If Carson Wentz is really going to make his 2018 debut next Sunday, as some reports indicate, he's going to need a lot more help than what the Eagles provided Nick Foles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Foles had little to work with after left tackle Jason Peters, wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Jay Ajayi all left with injuries in the first quarter (Ajayi returned to start the third quarter).
Still, the Eagles nearly pulled it off, behind a gutsy performance from Foles, who went 34 of 47 for 339 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Nelson Agholor, whose 2-yard touchdown reception with 2:46 left brought the Eagles back from a 20-point deficit to within six.
But the Eagles couldn't get the ball back until 19 seconds remained, backed up at their 10-yard line, and that wasn't enough in their 27-21 loss Sunday.
Agholor finished with 8 catches for 95 yards and a TD.
The Eagles couldn't stop Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who twice threw 75-yard touchdown passes — the first to ex-Eagle DeSean Jackson on the first play of the game. Fitzpatrick went 27 of 33 for 402 yards and 4 TDs, his second straight week throwing for at least 400 yards and 4 TDs.
Still, the Eagles had a chance to get back in the game with a makeshift wide receiver unit of Agholor, Kamar Aiken, who just signed last week, and either Shelton Gibson or DeAndre Carter.
Malcolm Jenkins stripped the ball away from Bucs tight end O.J. Howard after a reception early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles down by 14.
But the Eagles faced a fourth-and-10 at the Bucs' 35. Foles, with no one open, tried scrambling around to find a receiver before heaving the ball toward Corey Clement near the end zone.
Clement collided with Agholor and a Bucs defender and stayed down for a few minutes before getting up. Agholor was down, too, but he got up and stayed in the game.
Fitzpatrick, filling in for suspended Jameis Winston, was simply too much. Just like last week, he had one TD throw to each of his wide receivers, including Middletown High School and Penn State star Chris Godwin.
Godwin finished with five catches for 56 yards. It's his third straight game with a TD catch going back to the final game last season.
Often, the Eagles (1-1) couldn't get out of their own way, especially in the first quarter.
On the Eagles' first series on offense, Ajayi left with a back injury after a 7-yard loss — he was tackled by former Eagle Vinny Curry. Later in the quarter, Wallace made his first catch as an Eagle, but that play was negated by a penalty. Even worse, Wallace hurt his ankle and was carted off the field.
At some point in the quarter, left tackle Jason Peters left with a quad injury. He didn't return.
The Eagles were also affected by penalties. On one sequence in the first quarter, they had three straight called on them, setting up a third-and-41 from their 14. They didn't convert.
Foles also lost a fumble.
Despite all of that, the Eagles only trailed 7-0 after the first quarter. They even tied the game after a long 13-play drive that took up 6 minutes, 9 seconds on Corey Clement's 15-yard run.
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That euphoria lasted all of one play as Fitzpatrick connected with O.J. Howard on a 75-yard TD. Jordan Hicks dove for the ball on a medium-range pass over the middle. Howard kept going and eluded Ronald Darby and went down the sideline.
The Bucs made it 20-7 on Godwin's 8-yard reception with 42 seconds left in the half. Somehow, the Eagles got to within field-goal range with a few seconds left, but Jake Elliott's 42-yard attempt clanged off the right upright.
The Bucs seemed to be in control after Mike Evan's 4-yard TD with 9:19 left in the third quarter, set up by Jackson's 28-yard reception.
But the Eagles didn't wilt in the heat.
Ajayi's 2-yard TD run made it 27-14, then Agholor scored from 2 yards out on fourth down with 2:46 left.
Just like that, the Eagles were within six.
But they couldn't get the ball back.
Contact Martin Frank at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
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