Deja Vicius

For Eagles fans, 2003 began as 2002 ended. A devastating loss at home, in what was supposed to be a celebration of their new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, affectionately known as "the Linc."

Both teams began the game with a three-and-out. On their second possession, the Eagles were able to drive and had first and goal on the Bucs one-yard-line following a pass interference penalty called against safety John Lynch in the end zone. Unable to move the ball after three tries, the Eagles line up for an apparent 19-yard field goal. A fake field goal resulted in an incomplete pass from Ty Detmer to tight end L. J. Smith.

The Bucs were unable to move the ball in their next possession, and the two teams went back and forth in a defensive struggle.

After Jermaine Phillips tipped a Dirk Johnson punt that managed to travel just seven yards, the Bucs took over with great field possession. After moving the ball inside the Eagles five-yard line, the Bucs were unable to punch it into the end zone, and had to settle for a 23 yard Martin Gramatica field goal.

Neither team was able to gain much yardage the rest of the half as punters Johnson and Tom Tupa got a workout. The Bucs last first half possession resulted in a pass that was intercepted by veteran cornerback Troy Vincent. The two teams went into the locker room with the Bucs holding a 3-0 edge.

Each team's first possession in the second half resulted in punts. The Bucs next drive was a well designed twelve play, 80-yard masterpiece that chewed off more than seven minutes off the clock. The drive opened with passes to receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Joe Jurevicius, each for more than ten yards. Twice, fullback Mike Alstott kept the drive alive with third down rushes to gain first downs. With second and nine from the Eagles 13, quarterback Brad Johnson threw a corner pass to Jurevicius in the end zone. Eagles coach Andy Reid challenged the call, but the replay showed Jurevicius did an excellent job keeping his feet inbounds, and the Bucs took a 10-0 lead.

The Eagles were halted again in their next drive as quarterback Donovan McNabb three four incomplete passes. The only play resulting in forward progress was a 25 yard scamper by running back Duce Staley. The Bucs took over after yet another Dirk Johnson punt.

As if engineering a sequel to their last drive, the Bucs put together another long, time consuming drive. Brad Johnson was outstanding, completing six of six passes in the drive, including a fourteen yard toss to tight end Warren Sapp. Yes, you read that correctly. The big fellow lined up at tight end, received a pass for the first time in his career and rumbled for fourteen yards, even breaking a tackle along the way. Three plays later Jurevicius made another outstanding play in the end zone to give the Bucs a 17-0 lead. In a play that is sure to make the highlight reels, Jurevicius tipped the ball into the air just before crossing the goal line and managed to scoop it up for the touchdown.

The next Eagles drive resulted in a McNabb pass that was intercepted by defensive tackle Anthony McFarland. The Bucs took to the ground game to run time off the clock, and punted the ball back to the Eagles with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

Looking at an inevitable loss, McNabb took the field for what would be the Eagles last drive, with his only hope being that of trying to avoid the shut out in the Linc's debut. He was efficient, completing five of seven passes, and running for thirteen yards on the drive. With first down at the Bucs 29 yard line, and just three seconds remaining in the game, McNabb completed a pass up the middle to Duce Staley. But, before Staley could scamper into the end zone, Bucs defensive tackle Chartric Darby knocked the ball loose, and it was recovered by linebacker Nate Webster to seal the shutout. A fitting end to a well played game for the defending world champions.

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