It was closer than a lot of people expected it to be. But it was still a loss.

The Eagles spotted the Tampa Bat Buccaneers a 21-point lead, then rallied to close to within six. But it was too late, and Tom Brady and the Bucs left Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night with a 28-22 win.

Moral victory keeping it close? Nope. Because maybe with some decent play calling, the result would have been different.

The loss dropped the Eagles down to 2-6.

Here’s three takeaways.

Hurts continues struggles, Sirianni blows play calling

This is two games in a row now that Jalen Hurts was ineffective throwing the football, and again the blame goes equally with head coach Nick Sirianni’s aimless play calling and Hurts’ own struggles. Sirianni just doesn’t have the ability right now to consistently call plays that give Hurts a chance to get into a rhythm, and Hurts for the second straight week missed too many open guys.

This is the worst pass defense in the NFL — allowing 314 yards per game — and Hurts just wasn’t able to take advantage.

He was 12-for-26 for 115 yards, one TD, one INT and a 55.8 passer rating.

Yes, he can make some incredible plays with his legs, and his running and scrambling late in games has gotten the Eagles back into two games they trailed by double digits. But until he evolves as a passer it’s going to be very difficult for the Eagles to win many games.

He’s not seeing the field, he’s not making smart decisions under pressure, and he’s just flat-out missing open guys. Other than a 25-yarder to DeVonta Smith, a 24-yarder to Quez Watkins, and a 16-yarder to Zach Ertz, he didn’t have a completion longer than six yards Thursday.

He has to be better.

And Sirianni does too.

I can’t help believing Sirianni needs to hang it up play calling and hand the job to someone else, at least for a few weeks so he can step back and regroup as a play caller.

There’s a lot of talent on this offense, but it’s being largely wasted.

Sirianni just has no flair for this. No idea how to keep a defense guessing. Nothing inventive or creative.

The offense seems to be chuck it deep and hope for pass interference or let Hurts take off. There’s no shame in stepping away from play calling. Andy Reid did it a few times. He said it gave the offense a fresh perspective — which the Eagles desperately need — and also allowed him to focus on other aspects of being a head coach on game day.

Yeah, the Eagles got rolling at the end of the last two games, but it’s too little too late. 

And it was incredible to see Miles Sanders rolling in the fourth quarter.

Finally. After getting just four carries in the first three quarters, he was 5-for-50 in the fourth quarter. The Bucs have the best rushing defense but they couldn’t stop him. Because he’s a really, really talented running back, and the only person in the stadium that doesn’t seem to realize it is Sirianni. Until it’s too late.

How on Earth do you ignore this kid week after week until the final minutes? This is two weeks in a row that Sanders was the Eagles’ biggest weapon at the end of the game after being ignored most of the day.

Sanders had one carry in the first half, when the Bucs rolled out to a 21-7 lead. Imagine if he got the ball earlier? Different game. 

Don’t give up on the defense

I’m still not ready to give up on this defense. It might sound ridiculous after they allowed 28 points, but they actually played well after those first two quick Tampa touchdowns, allowing 14 points on Tampa’s last nine drives and at least keeping the team in the game.

As the game went on, they began covering, tackling, and pressuring better. After playing 35 minutes on Sunday, they played 40 minutes Thursday night.

If your offense is so bad you have to play 40 minutes against Tom Brady and you allow 28 points, hey, it could have been a lot worse.

The Eagles have allowed 104 points to Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Brady and 39 points to Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Sam Darnold.

The schedule gets easier now, and I want to see how they defend some teams that don’t have world-class offenses. I think they’re going to be ok.

Good night for discipline, then the down fall at the end

The Eagles were doing so well Thursday night with discipline.

The league’s most penalized team had just two penalties through 54 minutes.

Then, with the Buccaneers’ lead down to just six, the Eagles gaining momentum and the crowd finally charged up, Genard Avery was penalized for taunting. That’s 15 yards. Taunting? Really? With six minutes left in a one-possession game against the Super Bowl champs?

It was a questionable call, but still.

The Bucs ran out the clock.

The lack of discipline this team continues to show is inexcusable.