TAMPA, Fla. — The Philadelphia Eagles’ revamped defensive line came through when it counted against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Under the guidance of new defensive-line coach Tommy Brasher, the front four helped the defense turn in a pivotal stand late in the fourth quarter of a 23-21 victory over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
“I’ve always said that it starts up front,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “I thought the defensive line did a nice job. They played well.”
Brasher, who coached the defensive line from 1999-2005, returned to the team last week after Reid fired Jim Washburn.
The defense struggled at times against the Buccaneers, allowing rookie running back Doug Martin to rush for 128 yards and a touchdown. But the Eagles pulled together near the end of the game, which led to Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles’ game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on the final play.
The Eagles trailed 21-16 when the Bucs’ offense took the field with 3 minutes, 55 seconds left in regulation. A couple of first downs would have been enough for them to run out the clock and give the Eagles their ninth straight loss.
But after Martin gained 11 yards on the first play, the Eagles stopped them. Linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks held Martin to 3 yards. After a holding penalty on Tampa, safety Nate Allen tackled Martin after a 9-yard gain and then rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox stuffed him at the line of scrimmage to force a punt.
“We bowed up when we needed to bow up,” defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said.
The Eagles pulled a surprise on defense by benching outside linebacker Akeem Jordan in favor of Jamar Chaney and moving Kendricks.
Chaney started at strongside linebacker and Kendricks moved to the weakside spot for the first time this season.
“We had Kendricks on the strongside because of his coverage ability, but he’s more comfortable at the weakside,” Reid said. “We wanted to give Jamar an opportunity and he played well.”
Kendricks, a rookie second-round draft pick, tied Ryans for the team lead in tackles with seven, including one for a loss. Chaney added four tackles and a pass defense.
Inside the numbers
Alex Henery extended his own Eagles record by making his 22nd straight field goal in the second quarter but later missed back-to-back attempts. ... Foles’ 10-yard touchdown run was the first TD run by an Eagles rookie quarterback since John Reaves in 1972. ... The Eagles have won four games by two points or fewer this season, which is a team record. ... Wide receiver Marvin McNutt and linebacker Ryan Rau made their NFL debuts, becoming the 14th and 15th Eagles to do so this season.
Bumps and bruises
Eagles tight end Brent Celek suffered a concussion on the first offensive play of the game and did not return.
Celek was hit after catching a 1-yard pass.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha suffered a sprained neck and bruised thigh in the second quarter but returned for the second half.
The Eagles (4-9) don’t have much time to celebrate. They will face Cincinnati (7-6) on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Manhawkin native and Southern Regional High School graduate Clark Harris is the Bengals’ long-snapper.
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