Kelly outsmarts Bucs on 4th down

Posted: October 15, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. - The Eagles held an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter when they had fourth and 1 from the Buccaneers' 17-yard line. Instead of sending his field-goal unit onto the field, coach Chip Kelly kept his offense out for the fourth down. The ball was snapped and Foles had appeared to be sacked, but a flag was thrown before the play. And that was exactly Kelly's plan.

"We were just trying to draw them offsides, and it worked," Kelly said. "We were going to kick a field goal in that situation, you want to make it a two-score game, but if we could extend the clock a bit . . ."

The Eagles took the 5-yard penalty, had a new set of downs, and ran three more plays while making Tampa Bay use all its timeouts. Then the Eagles kicked a 24-yard field goal.

"That was the most important thing to us," Kelly said. "If you can go up 11, and we did, but can you go up 11 and bleed a little more off the clock?"

Barbre backs up Peters

When Jason Peters briefly left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury, Allen Barbre came in at left tackle to replace him. The Eagles had spent time in training camp and the preseason preparing Lane Johnson to play left tackle if Peters was hurt, but the Eagles apparently prefer Barbre in that role rather than disrupting the entire line.

"In practice, he gets most of the left-tackle reps," Johnson said. "I don't get many."

Jackson's return chance

DeSean Jackson had a chance at a punt return in the second quarter. The Buccaneers punted the ball away from him and it went out of bounds after 45 yards. That was Jackson's only opportunity in the game.

Damaris Johnson had two punt returns and averaged 71/2 yards. He also fair-caught one, and one punt was downed. The punt to Jackson was the only one that went out of bounds.

Red-zone upgrade

The Eagles improved their red-zone efficiency, going 2 for 3. The one they missed came late in the game when they were running the ball to force Tampa Bay to use timeouts.

The red zone has been an issue for the Eagles all season, and Kelly has insisted the team needs seven and not three points. They succeeded with that against the Buccaneers. They were 1 for 1 in goal-to-go situations and are 66.6 percent with goal-to-go.

Running late

The Eagles were more effective on the ground in the first half, gaining 4.8 yards per carry, with LeSean McCoy picking up 6 yards a tote before the break.

But when the Birds offense needed to kill the clock in the fourth quarter, Chip Kelly effectively burned time on the ground with an unbalanced line. He has shown this look virtually every game this season, and for the most part it has thrown defenses off.

Against Tampa Bay, the unbalanced line - left tackle Peters was lined up outside right tackle Johnson on the right flank - allowed McCoy (25 carries for 116 yards) and Bryce Brown (four carries for 20 yards) to gain some tough yards.

"It creates some different matchup problems," Kelly said.

Bucs' longest drive

The defense couldn't stop the driving Bucs on a 16-play, 90-yard possession that started late in the third quarter and carried over into the fourth.

At some point, cornerback Cary Williams left the field with cramps and Roc Carmichael was called on to replace him outside in the nickel.

The first time Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon threw at Carmichael he was called for pass interference that advanced the Bucs to the Eagles 9. Two plays later, with the 5-foot-9 Brandon Boykin outside instead of Carmichael, Glennon tossed a fade to the 6-foot-5 Vincent Jackson in the corner of the end zone. But Glennon overshot his receiver.

Then on third down, Glennon tried to squeeze a pass to tight end Tim Wright in between safety Earl Wolff and Carmichael, but they broke up the throw and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal.

Key third downs

Earlier in their 16-play, eight-minute drive, the Bucs kept converting on third down - third and 9, third and 9, and then third and 5.

Wolff had good coverage on Wright on the first conversion, but the tight end made an impressive catch. On the second, the Eagles sent the house, but Glennon had protection and hit Jackson 24 yards downfield with corner Bradley Fletcher covering. Four plays later, Wright, who finished with seven catches for 91 yards, found a hole over the middle for 16 yards.

But the fourth third-down try - in which Wolff and Carmichael broke up the throw to Wright - was a charm for the Eagles. The Bucs failed to convert on their four final third downs and finished 6 of 15 overall.

Jones plays defense

It delayed the inevitable - Tampa Bay scoring a touchdown - but Eagles punter Donnie Jones accomplished what kicker Alex Henery has failed at this season: tackling an opposing returner who was one Eagle away from scoring a touchdown.

In the first quarter, Bucs returner Eric Page found a crease and gobbled up 40 yards before Jones angled him to the sideline and dropped him. Jones has been dealing with a bruised left foot - his kicking foot. He showed it to a reporter after the game and it was colored nearly every shade of purple.

Jones finished with five punts for an average of 49.8 yards, including three inside the 20 and one that was downed at the 1-yard line.

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