Eagles-Buccaneers, which carried the biggest point spread of the three NFC affairs, was predictably coma-inducing. The final score of 31-15 does not do this game's lopsidedness justice, as Tampa Bay entered the fourth quarter with a 31-0 lead. These Eagles deserved credit for making the playoffs in Nick Sirianni's first year, but we all knew they were not for real. After all, Philadelphia went 0-6 against playoff teams during the regular season.
BUT do not let that minimize the importance of the superior effort put forth by Bowles' defense. The Bucs pitched a shutout for three quarters. They forced three turnovers and held Philly to 6-for-17 on third / fourth down. The Eagles led the NFL in rushing during the regular season, having eclipsed 200 ground yards five times since Halloween. On Sunday, they could not even reach triple digits. Jalen Hurts just did not have a chance against Bowles' unit. It felt like last year's defense, which fueled the Bucs on a wild-card run to the Lombardi Trophy. And given how depleted the defending champs are on offense right now, there's no overstating the significance here.
Just a stellar job by a fine coach who deserves another opportunity in the big chair. I'd love to see the well-respected Bowles get a second crack at being an NFL head coach. And this time, unlike in New York, can we give the man a quarterback?