By Sam Bush
The lame-ass Philly media tried to convince you that the Eagles being quarterbacked by Mark Sanchez would be no different than injured Sam Bradford.
So much for the conventional wisdom.
Jameis Winston (above) tied a rookie record with five touchdown passes, Doug Martin ran for 235 yards and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Eagles 45-17 on Sunday.
The Eagles (4-6) have lost two in a row, but are only one game behind the New York Giants (5-5) in the mediocre NFC East.
Sanchez threw a pair of TD passes and three interceptions in his first start replacing injured Sam Bradford, but Chip Kelly’s offense couldn’t keep up with Winston and the Buccaneers.
“We didn’t play well in any facet of the game and there’s no excuse for that,” said Kelly, whose team has a short week and plays Thanksgiving Day at Detroit.
“I ain’t going to cry, but this is a dream come true for me,” Winston said. “I always wanted to play here, ever since I was a little boy. I always wanted to be an Eagle. I was even singing the fight song on the sideline. It was a special day for me.”
Winston completed 19 of 29 passes for 246 yards and had four of his TD passes in the first half to four different receivers. He tied the rookie mark in the third quarter on an 8-yard toss to Cameron Brate, the fifth receiver to catch a TD. Winston kept that drive going by smartly throwing an incomplete pass with his left hand on second-and-16 to avoid a sack.
“We are watching a young quarterback grow before our eyes,” Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans said.
Martin had 177 yards in the first half, including runs of 84 and 58 yards. He finished 2 yards short of tying Barry Sanders’ record for most without a TD. Sanders had 237 for the Lions against Tampa Bay in 1994.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Martin, who rushed for 251 yards against Oakland during his rookie season, became just the third player to twice rush for at least 235 yards in a game since the NFL-AFL merger, joining Corey Dillon and O.J. Simpson.
The Bucs set a franchise record with 283 yards rushing, and their 521 total yards were second-most in franchise history in the regular season (573 in 1980).
The Buccaneers (5-5) have won two straight games for the first time in two years, and the 45 points were the team’s most in a game since the 2001 season.
“We’ve talked a lot about being relevant again,” Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said. “Well, we’re relevant again.”
Winston and the Buccaneers were outstanding on third downs, converting 9 of 12 while building a 35-14 lead. Winston’s last three TD passes came on third downs.
After an offside penalty on Brandon Graham gave Tampa another chance on third down in the first quarter, Martin broke free for 58 yards. Winston then tossed a 4-yard pass to Evans to tie it 7-7.
Winston threw a 17-yard screen pass to Charles Sims on third-and-6 to extend another drive, hit Evans for 25 yards and connected with Vincent Jackson over the middle for a 13-yard TD on the first play of the second quarter.
Martin later burst up the middle for 84 yards to the 1. On third down from the 4, Winston found Russell Shepard in the back of the end zone for a 21-7 lead.
The Eagles answered quickly as Sanchez hit Darren Sproles for a 35-yard TD on a screen pass. But the Buccaneers came right back. Martin ran for 3 yards on fourth-and-1 and Winston tossed a 14-yard pass to Sims for a 28-14 lead.
Winston’s pass to Brate made it 35-14. Lavonte David returned an interception 20 yards for a TD to cap the scoring.
It was the ninth time in Sanchez’s career that he threw three interceptions in a game.
The Eagles got a break after DeMarco Murray fumbled on the third play from scrimmage. Jacquies Smith recovered but was stripped by Zach Ertz and Philadelphia got the ball back at its 14.
That gave the Eagles more takeaways by their offense in the past two games than by their defense.