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By ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001
PHILADELPHIA -- The reputation of the Bucs defense may intimidate some offenses, but it served to inspire the Philadelphia defense.
"All year long we felt like we had a pretty good defense, and coming into the game, all you heard was Tampa Bay Bucs defense, Tampa Bay Bucs defense," cornerback Bobby Taylor said. "They have a very talented defense, but at the same time, we read a lot of things, and a lot of writers here locally didn't think we had a chance. They never thought we could even get to the playoffs.
"So we just use that as fuel to our fire, to keep working hard to have some positive things happen for us."
Former Bucs cornerback Al Harris said that all the talk of Tampa Bay's defense was like a bowl of confidence to him and his teammates. And they ate as much as they could.
"We've been feeding ourselves confidence all week, and I think we were just full, full of confidence, and it showed out there," Harris said.
The result was one of the worst performances of the year for the Bucs offense. Tampa Bay was held to 199 yards total offense, including 50 rushing, its poorest ground effort of the season.
The Bucs had a modicum of success early, moving into position for a Martin Gramatica field goal in the second quarter. But six minutes later, Hugh Douglas' sack-fumble on quarterback Shaun King turned the game in Philadelphia's favor. Douglas blew through Warrick Dunn, who said Mike Alstott was supposed to be in the game blocking, and forced King to fumble.
The Eagles scored on the ensuing possession and never looked back.
"I think they tried to block him with Warrick Dunn, which is stupid," linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "It had to be a missed assignment or something. (Douglas) made them pay. When you make silly mistakes like that, you have to pay for it."
Most Eagles said the key was paying close attention to Dunn and forcing King to beat them. The plan worked, with Dunn gaining 1 yard on eight carries and 28 on five receptions.
"We knew if we could get in a situation where he had to beat us throwing the ball, the odds were heavily in our favor," Trotter said of King. "Tampa Bay wins games running the ball. They're not going to beat a lot of teams by passing the ball."