The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first playoff victory since the 2002 season on Saturday night when they defeated the Washington Football Team 31-23 at FedEx Field in the wild card game.
Tom Brady was solid against Washington. The 43-year-old Brady went 22-of-40 for 381 yards and two touchdowns. His 381 passing yards set a new single-game franchise postseason record. The postseason win was the 31st of Brady’s NFL career, which are the most playoff wins by any player in league history.
“I think it’s good to win and advance,” Brady said after the game. “If we don’t play well next week, we’re not going to be happy. [I’m] glad we won [and] glad we have another week of work. We’re going to go in there and try to do a much better job this week and get ready for whoever our opponent is – it’s going to be a good one. We’re going to have to go play great football.”
According to Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate, who caught four passes for 80 yards – the second-most receiving yards by a tight end in Buccaneers playoff history, Tampa Bay did not play their best football on Saturday, but he’s happy to get the victory.
“Super excited about the win,” Brate said. “We didn’t play our best game, but I thought Washington really played us well. Offensively, they made a bunch of plays. Defensively, they presented a big challenge with the guys they have up front. We didn’t play our best game, but at this point of the year, a win is a win.”
Tampa Bay’s defense allowed Washington QB Taylor Heinicke, who started for an injured Alex Smith, to throw for 306 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Heinicke also rushed for 46 yards and added a touchdown on the ground.
After the game, Arians was asked if the team’s performance against Washington was good enough to win in the Divisional Round, he said the following:
“No, this performance defensively, it wouldn’t be,” Arians said. “Offensively, it would be. We’ll show up and see. I think some of our guys – I don’t think veterans did, but some of our younger guys – might have relaxed when Alex Smith wasn’t playing. I kind of kept preaching at them, ‘This kid can run, he can do a lot of things.’ He almost beat us with his legs. I’m never going to apologize for winning, and next week’s next week.”
If the Saints defeat the Bears on Sunday, the fifth-seeded Buccaneers will head to New Orleans to battle the second-seeded Saints, who beat Tampa Bay twice this season. However, Arians believes his team is much better now than they were when New Orleans blew them out in Tampa Bay 38-3 back in November.
“It doesn’t matter. We’re playing – that’s all that matters,” Arians said. “We’re a better football team than the last time we played the Saints – if we go there. It doesn’t matter to me.”
The Buccaneers live to fight another day. Now, for this season to be memorable, they must continue to win, and they will have that opportunity next weekend in the Divisional Round. However, they do need to play better.