)
#6 – St.Louis (11-6)

#2 – Minnesota (11-5)
#4 – Philadelphia (12-5)

Note - I borrowed heavily from the actual writeup of the game on si.com for the main part of the session report.
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