Eagles Win to Reach .500, Foles Shines
TAMPA, Fla. — With a confident Nick Foles leading the way, throwing for three touchdowns and running for a fourth, Philadelphia’s fast-paced offense was hard to stop.
Foles finished a long first-quarter scoring drive with a 4-run and threw scoring passes of 12 and 36 yards to DeSean Jackson to lead the Eagles to a 31-20 victory over the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys can match Philadelphia’s three wins with victory over the Washington Redskins Sunday night.
With the injured Michael Vick active but not playing, Foles made his seventh career start and beat the Bucs (0-5) for the second time. He was 1-5 as a rookie a year ago, with that victory also coming on the road at Tampa Bay.
But unlike last December, the second-year pro didn’t have to throw a last-second TD pass for the win. He gave the Eagles (3-3) the lead for good with a 47-yard scoring pass to Riley Cooper, then gave his team breathing room with his second TD pass to Jackson.
Foles completed 22 of 31 passes for 296 yards and no interceptions. NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy gained 116 yards on 25 attempts, and Cooper finished with four receptions for 120 yards.
In addition to playing through a messy split with Josh Freeman, the Bucs also have been dealing with three members of the team being diagnosed with MRSA, a staph infection that’s resistant to many common antibiotics.
Rookie Mike Glennon threw for 273 yards, including TD passes of 1 and 24 yards to Vincent Jackson in his second start for Tampa Bay, which benched Freeman before later releasing the 2009 first-round draft pick during the team’s bye week. Jackson had nine catches for 114 yards, and Tim Wright had seven for 91 yards.
The Bucs played without receiver Mike Williams, who was inactive with a sore hamstring.
The Eagles won their second in a row to climb back to .500. Tampa Bay, which began with expectations of contending for their first playoff berth since 2007, have dropped 10 of 11 games dating to last season.
The team announced Thursday that guard Carl Nicks, who along with kicker Lawrence Tynes was diagnosed with MRSA in August, is being treated for a recurrence on an infection in his left foot. By the end of the day, a third player — rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks — was diagnosed with MRSA.
Nicks was inactive Sunday, however Banks was cleared to play, with the league and NFL Players Association saying a joint statement that a medical specialist met with the Bucs, supervised the inspection of the team’s facilities, conducted medical examinations and agreed with the Tampa Bay medical staff that Banks did not pose a risk of transmission to other players.
Foles made his seventh start in place of Vick, who was active but did not play after being injured during last week’s victory over the New York Giants. Foles led an eight-play, 85-yard TD drive on Philadelphia’s first possession, opening the game with a short pass that McCoy turned into a 44-yard completion.
The Eagles drove 54 yards in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead when Foles found Jackson running across the back of the end zone in front of cornerback Darrelle Revis for a 12-yard touchdown.
Glennon took advantage of short fields to produce Tampa Bay’s first 10 points. Revis forced McCoy to fumble at the end of a 13-yard run and recovered at the Eagles 40 to set up Rian Lindell’s 38-yard field goal. Eric Page’s 40-yard punt return to the Philadelphia 39 led to Jackson’s first TD catch.