The Tampa Bay Buccaneers look ready to defend their crown.
Last year’s Super Bowl champions began their title defense with a dominant first half against the Philadelphia Eagles, jumping out to a 17-0 lead.
Scoring began on the Bucs’ first drive of the game. After starting right tackle Tristan Wirfs left with an ankle injury, Tampa Bay marched down the field in an impressive 12-play drive. Giovani Bernard capped it off with a two-yard rushing touchdown.
The Eagles went three-and-out on their first drive, which ended with Jordan Whitehead tackling Jalen Hurts for a three-yard loss.
Each side punted on their second possession, but the Bucs added to their 7-0 lead on their third drive of the game. On a four-minute, 10-play drive, Ke’Shawn Vaughn punched in a one-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Bucs tacked on three more points on Ryan Succop’s 34-yard field goal with 9:20 to play in the half.
Philly’s offense finally started moving midway through the second quarter. They converted a fourth down around midfield before failing to convert a fourth-and-10 try from the Bucs’ 37 yard line.
Wirfs returned for the Bucs’ penultimate drive of the half, but the team went three-and-out after protection issues. Tom Brady was sacked for a loss of nine yards as Wirfs again limped off the field, and Tampa Bay was forced to punt.
The Eagles appeared poised to get on the board during their final drive before halftime. After a 35-yard completion from Jalen Hurts to Quez Watkins, Philly was well within field goal range in the final minutes. Then, with 50 seconds to play, Hurts fired a pass toward DeVonta Smith at the goal line and was intercepted by Mike Edwards.
Brady finished the half 20 of 25 passing for 159 yards, but he was sacked three times. Ryan Kerrigan led the Eagles’ defense with two sacks, but the offense totaled just 118 yards.
Philadelphia will receive the ball to begin the third quarter as it looks to mount a comeback.