Opportunity knocked twice for Jeremy Maclin, and both times the Eagles wide receiver greeted opportunity with arms stretched wide.
Like the many passes thrown in his direction, Maclin did not drop his chances.
Opportunity No. 1 came when an injured Kevin Curtis was held out for the second straight game and Maclin started. Opportunity No. 2 came because No. 1 receiver DeSean Jackson was double covered for most of yesterday's game.
Maclin did not disappoint, making a team-high six receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles coasted past the Buccaneers, 33-14, at Lincoln Financial Field. Maclin and quarterback Donovan McNabb hooked up for two long scores: a 51-yard strike - Maclin's first touchdown as a professional - that opened the scoring and a 40-yard touchdown that gave the Birds a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Maclin's 142-yard receiving total was the third highest for an Eagles rookie, behind Don Looney's 180 yards in 1940 and Hank Baskett's 177 in 2006. Maclin was miffed, however, when he muffed a late would-be TD pass from Michael Vick.
"It's definitely a confidence-booster," Maclin said of his performance. "I think I was pretty confident. It's just having faith in yourself. . . . I'm a little disappointed I didn't make the last play. That's the kind of person I am."
Eagles coach Andy Reid decided last week that no matter the condition of Curtis' left knee, Maclin would start. The rookie took that nod as a sign the job was his to lose.
"We'll see," Reid said when asked if Maclin was now the permanent starter. "It was a great job by Jeremy. It's great to have two players that we know can play that well."
It's great for a team to have two starting receivers who can draw the sort of attention that opens up space for the other. Jackson, who entered the game among the league leaders in receiving yards, was held without a catch for most of the game.
The Bucs' defense played him inside-out, and he finished with just one reception for 1 yard.
Jackson may benefit from Maclin's strong day.
"Teams now have to pay attention to him," McNabb said of Maclin. "Now it's not just drop back and throw it to one guy. We've got four or five guys that can make plays for us."
Jackson, who also got his chance when Curtis was injured last season, showed that a rookie can succeed with the Eagles, and Maclin now appears to be quite the catch.
Jackson "proved everyone wrong that a rookie wide receiver can't play well," Maclin said. "That makes it easier, but you still have to have the skills to do it."
You also have to have something upstairs. There was a lot of off-season clamoring for the Eagles to trade for disgruntled Cardinals veteran Anquan Boldin - and Reid did talk to Arizona about a possible trade - but the team ended up drafting Maclin in the first round. Even though he wasn't versed in the West Coast offense as Jackson was in college, Maclin was an apt pupil.
"From Day 1 - even through his [holdout] - he was a businessman," Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "He carried himself well. I love people that are seen and not heard."
Even if Curtis returns to reclaim his starting spot, defenses will likely have to stop Maclin. The Eagles envisioned Maclin and Jackson as their future receiving tandem.
"Why the future?" Maclin said. "We can do it now."