PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 31 -- Donovan McNabb employed a short passing game to beffudle Tampa Bay's normally stingy defense Sunday and Hugh Douglas turned the game around by forcing a second-quarter fumble, boosting the Philadelphia Eagles to their first playoff win in five years with a 21-3 decision over the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay's reputation for being unable to win in cold weather was once again upheld as the Buccaneers' offense was shut down and their defense was unable to deal with McNabb, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
For the 20th time in their history, the Buccaneers played a game in temperatures below 40 degrees. Tampa Bay has lost all 20 of those games. The mercury was barely above the freezing mark when the game started.
Philadelphia, which put together a surprisng 10-6 regular-season record under second-year coach Andy Reid, will play in the divisional round next Sunday against NFC East rival New York. The Giants beat the Eagles in both meetings this season.
"We love being the underdogs. We love when people say we can't go out and win," McNabb said. "I think we opened up some eyes again this week."
"Compliments to our defense," Reid said. "That's a great job. They all stepped up. Hugh Douglas, I've got to point him out, the way he rushed the passer."
Tampa Bay owned a 3-0 lead in the second period and it appeared the first half would end that way. But a critical Buccaneers turnover ignited the Eagles, who scored twice in the final 3:21 of the first half to take control.
Tampa Bay had a third down situation, needing 19 yards from its own 25 with four minutes to play in the first half, when quarterback Shaun King was sacked by Douglas. The resulting fumble was recovered by Mike Mamula at the Buccaneers' 15.
"I think momentum shifted to our favor at that point, but I couldn't have done that if the secondary wasn't back there doing their job," Douglas said. "(King) patted the ball a few times before he let it go, so you have to take your hat off to our secondary and linebackers."
After the fumble, McNabb scrambled for 10 yards on first down and, three plays later, scored on quarterback draw from five yards out to put Philadelphia in front.
Following the kickoff, the Eagles quickly forced a Tampa Bay punt and Philadelphia took over at its own 31 with 1:43 to play in the half. McNabb completed five of six passes on a drive that ended with a five-yard scoring toss to Na Brown with 12 seconds remaining.
Philadelphia then broke Tampa Bay's back by taking the second half kickoff and running 7:44 off the clock while driving from its own 23 to the Buccaneers' 19.
Although David Akers missed a field goal attempt at the end of that possession, Tampa Bay went three and out and the Eagles proceeded to march 57 yards and score on a two-yard throw from McNabb to tight end Jeff Thomason.
It was the Eagles' first win in the post-season since they defeated Detroit in a wild-card game at the end of the 1995 season. Philadelphia lost to Dallas the next weekend in the divisional round.
"It's always tough after a loss, especially when you finish the year like this," Bucs coach Tony Dungy said. "Philadelphia really outplayed us today. We said coming in that they were one of the best defenses we've seen. We played Buffalo and Miami, who both have outstanding defenses. I'd put them right up there with those two as the top defenses that we've seen this year."
McNabb accounted for 85 percent of Philadelphia's offense in the month of December and he was the leading rusher on his team for the year. Instead of using his scrambling ability, however, McNabb hurt Tampa Bay with his short passes that took the place of five-yard runs.
McNabb threw 33 passes and completed 24 of them for 160 yards. His lone interception came in the fourth quarter at his own 47, but the Buccaneers could not even manage a first down after creating the turnover.
The Eagles also got a lift from Chris Warren, who gained 86 yards on 22 carries with most of that coming in the second half. Warren was picked up by the Eagles earlier this month after the Dallas Cowboys had cut him for missing meetings.
"I thought I would be watching the playoffs today," Warren said. "It feels good to be on a team with a lot of energy and confidence along with a great coaching staff."
Tampa Bay (10-7) gained only 50 yards on the ground while King was 17 of 31 for 172 yards.
Philadelphia's victory completed a sweep of the weekend's four wild-card playoff games by the home teams. That is the first time that has happened since the playoffs were expanded in 1990.