Eagles 17

(11-5, 7-1 away)

Buccaneers 13

(9-7, 5-3 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, January 6, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
PHI 0 3 0 1417
TB 3 10 0 013

Eagles erase 13-3 hole in first-round preview

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get to see who wins when it really matters.

The first-round playoff opponents closed the regular season against each other Sunday night, with the Eagles coming from behind to win 17-13 as both teams rested most of their starters.

Third-stringer A.J. Feeley threw two touchdown passes to Dameane Douglas in a 26-second span of the fourth quarter to bring Philadelphia back from a 13-3 deficit.

The Eagles (11-5) and Bucs (9-7) will meet again next Saturday in a rematch of the NFC wild-card game that the Eagles won 21-3 in Philadelphia last season.

"We have something to prove to ourselves," Buccaneers Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber said. "We went up there and got embarrassed last year. That's the bottom line. We didn't get it done."

Feeley threw a 2-yard TD pass to Douglas with 2:12 remaining, and Rashard Cook recovered Karl Williams' fumble at the Tampa Bay 24 on the ensuing kickoff.

Two plays later, Douglas scored again on a 24-yard play.

"Everybody was talking about this being a meaningless game, but it wasn't meaningless for the guys who played," Eagles safety Brian Dawkins said. "They practice every day. ... It was great to let them have a chance to show what they can do."

Tampa Bay marched into Philadelphia territory in the final 1:46, but Shaun King's desperation pass fell incomplete short of the end zone as time expired.

"When you're a winner, it doesn't matter what you're doing. You could be playing marbles, Nintendo, whatever -- you want to win," Bucs defensive end Steve White said.

"I don't care if people call this a meaningless game. I was out there at the end of the game trying to make sure they didn't score. It means something when you're a winner."

Aaron Stecker scored on a 4-yard run and Doug Brien kicked field goals of 42 and 23 yards for the Bucs, who won five of their previous six to grab the final NFC wild-card spot.

With playoff seedings and next week's NFC matchups already determined, neither team had anything to gain by playing their starters in the nationally televised game.

The Eagles clinched their first NFC East title since 1988 last week and approached the finale the way teams normally treat the preseason. Donovan McNabb appeared for two plays, and Feeley was on the field by the end.

Seven Philadelphia regulars -- running back Duce Staley, defensive end Hugh Douglas, cornerback Troy Vincent, left tackle Tra Thomas, receiver James Thrash, tight end Chad Lewis and safety Brian Dawkins -- were declared inactive.

Five others, including offensive linemen John Welbourn, Hank Fraley and Jermaine Mayberry, didn't start.

Tampa Bay played without receiver Keyshawn Johnson, running back Warrick Dunn, defensive end Marcus Jones and kicker Martin Gramatica, who sat out for the second straight week with a strained hamstring.

The Bucs, however, did begin the game with nine of 11 starters on defense. Not that they got much of a feel for what to expect from McNabb next week.

The Eagles quarterback trotted off after handing off twice to Correll Buckhalter and was replaced by Koy Detmer, who was 5-of-14 for 51 yards and one interception.

Philadelphia threatened twice in the second quarter after having the ball for just 2:40 of the opening quarter, gaining 5 yards before Tampa Bay removed its first-team defense.

David Akers made a 47-yard field goal, trimming the Bucs' lead to 10-3, after earlier missing a 34-yarder that hit the upright.

Brad Johnson started at quarterback for Tampa Bay and played one series, directing a 62-yard drive that produced Brien's first field goal. He was replaced by King, who used John Lynch's interception to set up Stecker's touchdown run for a 10-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

Brien's second field goal made it 13-3 at the half. It remained that way until Feeley threw his first TD pass.

"I know it wasn't the No. 1 guys on their team, but I wanted to go out and play well," Feeley said. "A lot of people said this was like a preseason game, but it was nice to have an opportunity to go out and play."

Game notes
Keyshawn Johnson's streak of 88 consecutive regular-season starts ended. He hadn't missed a game since 1996 when he sat out two after having arthroscopic knee surgery when he was a rookie with the New York Jets ... Buchalter rushed for 89 yards on 20 carries ... Brad Johnson started all 16 games in a season for just the second time in his 10-year career.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 2 plays, 24 yds, 0:06
Drive info: 2 plays, 24 yds, 0:06
tbTD15:00Aaron Stecker, 4 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 27 yds, 13:33
Drive info: 5 plays, 27 yds, 13:33
tbFG10:18Doug Brien 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 62 yds, 5:12
Drive info: 8 plays, 61 yds, 2:31
Drive info: 8 plays, 61 yds, 2:31
phiFG6:47David Akers 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 24 yds, 5:01
tbFG0:25Doug Brien 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 64 yds, 5:05