With WR Mike Williams inactive with a sore hamstring, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed another dependable target to emerge opposite Vincent Jackson.
Enter Tim Wright.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie tight end entered the game with six catches for 47 yards, and the Bucs lacked a presence in the middle of the field. But on Sunday, Wright complemented Jackson with seven receptions for 91 yards. On a day free-agent TE Tom Crabtree returned from a high ankle sprain to make his regular-season debut with the Bucs, it was Wright who provided rookie QB Mike Glennon with a safety valve.
“We had some tight ends go down,’’ Wright said. “I had to step up and do what I had to do. I had to use my ability, what I came here for, and go out and execute my job.’’
Crabtree played primarily in short-yardage situations and failed to catch the one ball thrown his way.
Slight improvement for offensive line
Tampa Bay’s struggling offensive line displayed a little more physicality, affording Mike Glennon decent protection most of the day against the league’s 31st-ranked defense. Doug Martin averaged 4.2 yards on his 16 carries, but the Bucs rushed for only 94 yards and have dropped 20 of their past 21 games when failing to reach the century mark on the ground.
With Carl Nicks inactive due to a recurrence of an MRSA staph infection, LG Ted Larsen filled in and went the entire way.
“How did we do up front? Not good enough,’’ Larsen said. “It’s never good enough, especially when you lose. Put it this way, it wasn’t enough to get us the win.’’
C Jeremy Zuttah had a tough day, with a pair of holding penalties in the second half.
Martin averaged only 3.2 yards per carry in the first four games, but found a few cracks Sunday, adding four catches for 24 yards.
“I thought the guys up front did a good job of staying on their blocks,’’ Martin said. “It’s a little unbelievable to be 0-5. I’ve never been 0-5 in my life and, believe me, it’s not a good feeling.’’
If Nick Foles faced Tampa Bay’s defense every week, he might be bound for the Hall of Fame. Philadelphia’s second-year quarterback owns two NFL wins, both against the Bucs, and the Eagles might have a tough decision to make under center when Michael Vick returns from a hamstring injury.
“We’ll evaluate everything,’’ said Eagles coach Chip Kelly after Foles torched the Bucs for 296 yards and three touchdowns, posting a spectacular passer rating of 133.3. “I thought Nick did a really good job. He ran our offense and did a good job spreading the ball around. I’m really, really happy with how he played today.’’
Foles rallied the Eagles past the Bucs 23-21 last year. In two games against Tampa Bay, he has accounted for 677 yards of offense, throwing for five touchdowns and running for two scores while throwing zero interceptions.
As part of their weekend breast cancer awareness activities, the Bucs announced a donation of $30,000 that will benefit the American Cancer Society, Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation and Moffitt Cancer Center.
The team also hosted its inaugural Treasure Chests 5k Run/Walk prior to the game. More than 1,300 participants took part in the race, which was held around the grounds of Raymond James Stadium. Top finishers included Matthew Adkins (16:34, Male), Jackie Watchel (17:27, Female), Larry Smith (16:40, Master’s Male) and Alex Gemma (20:32, Master’s Female).
Pre-registered participants received a reduced-price ticket to Sunday’s game, along with an event T-shirt and a microchipped race bib. Each registration also included a donation to breast cancer research.
Former Clearwater Central Catholic star and ex-Gator Riley Cooper caught four passes for 120 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown — his biggest game of the season.
“Some guys would get upset for not getting the ball, but I’m not a very selfish person,” said Cooper, who entered the game with eight catches for 93 yards and one touchdown. “I just want to win games. Like I keep saying, everyone’s time is going to come, and today I got a few looks and a couple plays. It’s just a new offense.”
In the fourth quarter, Cooper turned a short pass from QB Nick Foles into a 44-yard gain to help set up a touchdown.
Bucs WR Jeff Demps, a world-class sprinter who joined the team after the start of the regular season, left the game with a groin injury. He caught one pass for 10 yards prior to the injury. ... Bucs C Jeremy Zuttah left the game in the fourth quarter, though the extent of his injury was uncertain.
The Eagles are the fourth team in NFL history to top 400 yards in each of its first six games, joining the 2013 Broncos, the 2007 Patriots and the 1983 Chargers. ... A 79-yard march capped by Vincent Jackson’s 1-yard catch late in the opening half marked Tampa Bay’s longest TD drive of the season. ... Eric Page’s 40-yard punt return set up a 24-yard scoring strike to Jackson. “It was a great call and the guys in front of me did a great job,’’ said Page, a first-year WR out of Toledo. “All I had to do was run straight.’’ ...The Eagles converted half of their 14 third-down situations.