Down 28-7, the Philadelphia Eagles had all the momentum after scoring 15 unanswered points in their Thursday night game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With 5:54 left and two timeouts still in coach Nick Sirianni’s back pocket, it looked as if the Eagles would get a chance to complete the comeback as long as their defense could come up with a third-down stop.
The Eagles’ defense appeared to limit Leonard Fournette to a 2-yard gain on first down. But the officials deemed that defensive end Genard Avery taunted Fournette after he and cornerback Steven Nelson forced him out of bounds. Avery went face to face with Fournette before the two players exchanged light contact with each other as both players came back onto the field of play. The 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the Buccaneers’ 42-yard line. Brady then proceeded to complete passes of 10 and 27 yards to Antonio Brown before his sneak produced the game-clinching first down.
The penalty drew the ire of Eagles fans, as the ones inside Lincoln Financial Field made their feelings known shortly after the flag was thrown. Former quarterback and Fox play-by-play announcer Troy Aikman was also caught off guard by the penalty.
“I know that’s a point of emphasis and everyone’s been talking about it, but that’s a penalty?” Aikman asked his audience.
While the penalty didn’t help, it wasn’t the primary reason why the Eagles fell short of an upset. The Eagles’ defense never found an answer for Brown, who finished the night with 93 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. They also had no answer for Fournette, who tallied 127 total yards and two touchdowns. Philadelphia’s offense continued to steer away from running back Miles Sanders, who had just 11 touches. The Eagles also missed a field goal at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Eagles played gamely against the defending champions, but they ultimately lost and are still in search of their first home win of the 2021 season.