The Eagles got the loss they needed this afternoon as the Bucs fell to the Chargers, 41-24, in Tampa. So what does it mean? Win out and you’re in. That’s right. The Birds control their own destiny. A win today against the Redskins and a victory next week against the Cowboys, and the Eagles will earn a wild-card berth.
Now if the Eagles lose today, they still have a shot to get in. They would have to beat the Cowboys next week, hope the Bucs lose to the Raiders and get a loss from the Bears in one of their final two games.
The Eagles would also get in if they lose today, win next week, the Falcons lose their remaining two games AND the Bears lose one of their final two. Atlanta plays the Vikings today at 4:15 and the Rams in Week 17. The Bears play the Packers on Monday night and the Texans next week.
As for the Cowboys, they need a win next week and one loss from either the Falcons or Bucs the rest of the way.
Earlier I provided updates during the Bucs-Chargers game.
Chargers 41, Bucs 24
The Chargers' Antoine Cason intercepted Jeff Garcia in the fourth quarter and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown to take a 41-24 lead with three minutes left in the game. What does this mean for the Eagles if San Diego holds on? Win out and you're in. I'll explain more shortly.
Chargers 34, Bucs 24
Talk about a game of swings. After Tampa Bay scored 14 straight to take a 24-20 lead, the Chargers have responded with two touchdowns of their own. Philip Rivers threw his fourth touchdown of the day, a 32-yard pass to Darren Sproles with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter to give the Chargers a 34-24 lead. There is under six minutes left in the game.
Chargers 27, Bucs 24
A few hours ago, when I decided to provide updates on this game, I figured there'd be a score here and a score there. But I haven't left the laptop since. The latest score was a Philip Rivers TD pass to Antonio Gates from 5 yards out. The Chargers responded to 14 straight Tampa Bay points to regain the lead at 27-24 at the start of the fourth quarter. It seems like a wildly entertaining game, but if you're in Philly, you are instead being treated to a 41-0 pounding in New England. I don't know all the rules in terms of when TV is allowed to switch games, but it would seem to make sense for Fox to do so here.
Bucs 24, Chargers 20
Things are going downhill fast if you're an Eagles or Cowboys fan. Jeff Garcia rolled to his right, just avoided a sack and hit wide receiver Antonio Bryant for a 71-yard bomb with 5:19 left in the third quarter. The Bucs have their first lead of the game at 24-20 and have scored 14 unanswered points to start the second half. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, it was Tampa Bay's longest play from scrimmage this season, and ex-Eagle Clinton Hart (who we talked about earlier when he recovered a fumble) had primary responsibility on the play.
Chargers 20, Bucs 17
Jeff Garcia and the Bucs' offense went 78 yards on 13 plays on the opening possession of the second half, taking 7:19 off the clock to cut San Diego's lead to 20-17. Garcia ran in the touchdown from 7 yards out. He is Tampa Bay's leading rusher with 38 yards. Why do I get the feeling this one is going to come down to the final two minutes?
Chargers 20, Bucs 10
The scoring is coming in fast and furious in Tampa Bay. The Bucs ran their 2-minute drill with 1:56 left in the half to get into field-goal range and cut San Diego's lead to 17-10 with a 49-yarder from Matt Bryant.
The Chargers' offense took over at its own 36-yard line after a 28-yard kickoff return from Darren Sproles with 21 seconds left in the half. Two plays and 25 yards later, Nate Kaeding nailed a 57-yard field goal attempt to give the Chargers a 20-10 lead. It was a career long for him and a Chargers team record, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
I'm sure at least some of you are reminded of Bryant hitting a 62-yarder as time ran out in 2006 to give the Bucs a 23-21 win against the Eagles.
Chargers 17, Bucs 7
Another Chargers drive, another score. This time, the San Diego offense went 75 yards on 12 plays before picking up a 28-yard field goal from Nate Kaeding with 5:37 left in the first half. The Bucs have just 61 yards of total offense. Philip Rivers has thrown for 176 yards and a pair of scores. LaDainian Tomlinson has 12 carries for 49 yards.
Chargers 14, Bucs 7
The Chargers have taken the lead back in Tampa. San Diego went 69 yards on seven plays, and Philip Rivers hit Antonio Gates for a 15-yard TD with 13:37 left in the second quarter. Rivers has completed nine of 11 passes for 108 yards and a pair of scores.
Bucs 7, Chargers 7
Good news and bad news so far in Tampa for Eagles fans.
The good news was that the Chargers got on the board first with a Philip Rivers 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Manumaleuna to take a 7-0 lead. The play was set up when ex-Eagle Clinton Hart recovered a fumble by Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant.
The bad news is that Tampa Bay's Clifton Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards, and the Bucs scored on a 1-yard run by B.J. Askew. With time winding down in the first, it's a 7-7 game.