For a few moments, the scoreboard made Eagles fans believe their Birds could do it. They could actually take on and take down the seemingly timeless Tom Brady, catching up and defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions. But the score line was deceptive, because time had run out on the Eagles comeback and Brady was a master at managing those last precious moments. He was too savvy to be careless with the ball and shepherded the win safely into the books for Tampa Bay.

Eagles fans were left with laments, wondering why the defense couldn’t hold off Brady’s passing better, wondering why the running game was woefully neglected until very late. There were also tantalizing moments when Jalen Hurts showed flashes of potential to be the top-tier quarterback that Brady has been for so long. But ultimately, Hurts’ performance wasn’t consistent enough to challenge the aged master, even if the final score, 28-22, made it seem close.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

» READ MORE: Sign up to have our Sports Daily newsletter delivered to your inbox every morning

Early Birds

It just doesn’t seem like things are working out between Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni. Yes, Hurts rallied the Eagles late, but it’s clear that there are throws that he hasn’t been making. It doesn’t help that Hurts’ strengths don’t go all that well with the dropback quarterback that Sirianni has found success with coaching.

The Eagles offense is ultimately far too inconsistent to be able to improve the team’s outlook. With Sirianni calling the plays and a run game that still hasn’t been used much, it’s hard to figure out an identity for the offense. Part of that is Hurts’ needing to get better. But Sirianni also needs to better adapt the offense to Hurts.

On defense, it was always going to be difficult to stop Brady, but the Buccaneers at times made it look too easy to march down the field. That’s on defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, whose scheme seemed to give Brady plenty of room to operate early on. By the time that was corrected, it was too late.

On the Fly

Christmas morning is finally here for you Flyers fans, as the boys return to the Wells Fargo Center ice tonight against the Vancouver Canucks (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia). The even better news is that after the Flyers opened in an empty building last season, a full capacity crowd will again be permitted.

But what should we make of the Flyers?

Well, after a disastrous 2021 season, the only real direction to go is up and GM Chuck Fletcher at least was proactive in trying to address the team’s biggest problem areas in the summer. New faces include Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam Atkinson, and Keith Yandle, although Ristolainen, unfortunately, will be unavailable for Friday due to injury.

Will the Flyers bounce back and erase the painful memories of last year? Our Sam Carchidi has everything you need to know ahead of Friday’s puck drop.

Next: The Flyers will play the second game of a season-opening four-game homestand on Monday against the expansion Seattle Kraken (7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia). The Kraken, coached by former Flyers boss Dave Hakstol, lost, 4-3, against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday in the franchise’s first game.

Off the Dribble

The 76ers continued to offer support for Ben Simmons on Thursday. Sixers managing partner Chris Harris spoke during the Financial Times’ Business of Sport U.S. Summit and revealed he is “super happy that Ben is back” despite the three-time All-Star’s asking for a trade and sitting out for a two-week holdout, during which he missed training camp and several preseason games.

Simmons could even rejoin his teammates once he passes the league’s COVID-19 restrictions. Of course, this all rests on where Simmons stands on the Sixers. His trade request hasn’t been rescinded, and he hasn’t spoken publicly since his team lost in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Next: The Sixers play the Pistons on Friday in their final preseason game. Philly is on the road in Detroit, which will provide a homecoming of sorts for Andre Drummond, who played seven seasons and earned two All-Star selections there.

Fleet Street

Look out, Premier League — Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo are coming for the top of the table. Also worth viewing are the numerous games involving young American players, now that U.S. men’s national team fans can breathe a sigh of relief over the 2-1 comeback win Wednesday night over Costa Rica. We’re tracking NWSL action, too, as Carli Lloyd and Gotham FC make a run for the playoffs. Finally, you might have the proper sneakers for the drip, but do you have the hottest club jersey?

Worth a look

  • Faked injuries? Franklin says not so: Penn State coach James Franklin again refuted allegations from Iowa fans that his players faked injuries. He spoke for more than five minutes about Hawkeyes fans booing injured Nittany Lions players. One of those booed, defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, is out for the season.

  • A Philly boxing history lesson: J Russell Peltz has seen just about everything in Philadelphia boxing: the good, bad and ugly. So he decided to document that history in a book. He wrote Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye, including 57 chapters and a half-century’s worth of boxing memories.

  • Do the Owls have a QB? Temple’s offense has struggled, but D’Wan Mathis has shown the potential to be the long-term solution at quarterback.