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The Bucs held on despite a second-half comeback attempt from the Washington Football Team to claim a 31-23 win in Tampa Bay’s first playoff victory since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXVII.

A postseason berth that was 13 years in the making started quickly for Tampa Bay as the Bucs took a 15-7 lead on the back of a Ryan Succop field goal and two deep touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, despite failing on an extra point and two-point conversion attempt. Succop added one more field goal with less than two minutes remaining in the half to give the Bucs an 18-7 lead heading into the locker room after two quarters.

Despite trailing by double digits, Washington came out of the gate firing in the second half. On their first drive of the half quarterback Taylor Heinicke led Washington down the field and into the Bucs’ red zone before a pass through the hands of tight end Logan Thomas on third down left Washington settling for a field goal. After Tampa Bay responded with a quick three-and-out, Heinicke led another scoring drive that he finished himself on an eight-yard touchdown run, but a failed two-point conversion left Tampa Bay clinging to an 18-16 lead. The Bucs extended that lead to five on another field goal early in the fourth quarter and added a short touchdown from Fournette with just over nine minutes left, putting the score at 28-16, but Heinicke wasn’t finished.

Washington drove down the field yet again and Heinicke got his first – and only – touchdown pass of the game, connecting with Steven Sims Jr. in the back of the end zone and it was once again a five-point game with just over four minutes remaining. Tom Brady, never one to be outdone, took the Bucs back into Washington territory but a big sack on second down from Daron Payne forced the Bucs to once again settle for a field goal and an eight-point advantage. Washington had one more drive to answer back but who else but Lavonte David, the long-time Buc in his first career postseason appearance, got to Heinicke on third-and-10 and pushed them into a fourth-and-21 that would prove too much to overcome. The Bucs made the fourth down stop on a Hail Mary attempt and were able to run the clock out on Washington’s season.

With Tampa Bay heading home with the victory, they’ll now wait until Sunday to see who next week’s opponent will be. If the Saints beat the Bears then the Bucs will head to New Orleans for their NFC Divisional match-up. But should Chicago pull off the upset, the Bucs would stay in Tampa and host the Rams following Los Angeles’ 30-20 win over the Seahawks on Saturday.

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mdarby215
8 months ago

Please check yourself. If they play the Rams..it will be IN Tampa…not Los Angeles. The Bucs are the 5 seed.

Pete Wood
8 months ago

Great game, but I gotta wonder if somebody greased the field and the ball. Bucs kept dropping passes and slipping and sliding. Never thought of Godwin as butterfingers before.
Next week we’ll have White and Rojo back!
Bucs are Super Bowl bound.

76bucsfan46
8 months ago

We have got to stop playing so soft on defense in the secondary. Go Bucs

gcolerick
Reply to  76bucsfan46
8 months ago

Drives me crazy….with all the draft capital that we have spent in the last three years our defensive secondary should be our strength and not our weakness but if we do not bring home a superbowl trophy this year it will be the cornerbacks that are our undoing.

Pete Wood
Reply to  gcolerick
8 months ago

We won the game. Can we not take a little time to savor the victory?

BucRy
8 months ago

For the first time since I was just a kid in high school…our team has finally won a playoff game. It wasn’t pretty, but they did it!

PatrioticChief
8 months ago

TOM BRADY IS THE GOAT

geno711
Reply to  PatrioticChief
8 months ago

Would have had over 400 again if Godwin had not dropped so many.

Rick Watson
8 months ago

If the Bears win Bucs will be home vs. LA.

PatrioticChief
8 months ago

Bucs defense played like trash. Horrible gameplan from Bowles but the players weren’t much better. Pray Cappa plays and the Bucs OL doesn’t get hurt next week because this team has ZERO OL depth. Great gameplan by BL, I hate on him a ton but he was active reason this team won. 4net is the secret MVP. Never thought I’d say that. But yeah this was basically Brady and the OL putting the team on their backs and making up for the terrible drops. Brady played great even under pressure and the OL did great outside of Larsen being garbage.

PatrioticChief
Reply to  PatrioticChief
8 months ago

And it looks like a fracture. Huge blow considering they are about to play a Saints front that obliterated them last time.

BucHarbour
8 months ago

If it wasn’t for the drops and couple of poor passes this game would have been a blow out. Regardless, this offense is going to need to score virtually every time next week no matter which team they face. This defense needs to stop playing soft in the back half. If they would just tighten their coverage up by 3-5 yards, it would make it a lot more difficult for the opposing QB to just dump it off for 1st downs. Need to bring a little more of the delayed blitzing, as it seems to work the best when our… Read more »

chefboho
8 months ago

Gotta give Washington’s QB a ton of credit. That kid didn’t play scared and made some incredible throws. The Bucs have a ton to clean up. I hope Cappa is ok because he was missed when he was out. Brady played an amazing game and what can you say about Evans? Dude is tough through and through. I’ll even give some major props to Fournette. I like Vaughn, but I knew after that fumble he wasn’t seeing the field again. Good win and this offense can really put up the yards and points against anyone. My only concern is Bowles… Read more »

gcolerick
Reply to  chefboho
8 months ago

Spot on with your Chase Young comment chefboho. Young was screaming for a chance at the goat…..here’s hoping he has a tough time getting to sleep tonight thinking about his wasted opportunity!

BucHarbour
Reply to  chefboho
8 months ago

Yeah, Vaughn’s fumble basically made him a non-entity the rest of the game. But I will say, it wasn’t really on him. He had the ball pretty tight in. The WFT defender just made a great play punching at the ball at just the right moment (he was falling down with a dude pulling on his legs) to pop it out. I think a lot of backs would have coughed that up. If ROJO had been healthy, I think he would have tore WFT up big time, considering the holes we were opening.

cgmaster27
8 months ago

My goodness that was way more difficult than it needed to be. Dropped passes, more from godwin than hes had his entire career. Fumble by the rook hurt as well. Kudos go out to the oline . All we heard about all week was the defensive line for the WFT, but wirfs and the boys stone walled them. Extra kudos to mr smith, who i give a hard time to. He ate mr youngs lunch today. Big mike is always clutch and gutted out 100yards. Gronk was pivotal in blocking today something that will go under the radar. Brate had… Read more »

danielob
8 months ago

Damn, too much of a nail bighter against an inferior team, we need to stop playing zone, couldn’t believe how these guys were wide open against us. JPP’s knee seems to be limiting him, I was disapointed in the pass rush to say the least. Guess Chris Godwin forgot how to catch in the second half, just a hic-cup I hope. If we play this way against the Saints or Rams were toast. Also, good game by Donovan Smith, I was wrong about him, thank goodness. Thank God Devin White is coming back next week, ROJO also.

Buc76
8 months ago

Capps broken ankle. Done

MWD
MWD
8 months ago

Offense played well, especially the O-Line, a win is a win- Defensively is another story- I thought that was clearly a fumble before the half which would have put us inside the 10 and potentially up by 3 scores before the half. Missing Devin White did not help but boy our secondary and that cushion coverage. If our defense was better or as good on the field as they are on paper, this game is a blowout in our favor-
Have to play better defensively next round.

Last edited 8 months ago by MWD
RW
RW
8 months ago

The offense gained over 500 yards and scored 31 points despite all the drops, the fumble and RoJo not playing. If the defense can get their collective heads out of their butts this team can win the NFC.

EastEndBoy
8 months ago

We really have a bad habit of making mediocre and rookie QBs look like pro bowlers. Anyway, sweet play by LaVonte to seal the deal. So nice to have a QB that looked calm and collected the whole game. Outstanding game by the Oline. Excellent effort by the depth guys Fournette and Brate.

Spitfire
8 months ago

Dude, I will say, Washington showed tonight that they were more like their 5-1 record with Smith this year with a capable QB. We tried to make another backup WB look like a star but we put the pressure on him and made his job hard and he played through it. People are gonna complain and try to say it was too close but we just rolled down the field pretty darn well against one of the best Defenses in the post season! Vaughn was rollin pretty darn well, but 1 more in and his knee is on the ground… Read more »

Randy H.
Reply to  Spitfire
8 months ago

Cappa has a fracture. He won’t be playing next week.

Captain Sly
8 months ago

Think the thing that impressed me the most was our team looked like they belonged out there tonight. Sure we left some plays on the field but got to tip your cap to this young WFT for putting up a good fight.. I am not going to beat up Bowles for his soft zone coverages this time since he was forcing them to drive the length of the field while chewing up the clock. This was a great win. Go Bucs!

BigSombrero
8 months ago

Great game! The Bucs were able to win against Washington this week!! I admit I was wrong…I thought this would be a laugher and a blow out, but Tyler Heneike played one of the best games a 3rd/4th string QB has played in a while. Not joking. His passes were on target and had zip, his mobility was an unknown commodity the Bucs weren’t prepared for and had to react to, and he had solid toughness/leadership. That said, it’s likely the Bucs will face N.O. next week in a battle of the NFC South titans. They better get ready for… Read more »

chefboho
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Funny how even after all Tom Brady has done, the only QB you mention is a rookie who like almost every team this year, shreds bowels terrible zone scheme. The Bucs lose this game without Brady hands down.

Bucco-Bruce
8 months ago

This defense is ridiculously terrible at times and the Washington offense should t have scored as much as they did. Hope we find a better DC next season and Bowles finds a HC job somewhere!!

MikeJ813
8 months ago

Waited so long for the playoffs and to start it off with this win.. the younger me is smiling inside. Concerned about the secondary and lack of pressure from the D line going forward, will need to clean that up if we want to win

seat26
8 months ago

Gutsy win, but it should have been easier. So proud of my Bucs returning to the playoffs after all these yrs. Hoping Alex Cappa can play in the next round.

surferdudes
8 months ago

I’ll just say it. We would’ve lost this type of game in the past. The big difference was TB12.

Dman
8 months ago

Great win and glad TB’s on our side. This felt like a trap game all week with everyone talking past Washington. I think we missed the speed of RoJo and Devin. Look forward to having them back next week. Can’t say enough about Mike and Lavaonte. And great game by Fournette, Brate, D. Smith and Wirfs. Also have to love how Gronk dug in and helped in the treches. It’s late in the season to figure out the pass rush and soft zone on D, something’s driving that, but just don’t understand.

Dave
Reply to  Dman
8 months ago

Trap game? Depends on who you were listening too? If I had just popped in on this site, and had no idea what our stats or record is, or what the WFT’s stats and record was, I’d think we snuck in as the 3rd wild card at 9-7, and the WFT was the #1 seed. It was mind numbing to see how major people thought we were gonna lose this game. So I completely disagree. I think the WFT was getting way too much love in this game. Way more than they deserved

pinkstob
8 months ago

I know we all to win the Super Bowl, but I want appreciate and enjoy this playoff win. We haven’t won a playoff game (be it against a 7-9 team) since…, well since we won the Super Bowl! That said, I would say we need to play better, but to me we looked the same way we have all year. I don’t think we can play any better overall as a team. The outcome in terms of a win or loss depends on how good the team is we’re playing. I think the Bears are on the same level as… Read more »

chefboho
Reply to  pinkstob
8 months ago

They can definitely change, but the problem is that Bowels is too damn stubborn to play these DB’s at their strengths which is press coverage.

Dave
8 months ago

Brady did exactly what Brady does in the playoffs. Money. Zero shock there. Heard all week how Brady and the OLine had zero chance against the 85 Bears pass rush. How we won’t score over 21 points, how the WFT hasn’t allowed over 23 points since week 5. And on and on and on and on. Even with a million drops, Brady rolled up over 500 yards of offense, and 31 points(should have been 34) against this HOF DLine. Any questions? Lol Now the bad….this defense friggen BLOWS! They really allowed 23 points and almost 400 yards of offense to… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
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